Francine Shore, CLYT, New York: Sometime back in December, 2012, I conducted a Laughter Yoga session at Hurricane Sandy Stress relief at a Community College on Long Island, New York that was housing the residents, who had lost their homes due to the hurricane.
At the camp we had a small group of about 6 female residents and 1 child, who participated and Laughter Yoga once again proved to be a very effective tool for treating acute PTS reactions. It offered the residents a chance to respond to loss in a more positive and playful way by letting go of a situation they had no control over.
The positive response and benefits were measured immediately by written evaluations and a verbal Q & A after the workshop. The residents were able to learn effective coping skills, through Laughter Yoga techniques and play that included: Diaphragmatic Laughter Yoga exercises, deep breathing, stretching, movement and a seated Laughter Meditation. This offered them a unique and fun way in coming to terms with their stress relief due to the PTSS.
In spite of this traumatic situation of loss, Laughter Yoga allowed people to give themselves permission to laugh in the face of adversity and trauma. These residents all described feeling a restored sense of hope, energy, and less physical pain. And, in the gibberish exercise they found a healthy and playful outlet to express their anger. While integrating these Laughter Yoga techniques, the PTS residents learned to have the capacity for joy and playfulness in the context of a tragedy. Conversely, a few also accessed their tears, which were suppressed-and this helped them to dissipate the trauma.
The Red Cross Laughter Yoga workshop consisted of a male and female staff of about 30 people. These workers had been housed in less than optimal conditions for over 1month, helping thousands of residents affected by Hurricane Sandy providing them with emotional support, meals, medicalneeds, housing, and tending to the plethora of disaster relief issues.
This level of stress, left most of the staff thoroughly exhausted, depressed, anxious, angry and physically and emotionally stressed out, themselves. Nobody, was there to tend to their needs and offer them the stress relief, they so desperately needed. At that point, they were up for almost any kind of stress relief.
They, eased comfortably while “going with the flow” of Laughter Yoga. The transformation on their faces, and physicality was remarkable. The positive results were also measured by written evaluations, which included an assessment scale and a Q & A session. When going around the room, during the Q & A, the words used to describe their transformation were as follows:
“what back pain?”, “I feel so much lighter-like a new person”, “I feel morepresent and calmer, “no more pain in my shoulders and knees” “, lessstressed,” “ lessfatigued” “,not as angry””, ready to play,”” more alert,” tired ,but calm and relaxed”, less depressed-more hopeful”, “like a weight had been lifted”. And many more!
It as a joy to witness how stress, pain, depression and negative emotions are lifted and transcended through Laughter Yoga!