In a recently published article a number of senior citizens in Osaka are rapidly taking to Laughter Yoga as it encourages people to laugh while practicing yoga. According to Laughter Yoga Japan, an incorporated nonprofit organization, the exercise also helps refresh the mind and body, ease stress and improve the lymphatic and circulatory systems.
About 30 members of a Laughter Yoga group gather in Osaka Castle Park where laughter teacher Rikako Ueda makes the participants do different laughter exercises as well as breathing and stretching exercises. After a while, the group claps in unison chanting, “Eeyan, eeyan . . . “or “It’s good” in the local dialect. They also mimicked swimming strokes, such as freestyle and the dog paddle and the session continued for almost an hour.
According to scientists, people laugh less as they grow older. In a survey of 2,471 people conducted by Tetsuya Ohira, a professor at Fukushima Medical University, more than 60 percent of female respondents under 50 said they laughed almost every day, compared to just 43 percent for those aged 70 or older. For men, the figure stood at 36 percent for those 70 or older, significantly lower than the 58 percent recorded for those under 40.
“The less people laugh, the more likely they are to develop memory loss or other symptoms,” Ohira said. “Laughing is an excellent ability that humans have,” he added.
A laughter session with seniors is not just about laughter. It entails creating a connection with them, building a rapport and creating a sense of belonging. It gives them the opportunity to confide their emotions and express themselves freely.
Elderly people suffer from a variety of diseases due to their reduced immunity. Though not all diseases can be cured, laughter brings several positive changes. It is an instant stress buster, which helps to reduce the risk factors for cardiac diseases; it reduces blood pressure, lowers cholesterol levels and even improves mobility, communication and relations.
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Photo credits goes to THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN.