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Humourous yoga puts Wellingtonians in stitches

Nov 23rd, 2012 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News

CHILDLIKE PLAY: Christina Longley and student Dave Woods during a laughter yoga lession

GETTING the giggles for no reason it could improve your health, says a Wellington laughter yoga teacher. 

Christina Longley helps a small but dedicated group of students feel happier by combining yogic breathing with childlike play.

She leads a laughter yoga club in Breaker Bay and students come from as far afield as the Hutt and Kapiti.

She says laughter yoga, which began in Mumbai in the early 1990s, helps students tap into the childlike part of them that is able to laugh without cause.

“Children laugh up to 300 times a day,” says Ms Longley, who is also a trained child yoga instructor.

“Adults have forgotten how to laugh for no reason. It has to be at a joke or a comedy. There has to be a reason behind every emotion we have.”

Ms Longley discovered Laughter Yoga on the internet, while searching for ways she could improve her emotional health.

She trained as a Laughter Yoga leader with Christchurch instructor Hannah Airey, and started up the Breaker Bay group in August this year.

She says she starts her students off in their workout by encouraging them to fake laughter, which begins to release endorphins and eventually gives way to genuine chortles.

“Laughter is also contagious. It’s a challenge not to catch the laughter bug when you’re in a room full of people.”

Ms Longley, who has a day job as a sales consultant, has seen her students improve both their physical and mental health from splitting their sides.

“Laughing builds strong core muscles, so your stomach gets a good workout, plus laughter clears out the lungs. I’ve definitely seen changes in some of [the students’] physiques.

“If you live with stress and depression, it can really lift your mood.”

“My students now have the ability to laugh more easily. They get addicted to laughing. It just becomes habitual.”

Ms Longley says the playful aspects of her class help students express themselves more freely.

“In our classes, there are no boundaries, no barriers, no judgements or restriction,” she says.

“You’re just free to play and laugh in a safe environment.”

Ms Longley’s classes run on Wednesday evenings from 6.30 to 7.30 at the Breaker Bay Hall, and entry is a koha of $2.

Other Laughter Yoga groups are run in Newtown, Johnsonville and Kapiti, and Ms Longley plans to start up a group in Brooklyn next year.

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is a Whitireia journalism student, most passionate about the arts and social justice issues. Sometimes, she even combines the two.
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