Laughter Yoga has become a household concept in Lebanon as more people are trying out this new, and might we add very enjoyable, form of stress-relief. Nothing beats laughing your cares away and, as highlighted in this interview with Laughter Yoga’s leading practitioner Sabine Jizi, it also has many health benefits we may not be aware of.
But how does Laughter Yoga benefit One Wig Stand’s key demographic: women diagnosed with or undergoing breast cancer treatment? Find out more in this special one-on-one interview with Sabine as she shares her insight with us:
1. Laughter Yoga is a new practice here in Lebanon, growing quickly in popularity. What are the main benefits of this form of yoga?
Laughter Yoga is not the typical kind of yoga we usually hear about. It is a unique concept whereby anyone can laugh for no reason. It is based on laughter and breathing exercises practiced in a group that allows people to laugh without relying on humor, jokes or comedy.
Of course, this kind of yoga has many health benefits:
- Laughter releases endorphins, giving us the “feel good” factor.
- Acts as aerobic exercise and is like “internal jogging”; 10 minutes of hearty laughter is equivalent to a 30-minute treadmill workout
- Unleashes inhibitions and breaks down barriers. It helps us deal with challenging situations in a more positive way.
- Great team-building tool, which encourages better communication.
- Helps boost our immune system which helps us resist disease.
- Tones muscles, improves respiration and circulation.
- Encourages positive thinking and creativity.
- Blood and all major organs are fully oxygenated, leaving us bursting with energy.
- Promotes cardiovascular health.
- Depression is lifted. Even chronic depression is often cured.
- People who laugh don’t worry as much as people who don’t laugh and, as such, enjoy life more.
- And lastly, laughter makes us feel good because it defuses three of the most painful emotions (fear, anger and boredom) by releasing them.
2. Yoga is recommended as a recovery therapy for women undergoing breast cancer treatment. Have you ever tried the Laughter Yoga practice with breast cancer patients? Please tell us a bit about that experience.
I haven’t held a session for women undergoing breast cancer treatment yet, but I did have the chance to meet a few incredible, powerful women during my certification training in Germany. I was astonished by what laughter had done for them, helping them undergo the treatment in so many different ways.
3. How does Laughter Yoga in particular benefit these women and how did they react to it?
Laughter Yoga is not a replacement for medical treatment, however, it does accelerate the treatment process and helps ease the pain. Laughter was like a free pill for the women I met in Germany; it helped them accept and embrace their situation, and love themselves – no matter how difficult their treatment was.
Laughter Yoga lifted their depression, helped them release their painful emotions and replace them with the “feel good” hormones (Endorphins). It also encouraged them to think positively and helped them deal with their challenging situation in a much more constructive way. It was also a great way for those women to interact together and help each other beat the disease.
It was also a great team-building exercise for them. They felt like they were part of the same team, supporting each other during this period. It certainly helped boost their immune system which accelerated the healing process. Laughter is the best medicine!
4. In your opinion, at what point during or after breast cancer treatment is it advisable to practice Laughter Yoga (or any other form of yoga)?
In my opinion, because laughter offers everybody great health benefits, women diagnosed with breast cancer should definitely practice laughter yoga during their treatment. It helps them in so many ways – even if they were not in the mood to laugh, feel positive or be happy.
The concept of Laughter Yoga is in fact based on a scientific study that says that the human body cannot differentiate between a real laugh or a fake laugh; so either way, one is likely to get the same positive health benefits.
Laughter Yoga becomes a way of thinking and living, and these women can apply it within their lives, after breast cancer, and spread it along within their own surroundings. Laughter is highly contagious!
5. Are there any questions a cancer patient should consult their doctor about before starting Laughter Yoga or can anyone do it regardless of medical conditions?
Usually, anybody can practice Laughter Yoga, but I always encourage people who have a certain medical condition to refer to their doctors first just to be on the safe side – but doctors have never restricted it.
6. Do you plan on doing more sessions for breast cancer patients here in Lebanon in the future?
I’m actually very much looking forward to holding sessions and working with women with breast cancer. I feel like I have so much to offer and teach them. Laughter Yoga will, without a doubt, help them emotionally, mentally and physically. It’s definitely a project I have been thinking about for a while now, hoping to do it in the near future.
We’d like to thank Sabine for taking the time to do this interview with us and sharing her invaluable input on this interesting, new form of yoga. We recommend anyone reading this to give Laughter Yoga a try and giggle their way to a healthier recovery and lifestyle.