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Guelph yoga class encourages participants to let go and laugh


You’ll find a different kind of exercise program in Guelph.

Shona Sneddon has been running laughter yoga classes about once a month.

“Everybody can laugh, you know, and we can all ideally laugh at ourselves. We're so caught up in what people think about us. So Laughter Yoga just gets us out of the box,” sheexplained.

The Certified Leader of Laughter Yogaalso works with people who have suffered trauma and uses the practice to show them something different.

“I was finding that ways to get them to open up was through doing different things that maybe are not so traditional,” Sneddon said.

Shona Sneddon, certified Laughter Yoga leader, in Guelph (Colton Wiens/CTV Kitchener)

The practice is focused on encouraging participants to express themselves from the heart not from the head, and to not judge themselves or others. Participants take turns going through different movements and alternating breathing patterns. They’re encouraged to try and let their inner child out during the session.

“One of the principles is the childlike play. We look at children, they're laughing and laughing and we're wondering, what are they up to? They're just laughing. They're not up to anything. And that's what we need to take on,” Cathy Nesbitt, another Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher said.

Some stretching components are also mixed in.

“I might get some people that are very experienced in yoga and so I'll have alternatives that they can do while we're doing something for other people that don't have any experience,” Sneddon said.

Laughter Yoga in Guelph, Ont. (Colton Wiens/CTV Kitchener)

Some participants are shy at first and others have even walked out before. However, the instructors believe the environment helps people start to feel comfortable and come out of their shell.

“Sometimes it can take longer, but when there's other people around setting that environment, [its] really sort of like the catalyst for them opening up,” Sneddon explained.

"You choose to laugh,” said teacher Carlos Gongora. “We don't force you to laugh. At the end of the session, you can have the real laughter coming out for you.”

Laughter has been shown to increase endorphins, improve relaxation, lower blood pressure, reduce stress and increase muscle function.

The instructors have previously worked with office workers, seniors and students.

“We're not laughing because something's funny. We're laughing because it's really stressful and if we're not laughing, we're crying in the corner,” Nesbitt added.

The idea of laughter therapy has been around since the 1970s, while Laughter Yoga officially started in 1995. Clubs can now be found all over the world.

“This gives us an opportunity to use our voice. And it's nonspecific through the process of laughter,” Duncan Cook, a Certified Laughter Yoga Master Trainer said. Top Stories

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