Laugh Time With Flora is a regular series of 30-minute Laughter Yoga classes.
Each one consists of simple exercises designed to get participants breathing and laughing deeply, connecting with themselves and others, relaxing, and having fun in a playful, low stakes setting.
Open to all levels. Classes can be done seated or standing. No prior experience required – just a willingness to give it a go and follow Flora’s lead. Young people 10-15 years old welcome with the accompaniment of an adult.
Each course is 10 classes long. Term starts on 12 January and ends on 28 March, with no classes from Monday 15 February – Sunday 21 February (half term week).
If you book a full term, classes are just £5 each / £4 concession.
First week, first timer taster class (12-17 Jan): Free
Single class: £7 / £5 concessions
Block of 5 (half a term): £30 / £23 concessions
Block of 10 (full term): £50 / £40 concessions
Flora is a dancer, performer and Laughter Yoga leader who lives in London.
Diagnosed with Bipolar II disorder in 2016, Flora has quietly been on a quest to identify activities that she can rely on to buoy her. She began to develop a laughter practice when her mood was low during the spring lockdown. Feeling lighter for it, and eager to shore up a personal practice and share the joy, she decided to become a Laughter Yoga leader.
Laugh Time With Flora classes have been running for eight months now and are a boon in the lives of regulars – not least Flora!
You can listen to excerpts of a Laugh Time class interwoven with pieces by Nora, the dance project that Flora co-directs, in this Changing Lives podcast (16 mins) on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Castbox.
What are the benefits of Laughter Yoga?
Laughing is fantastic for our emotional and physical health.
Laughter Yoga exercises are based on the scientific fact that the body does not distinguish between real and fake laughter so even if you don’t feel like laughing to begin with, you can still reap many physiological and psychological benefits from participating. Simulated laughter often topples into spontaneous laughter.
Extended laughter (what we practice in Laugh Time) is a form of aerobic exercise, kind of like internal jogging. It engages muscles all over the body – especially the diaphragm, abdominals, and intercostal and face muscles – and, just like a cardiovascular workout, it releases ‘feel good’ endorphins that help us relax.
It also increases the net oxygen intake in our body and brain, expels stale air from our lungs and improves our circulation, boosting our alertness, energy and motivation levels. Using our diaphragm muscles also activates the vagus nerve (part of the parasympathetic ‘rest and digest’ branch of the central nervous system), reducing stress levels and thus strengthening our immune systems.
The activity of smiling, laughing and connecting with ourselves and others, even online, is also a great social bonding exercise that can lift our mood for the rest of the day.
In these sessions we will practice deep, hearty, extended laughter and are looking to develop our capacity to laugh unconditionally, or ‘for no reason’. This may sound hard but actually, like most things, it gets easier with practice and in Laugh Time it’s a team effort – you are not alone!
“When you laugh, you change, and when you change the whole world changes around you.” – Dr Madan Kataria, medical doctor and Co-founder of Laughter Yoga
Who can participate?
People of all ages can participate but please note that these laughter sessions may not be suitable for everyone. Laughter exercises are contra-indicated for people who have uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart disease, epilepsy, any kind of hernia, severe backache, major psychiatric disorders, are in their first trimester or recently underwent major surgery. This list is for guidance only and is not exhaustive. If you have doubts about participating due to a health condition, consult a medical professional for guidance first. In the sessions themselves, use your common sense: no strain, no new pain. Stop if anything feels uncomfortable. If you need a rest, rest. The class can be done sitting down or standing.
If you enjoyed Laugh Time, you might want to consider sharing it with other people you suspect might too. I recommend inviting friends or family members to join the same session as you – it can be a fun alternative way of seeing one another in lockdown and add to the sense of the occasion in your week. The more the merrier!
Bespoke Laugh Time sessions
Get in touch if you would like to discuss the possibility of me running a bespoke Laugh Time session for an existing group – either on a regular basis or for a special occasion. For groups like book clubs, running clubs and choirs that already do meaningful activities together, a Laugh Time session could be a refreshing and take the group to another level. Laugh Time could also provide a work team with some much needed bonding time and boost to motivation levels, enabling colleagues to bridge the social distancing strain that collaborative relationships are under. I’m also open to youth groups, Sten dos, birthday parties and get togethers.
If you have any questions, suggestions or requests, email me: floramww [@] gmail.com.