Hello and welcome to my Laugh Time With Flora page.
Laugh Time with Flora is as a twice weekly interactive online Laughter Yoga class. Each session consists of simple exercises designed to get participants breathing and laughing deeply, connecting with themselves and others, and relaxing. No prior experience or wit required, just a willingness to give it a go, follow my lead, and be playful. Open to adults and children.
Laugh Time classes will be twice weekly from 11 August onwards
To join classes simply fill in this short registration & liability release form (only necessary once) and you will then be sent the Zoom meeting room link and participation and contribution information.
How did these Laugh Time sessions begin?
I started a laughter practice by myself when I was bored and low mood during lockdown back in April. Exploring what I’d learned through clown classes (London Clown School) and Voic(e)motion workshops (Guy Dartnell) and feeling lighter for it, I decided to try opening up a participatory session to others. I went on to do an online Laughter Leader training in Laughter Yoga (United Mind) and chose to keep up a practice by teaching laughter and relaxation classes that others could join in on. The five-classes weekly schedule that I settled into attracted regulars as well as drop in participation over the last three months.
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 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 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, tell others about it! You might want to consider sharing it with other people you suspect might as well. 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 and add to the sense of the occasion in your week. The more the merrier.
You can listen to excerpts of my laughter class interwoven with pieces by ‘Nora’, the dance project that I co-direct, in Sarah Vermont’s Changing Lives podcast (16 mins): on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Castbox.
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 of people – either on a regular basis or for a special occasion.
Some ideas: a fortnightly or monthly session for a book club, running club or choir to enhance the quality of the time that you spend thinking, training or practising together – boosting motivation levels, developing greater stamina, and having a laugh; a periodic work team bonding workshop to counteract the strain that social distancing is putting on collaborative relationships through play and mutual support and appreciation; or indeed a one off event a Sten do or birthday party. I’m open to discussion. If you have any questions, suggestions or requests feel free to email me on floramww [@] gmail.com.