Laughter with Disabled Adults
THE MAGIC OF LAUGHTER YOGA WITH DISABLED ADULTS
Laughter is exceptionally good for physical and emotional health. It helps boost self-esteem, which is particularly great for disabled persons. The method of laughter yoga, which is now practiced in 80 countries around the world, enables people to experience acceptance and joy.
Connie Rocheleau, Supervisor of Kiwanis Adult Day Program is quoted as saying,
“In 2011 our participants were introduced to laughter yoga by Kathryn Kimmins. They look forward to having her come on a monthly basis. Kathryn, has touched the souls of our participants and have gained confidence by her visits. She has a way with our participants that get them involved and interacting in ways that they have never done before. We are blessed to have such a unique way of programming and would suggest having Kathryn as your Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher”.
Laughter yoga is a great addition to any program offered because it gets people doing physical exercise. Even if they are restricted to a wheelchair, they still get a cardiovascular workout by laughing.
Some of the individuals I work with can’t comprehend a joke but with laughter yoga they don’t need to. They just see me laughing and they laugh along or at least smile. It is so contagious, which makes it really effective here.
I have been facilitating Laughter Yoga sessions for several Hamilton Community Living locations since 2011.
An employee at Parkdale Community Living tells me regularly that I have a natural gift when laughing with special needs adults.
Having worked for the Hamilton Board of Education as an educational assistant for sixteen years taught me that patience, a loving heart and playful spirit contributed to my continued desire to be part of this growing population.
I would like to share a story of a young woman who attended my Laughter Yoga classes back in 2013. Her name is Lori. Her mode of transportation is wheelchair, she is non-verbal and her zest for life is laughing, hugs and going for bumpy car rides. At least that’s what I was told by the women who brought her every second and fourth Tuesday.
She’s laughing even before she arrives.
During the class her eyes are sparkling and twinkling, her cheeks get rosy and she has a permanent grin on her face.
One Tuesday night, we had four new people come to the class at the Music Palace. For some people laughing is a very hard thing to do, even when it comes to faking it. It doesn’t come easy for them.
One particular young man in his twenties, who came to the club for the first time, hadn’t laughed since he was a child. His mother thought laughter yoga might just be the thing for him. We started with our warm up breathing exercises and then got serious about the laughing part of it. This is where it gets good.
Lori started wheeling herself around to the other participants, while reaching out to them. The young man amazed me by reaching back and laughing along with her. At one point while I was explaining an exercise, Lori started to demonstrate how it was done. I was so thrilled by this, I started cheering her on and everyone followed suit. The young man laughed and tapped into his child-like spirit for the entire hour. It was an amazing transformation. His mother mentioned that she hadn’t seen him laugh so hard and for so long, since he was little. Laughter Yoga is a transformative experience
As for Lori, she keeps spreading sunshine wherever she goes. She is truly an inspiration!
“Some of the individuals I work with can’t comprehend a joke but with laughter yoga they don’t need to. They just see me laughing and they laugh along or at least smile. It is so contagious, which makes it really effective here”.
Laughter has so many wonderful benefits, but the part I like best is watching strangers interact with child-like innocence and end up connecting in a way that is so exciting.
Laughter Yoga is a unique concept that sets us free of obstacles and life’s challenges and allows us to be who we are meant to be.
The principles of laughter yoga can dissipate conflict just by laughing and walking. By the time you get where you are going you won’t remember why you are mad, it’s an instant mood changer.”
Participants are the clients and staff of the
Kiwanis Boys and Girls Club of Hamilton