Oklahoma Higher Education Campus E-Clips sponsored by the Communicators Council

November 2011

UCO Offers Opportunity for Community Members to Laugh Their Way to Better Health

For University of Central Oklahoma staff member Kay Jones, laughter is proving to be the best medicine.

Jones is one of many participants who practiced laughter yoga at sessions held at noon Mondays during the month of October by Broncho Lake on Central’s campus.

“It’s kind of like sunshine inside as well as outside,” said Jones, an administrative assistant at Central.

“Many students come in and out of my office, and I laugh all day with them. After laughter yoga, I laugh even deeper.”

Led by Mark Brennaman, adjunct instructor of Success Central at UCO and certified laughter yoga leader, the 30-minute sessions were free and open to the public.

Brennaman said he heard about laughter yoga six months ago, and immediately began pursuing certification.

He noted scientific evidence of the positive impact laughing has on a person’s health.

“Laughter releases endorphins in the mind and infuses people with oxygen,” said Brennaman.

Created in 1995 by Madan Kataria, M.D., in Mumbai, India, laughter yoga’s benefits are numerous according to the American School of Laughter Yoga’s website, including promoting cardiovascular health, boosting the lymphatic and immune systems and reducing wrinkles.

“We go through life only using the top of our lungs,” said Brennaman.

“We breathe very rapidly and very shallowly. In laughter yoga, we borrow the deep breathing pattern of traditional yoga and get the oxygen deep in our lungs.”

Laughter Yoga class participants were encouraged to bring a donation to the United Way. At the end of the session, members of the “laughter circle” dropped their coins and bills into a bucket. The funds raised were donated to the United Way of Central Oklahoma as part of Central’s annual campaign supporting the nonprofit organization.

Brennaman said some are put off by perceptions of traditional yoga as a practice requiring special supplies, a certain fitness level and proper attire. Laughter yoga, however, only requires that those in attendance be ready to share in a giggle, which often escalates to an all-out belly laugh.

“I come straight from the office,” said Jones.

“Just seeing everyone else laugh makes you crack up. I feel lighter already.”

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