Breathing, as we all know, is the process by which air passes into and out of our lungs to allow the blood to take up oxygen and dispose of cardio dioxide.
In effect, breathing is the very essence of our life. We need the oxygen from our breath to exist and as we are all no doubt aware can get into extremely uncomfortable difficulties after a short while without it.
Yet, how much do we all really know about what that breath does for us once we take it? Since I became an Holistic (or Complementary) Therapist and started to appreciate just how much we can all help ourselves to better health, I’ve become more and more bewildered why we’re not taught about various breathing techniques from a young age and throughout our lives.
Just by thinking more about our breathing we can add a terrific ‘tool’ to our self-help toolbox. Of course I am not promoting it as a cure-all but whether a client comes to me for say Reflexology, Laughter Yoga or something else, I always encourage them to concentrate more on their breathing techniques with very good results.
From the moment we are born and take that first breath to the moment we depart this earth on our last, we must breathe ‘trillions’ of times and yet some of us place very little importance on this process, mostly because we are simply not encouraged to do so.
If we were all taught from a young age that in order to keep our lungs healthy and to better enable our bodies to perform at peak levels we need to take deeper breaths accompanied by deep exhalations, to flush the stale air from our lungs and provide more room for fresh oxygen with the next breath; we’d be more inclined to think about it and do it wouldn’t we?
From a medical point of view, the most important component of our breath is oxygen.
Dr Otto Warburg (1883-1970) a Nobel Prize-winner said about the importance of oxygen:
‘Deep breathing techniques increase oxygen to the cells and are the most important factors in living a disease-free and energetic life.’
So many other medical scholars have written about the importance of breathing over many years but apart from those suffering from specific illnesses who have to be encouraged to think about their breathing, generally it’s only those people who seek out further knowledge themselves who learn about it.
This may be by studying and doing yoga or maybe looking into complementary therapies or suchlike that some enlightened people come across the fact of just how important our breath is.
As a therapist, I quickly established that by encouraging my clients to take deep breaths and to focus on those breaths, it would help to relax them and this technique is a ‘stock in trade’ one for many professionals in aiding relaxation in clients.
When I later trained as a Laughter Yoga Leader and started on my journey of learning new breathing techniques, alongside the fun and laughter exercises, which together form part of the whole; I learnt skills which have helped me, my family and friends not only to relax more through breathing but also to better deal with pain and other conditions.
I am also very privileged to be able to pass these skills onto others who come to my ‘Laughtercise’ or Laughter Club sessions’. Dr Kataria, the medical doctor who devised Laughter Yoga in 1995, did so after discovering just how much scientific evidence he unearthed about the benefits to the body and mind of laughter whilst writing a ‘Medical Paper’ on ‘Laughter is the Best Medicine’ .
Dr Kataria and his wife were already yoga devotees and from his knowledge of this and the amazing scientifically proven benefits of laughter, he vowed to start a movement - open to all people of all ages and ability - from which everyone could experience the benefits for their body, their minds and their spirits.
This healthy ‘club’ would offer movement, stretching, laughter exercises (to raise the endorphins, promote deep exhalations etc) deep breathing, meditation and very importantly sociability.
Dr Kataria advises his trainees to promote our ‘Laughter Clubs’ and the like as ‘Laughter Yoga’ but this, in effect, may prevent some people from joining in and benefiting from it as the terminology confuses them.
Laughter Yoga is described as such as it essentially uses Pranayama breathing techniques (the Yogic element) alongside fun exercises that incorporate laughter – sometimes false but never forced.
This laughter in itself raises our endorphin (feel-good) levels which in turn destresses us, aids our immune system, relaxes us and so much more.
Laughter Yoga or ‘Laughtercise’ as I’ve been calling it lately to try to explain it more - whatever we call it - is a very sociable and positive way to exercise whilst benefiting our body, our mind and our spirit.
People with various health problems come to Laughter Club, and sometimes they may need to sit out for a while or perhaps approach some exercises in a different way to those who are fully healthy; so it is a very inclusive form of exercise, open to all.
Although, of course, anyone with particularly chronic health issues woulde be advised ring me to discuss these and/or speak to their GP.
Currently our Club ‘Bourne to Laugh’ meets two Saturdays a month (the 1st and 3rd ones) so we are meeting again this coming Saturday 18/1/14 at 2pm, until about 3.30 at 86 Beech Avenue, Bourne, PE10 9RQ.
The cost is £5 per person, though an adult & child under 16 may attend for £5 inclusively, and apart from the fun ‘laughtercise’ session this includes tea/coffee and ‘bickies’ with water being available throughout each session.
I also run Laughter Club sessions on a Monday evening for Adults with Additional Needs and our next sessions will be on tomorrow and on Saturday, February 15 at the same address from 7.15pm (arrive from 7 pm) until 8.15.
If you think a family member or someone you know could benefit from coming to these sessions please contact me- Linda Nightingale – on 01778 422469 for further discussions.
I will also be offering sessions concentrating on breathing techniques and meditation in the near future and if you are interested in these or any aspect of Laughter Yoga please feel free to contact me.
I do also offer one-to-one sessions for those unable to attend group sessions for whatever reason & also do home visits to some holistic clients.