Barrhaven-Ottawa South Week This reporter Daniel Nugent-Bowman jumps in jubilation after imagining cashing in his winning lottery ticket.
Everyone loves to laugh and I am no exception.
I enjoy a good comedy or sharing jokes with my closest
friends as much as the next person does.
But, like most people, especially those living busy
lifestyles, I don’t laugh enough.
Enter the Barrhaven Laughter Club.
The club hosted its first ever Laughter Yoga session on
April 8, and having gone through many trials and tribulations in the last few
months, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to let out a bunch of good chuckles
and clear my system.
The local club was started by Petra Friedrichson, a half-day
teacher at Barrhaven’s St. Emily Catholic School, and real estate agent Felice
The pair discovered Laughter Yoga last summer in downtown Ottawa and decided become
certified teachers and started their own chapter once commuting became too much
of a challenge.
In talking with Friedrichson, she explained that Laughter
Yoga – a phenomenon started by Dr. Madan Kataria, of Mumbai, India
in 1995 – is a unique concept where people can laugh for no reason as a way to
“I was so stressed out last year that I had to walk with a
cane,” Friedrichson said. “I knew I had to do something to alter my life.
“We need laughter in our professional lives because
otherwise we are going under.”
As soon has Friedrichson said this, I immediately thought of
my own life.
While acquaintances regularly tell me that I’m so care-free and
easy-going, as they get to know me better, they see the tendency I have to be a
In fact, when I walk into my house after a long day, more
often than not, the exhale of a huge sigh will cause my housemates to query,
“What’s wrong with Stressed D?”
So I tried to delve into Laughter Yoga with my mind opened
and my belly relaxed.
I must admit, I was a little nervous because I had no idea
what to expect.
Even though Friedrichson explained that the only yoga
characteristics involved in Laughter Yoga were the breathing aspects in between
exercises – to again relieve stress – I was leery of the activity having never
tried yoga before.
As a working journalist, I decided to show up early to the
Southpointe Community Centre, which only made me more anxious.
But as I entered the tiny room, with nary a mat in sight, my
fears quickly disappeared.
Soon after, a few participants starting showing up and the
session began. With some quick instruction by Friedrichson and Miranda, it was
apparent that this was going to be a sweat-free, easy workout.
That is, for the body at least.
The challenge was for the mind to lose grip with reality and
just laugh for the sake of laughing. I found this to be a challenge at times.
Forty minutes of the hour-long event consisted of 12 simulated
activities to mock real-life problems, and being more of a grounded-realist
type, there’s just no way I could ever see the humour in a massive credit card
bill, pouring pudding on myself, or burning my tongue over a bowl of soup.
But I tried my best to throw my inhibitions to the wind at
Laughter Yoga, even though I felt somewhat ridiculous performing the said
The session ended with some sitting breathing exercises and
mediation, before the group had a chance to reflect on the workout.
In the end, I knew I wasn’t as fatigued as some of the other
participants were, but I did feel a sense of relaxation.
I used the instructors’ “Fake it till you make it” advice to
block out negativity, get the laughs out, and feel a bit better once it was
time to leave.
If there was one thing that stuck with me during my Laughter
Yoga experience it was something Friedrichson said during the session.
“You don’t laugh because you’re happy,” she said, “you’re
happy because you laugh.”
Laughter Yoga has helped me realize that I don’t need a
specific joke or action to justify a need for comedic relief. Now it’s just up
to me to put that notion in practice.
But since I love to laugh, I have a feeling I’m going to be
a lot happier going forward.
Anyone interested in Laughter Yoga is welcome to drop in to
the Southpointe Community Centre every Thursday until June 24 from 7 to 8 p.m.
Sessions costs $8 or can be purchased at discounted rates (four for $28 or eight
for $48). Call 613-823-7002 for more details.