Laughter is the best medicine for Cromer actress-turned-therapist
PUBLISHED: 16:00 10 July 2018 | UPDATED: 20:05 10 July 2018
According to Cromer actress and hypnotherapist Beverley Bishop, sharing a smile with a stranger is the perfect way to brighten your day, and with benefits ranging from exercising the heart and lungs, to building relationships, laughter really is the best medicine.
Ms Bishop, who retrained as a therapist after working in theatre management and touring with her own comedy show, has launched a series of laughter yoga sessions at Trimingham village hall.
“I always thought I wanted to be a serious actress, but working in comedy made me realise how fantastic it is to make people laugh,” she explained. “There is nothing like getting a group of people laughing, it’s just the biggest buzz.”
After training in hypnotherapy, creative therapy and Neuro Linguistic Programming, Ms Bishop, 49, became interested in the therapeutic value of laughter and, after further training, began running laughter yoga sessions for staff at organisations including mental health charity Mind.
“Laughter yoga can seem a bit bonkers and, at first, I really wasn’t sure how people would respond,” she explained. “But it surprised me how quickly they engage with it – any embarrassment is soon forgotten and they always leave feeling much better.”
Sessions start with stretching and clapping routines, before going on to laughter exercises.
“You might introduce yourself with a laugh or have a conversation just using laughs, then with finish with laughter meditation,” Ms Bishop explained.
And, she added, while laughter is initially forced during sessions, it soon goes on to become natural.
“It’s just contagious, it provides immediate stress relief, it opens the lungs, strengthens the stomach muscles, releases endorphins and can have huge benefits for a whole range of health problems.”
Ms Bishop, who juggles acting and performing with running her own therapy practice at Cromer, is now hoping to run lunch hour laughter yoga sessions for companies.
“We are getting so bogged down with life, that we often forget to be playful, so I want to encourage that to come back,” she said.
Laughter yoga sessions run at Trimingham Village Hall at 9am on the first Saturday of the month. For more information, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07951 420981.
“A smile costs nothing”: the physical and mental health benefits of laughter yoga
Developed in India in the 1990s by physician Madan Kataria, laughter yoga is based on the belief that the body cannot differentiate between real and forced laughter, with scientific evidence showing that laughter can reduce blood pressure, decrease stress, improve mood and raise energy levels.
From its beginnings in a park in Mumbai with just a handful of people, there are now more than 10,000 laughter yoga clubs in 73 countries.
Benefits include a reduction in stress hormones and increased oxygen to the heart and brain, with a 10 minute laughter session said to be equivalent to 45 minutes of aerobic exercise.
At an impromptu session run by Ms Bishop for busy Sheringham café owner Royston Young, she ran through vocal and clapping exercise and soon had Mr Young in stitches.
“Laughter is like therapy, it costs nothing to smile and it’s really cheered me up,” he said.
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