In celebration of World Laughter Day, laughter ambassador Cathy Nesbitt is leading a laughter yoga session at Newmarket's Riverwalk Commons May 1.
If laughter is the best medicine, you can get your dose during the free, family-friendly event.
Everyone is welcome to join and "the more the merrier," said Nesbitt. "Come and experience the magic of laughing for no reason at all."
It is not actually yoga and no experience or equipment is required. Instead, it is laughter exercises designed to make us feel good.
There are mental and physical benefits to laughter, according to Nesbitt. Laughter requires an increased intake of oxygen so breathing is affected during moments of stress.
Also, when we're laughing, we're present in the moment and not thinking about anything else, she added.
Studies have shown that laughter boosts immune, decreases stress, and lowers blood pressure. According to The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, laughing releases endorphins (the "feel-good" chemical) and reduces anxiety.
Anxiety is something many people have experienced over the course of the pandemic, along with increased mental health issues, and according to Nesbitt, once we learn why it's important to laugh, it can be incorporated into daily life.
"This is so important because we have a mental health tsunami," she said.
Laughter gets sidelined as we age, she said, and this is an opportunity to get that feeling back.
"It's just about being like children. Super fun, no jokes, no comedy, just laughter."
At first, it may seem strange to laugh for no reason, and your brain might be saying you look ridiculous, she said, but your body will be saying thank you.
The laughter yoga concept was created in 1995 by Dr. Madan Kataria in India. With laughter clubs in more than 50 countries, it has become a global movement with certified laughter leaders in every province.
Nesbitt, a Bradford native, said she was introduced to laughter yoga in 2012 and was "hooked." She became trained in 2015 and now instructs others.
Before the pandemic hit, Nesbitt held laughing sessions at long-term care homes and continues to hold sessions online through Cathy's Laughter Club.
"Laugh on purpose, it's too important to leave to chance."
The laughter yoga session runs from 2 to 3 p.m. at Riverwalk Commons, 200 Doug Duncan Dr.