Adam Wicklum’s laughter yoga program providing many benefits to residents
Friday, July 25, 2014 — Deron Hamel
Laughter, it has been said, is the best medicine, and if that’s the case Adam Wicklum has the cure for what ails you.
For the past two months, the life enrichment aide (LEA) at Riverview Manor has been leading a biweekly laughter yoga program at the Peterborough long-term care home. Residents look forward to the activity and participation has brightened spirits and put smiles on faces, Wicklum says.
The idea behind laughter yoga is simple: voluntary laughter has the same benefits as regular laughter in the sense that both provide a myriad of benefits. Often, the process of forcing laughter turns into regular, spontaneous laughter.
Wicklum, who has completed training in laughter yoga, says the program provides social, mental, physical, emotional and even spiritual benefits.
“Research has found that as we get older we laugh less, but laughter yoga allows you to laugh for no reason,” Wicklum says, noting the reasons why laughter is important.
“Laughter yoga promotes a positive mental state, increases oxygen supply, builds physical stamina, boosts immune systems, (creates) social connectedness , improves circulation reduces pain, helps people relax and is fun.”
There are several steps to laughter yoga. These include clapping, chanting, deep-breathing exercises and “happy-face” breathing (called so because participants draw a happy face in the air). After these steps, Wicklum leads residents in the process of getting people to laugh.
Different types of laughter are also encouraged — everything from a hearty, ho, ho, ho, to mimicking the chuckle of people’s favourite fictional villain, such as a witch, Count Dracula or the Joker from Batman.
Sometimes, Wicklum leads residents in a “laughter choir” where they are instructed to laugh at different pitches and lengths to produce a long, conducive chuckle — such as “ho, ha, hee.”
Wicklum says resident response to the program has been encouraging.
“Last week I had a resident who didn’t want to go, but then changed her mind and when it was done, she said she really liked it and felt uplifted, so that was great to hear,” he says.
When Wicklum leads the program every other Wednesday he tries to mix up the atmosphere. Sometimes the program is held in the activity room, but if the weather is nice he and the approximately 20 resident participants will go outside.
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