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Laughter Lab

Notes from the Neuro Café on 26th May 2021.

Anna Hatchard from the Laughter Lab came to speak to us about laughter.

We began with a friendly question: how was your week? Answers ranged from busy with dental visits for sons, being bored, glad to see grandchildren, planting, avoiding the rain, walking, an eventful and busy week, walking 5-7 miles daily, to swimming in Hampstead Pools and in the sea in Cornwall.

After working for 30 years as a neuro physio in hospital and rehab settings, Anna gained an Masters’ degree in Applied Positive Psychology, which a

ddressed this question: ‘what makes people flourish?’ The idea is to take people who are functioning, and to work out how to move towards doing better, and how to flourish.

Anna’s dissertation was on the subject of laughter. Did you know there are 1700 laughter clubs in the world of which 37 are in the UK?

The lowdown about laughter

Anna shared some interesting information.

  • You are 30 times more likely to laugh if you are with someone rather than being on your own

  • Laughter evolved from grooming. Grooming connects people together, releases oxytocin and makes people cooperate.

  • Laughter is cross-cultural. Everyone understands laughter.

  • There is a shared contagion of laughter; we are hard-wired to want to join in.

  • Children laugh frequently and for no reason, perhaps 300 times a day, versus 17 for adults.

Laughter is related to memory and reinforces what we say in conversation.

Laughter has actual physical benefits for you. Laughter has beneficial effects on mood, connections, resilience, and also your:

  • Respiratory system

  • Stomach and trunk exercise

  • Immune system

  • Pain tolerance

Laughter Yoga

Anna described Laughter Yoga, which is global and cross-cultural. Sessions include laughing for no reason, deep breathing and laughter exercises, and pretend, contagious laughter.

We heard about the Laughter Yoga journey which takes you from sceptic to advocate. The journey begins with a changing mood, then progresses through stress release, mindfulness, developing coping strategies, social benefits to a change in your perspectives. Along the way you should enjoy the beneficial aspects of play and your overall health should improve.

If you join Laughter Yoga classes a typical journey may start with a feeling of strangeness, then feeling safe, surrendering, lessening stress, simplifying matters, feeling less stress, gaining in self-confidence… and in the end, becoming a convert!

Anna reminded us that laughter elevates mood, improves lung health, energises, forms connections, helps team building and acts as a stress inoculator.

We were shown some laughter techniques which everyone enjoyed. Anna set us some homework: show someone how you laughed today.

We would all like more laughter in our lives. Anna suggested ‘moving yourself aside’… and allowing yourself to laugh.

Anyone who would like to investigate further is welcome to join in some taster sessions. More information at

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