Rede Convergir – Centre
The school of laughter in Vila Nova de Poiares publicises and promotes the practice of laughter yoga. This contributes to improved physical and mental health with the aim of finding spiritual harmony in a fun way.
Joanne Helms, aged 45, has been certified in laughter yoga for about 12 years. This instructor does her artistic work under the name of ‘Ana Banana’, and she devotes herself to the teaching of laughter yoga as “a global mission dedicated to social peace,” she told ECO123.
After working in different circus companies in Portugal, she joined the Red Nose Association – Clowns for Hospitalised Children. However, she later became interested in laughter yoga and was the first to practise it in Portugal.
“It is very difficult to create a humorous show as a clown, as our shows are based on humiliation. However, when I tried out this technique, I made a group of people laugh almost spontaneously and realised that that was what I wanted to do,” Joanne Helms says.
At the beginning, the participants only need to make the sound of laughter, and natural laughter then starts to emerge. Everyone moves around the room repeating the different types of laugh exemplified by the leader and the laughter gets deeper and deeper until the point where the group reaches a state of catharsis through genuine laughter.
According to Joanne Helms, “it is a very easy technique and anyone can do it, and it has beneficial results, with an infinite impact on one’s person.”
The benefits of the technique are scientifically proven and reach different sides of a human being. They can occur on both an emotional and a physical level, can improve professional and school routines and can even be seen in one’s health, ensuring that practitioners are better able to cope with difficulties they face daily.
The objective of laughter yoga, according to Joanne Helms “is to get the whole body in party mood to achieve genuine laughter. That is to say, to make the body reach a state of catharsis in order to clear out all its negative energies.”
Laughter yoga is expanding. This type of yoga is used increasingly to help people in problematic settings, such as prisons, homes and hospitals, and in more normal places such as companies, schools and others.
According to Joanne Helms, laughter yoga is “the ecology of the soul. It is a way of sparing the environment from negative energies.”
Laughter yoga is essential for Joanne Helms, who devotes herself to “bringing back laughter – a natural human function which is being lost as a result of the stress to which people are constantly exposed.”