By Christy Laverty

It’s 8:20 am on a Tuesday. AHHHHHHH! I slept in again. The kids are still sleeping and we have to be at school in 25 minutes. The race is on; wake the kids up, get them dressed while they protest, get breakfast, pack the backpack, find shoes, put on shoes, rush to the car, eat breakfast in the car, drive to school, look for a parking spot, run into the school. Ah, just made it as O Canada is being sung. Not bad for 25 minutes! I am already stressed out and it’s not even 9:00 o’clock in the morning. Does this sound familiar?

I am always on the hunt for ways to make life a little easier and less stressful. There are a lot of ways to help manage stress, one of the most interesting and fun ways is through laughter. It seems simple, almost too simple, but the health benefits of laughter are undeniable.

Research has shown benefits range from strengthening the immune system to reducing food cravings, even to increasing a person’s threshold for pain. More importantly it can also have stress relieving benefits. Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones. On the flip side, it increases the level of health enhancing hormones like endorphins and neurotransmitters. Laughter also provides a physical and emotional release. And of course, a good hearty belly laugh gives you an internal workout; it exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs and even works out the shoulders, leaving muscles more relaxed.

laughterWendy Woods of Watershed Training Solutions is a laughter yoga instructor and runs the club at Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue in Toronto. She says the benefits of laughter and laughter yoga help in everyday life, especially for Moms. “It’s another tool that allows us to approach life a little lighter.”

The best part of laughter is that even if you fake it you get a pay off. Studies show the positive effects of smiling occur whether it is fake or real. Faked laughter provides the benefits of a real laugh.

Woods believes we know intuitively the benefits of laughter. “We can hardly wait to get together with friends who make us laugh. We know intuitively that laughter is a great thing but it’s taking it from a subconscious level, a reactive level, and bringing it to something proactive, so now it becomes a skill that we use”, says Woods.

And that’s where laughter yoga comes into play. It teaches you how to use laughter as a tool. “You are not doing downward dog and laughing”, adds Woods. “The yoga part is in the breathing. The breathing and stretching and the fact that laughter naturally brings us to getting some yogic benefits.”

A laughter yoga session with Woods lasts about 1½ hours and includes some meditation. It includes a series of activities that force you to laugh. You won’t be laughing at jokes or at a funny movie. Wood says it is based on  the concept of laughing for no reason, you start out faking the laughter and because it’s in a group and laughter is so contagious, real laughter kicks in. Woods says the group starts out with laughter yoga introductions where everyone says their name and then laughs and then says something about themselves and then laughs. Everyone in the group joins in on the laughter.

Woods believes laughter is a key to happiness, health and a lighter, less stressful life. It’s about finding that childlike playfulness. Woods says parents should look to their children for inspiration, in more ways than one. Children laugh on average 400 times a day, compare that to an adults average 15 laughs a day. “We get very removed from that childlike playfulness that innocence”, says Woods. “When we are in that mode and we are laughing and in pure joy we are in the present. We’re not focused on any other stressors in our life, any worries.”

For more on laughter yoga or to find a class, check out Wendy Woods’ website at You can find tips, information, and locations of laughter yoga classes and sessions across Toronto.

And remember, laugh when ever you can. It can help you live a healthier and happier life.


Christy Laverty is a Mother of two wild and crazy girls and wife to a talented artist. Playing Mom and wife keep her busy by day, and in the evenings Christy is a editor for a Toronto all news radio station. Christy has spent about a decade in the news business, both in television and radio. She also does freelance writing for several parenting magazines. Check out Christy on her blog where she updates the trials, tribulations, and fun of being Mother of two beautiful girls.


Maria Lianos-Carbone is the author of “Oh Baby! A Mom’s Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year”, and publisher of, a leading lifestyle blog for women.

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