In a parallel world, I’m sure I’d be a mermaid.
More like Disney’s Arial who laughs and plays and frolics in the water rather than the mystical sirens who enticed seafarers to their death.
I’ve previously written of my love of water and have done aqua-aerobics for fun and fitness for too many years to count.
At the recent 14th annual laughter conference and joy festival, organised by Laughter Yoga Australia, I shared this love by experimenting with an aqua laughter session. As a long-time aqua-aerobics participant I knew that exercise in water could be a terrific alternative to running, jogging and land-based aerobics or dance.
Water exercise benefits
Water exercise is excellent for building strength, easing stiff joints and relaxing sore muscles.
- Water’s buoyancy minimises the effects of gravity. There’s less impact on joints, which enables you to work harder, comfortably.
- Water gives me an enhanced range of movement too, enhancing flexibility.
- At the same time, the increased resistance of water makes movement a more intense workout.
- Sometimes, we shy away from a movement for fear of falling: the buoyancy of water is like a safety net or spotter, supporting you.
- Buoyancy, along with hydrostatic pressure of water, improves circulation.
In my experience, aqua-aerobics classes are fun and social too.
Laughter yoga benefits
Laughter yoga, a combination of simulated playful laughter exercises with gentle stretches, clapping and the deep breath of yoga, brings many physical and psychological health benefits, along with being fun and social.
Key physical benefits of laughter yoga are legion from improving the immune system and improving heart health. Read about physiological benefits
Laughter yoga is also proven to:
- allay fears, worries, and depression
- defuse negative thoughts
- boost mood
- encourage bonding.
Bringing laughter and water exercise together
Combining laughter yoga and aqua-aerobics had been on my mind for the past few years. And I wasn’t alone in seeing this natural union. Italian laughter yoga practitioners Georges Toscani and Sabina Gerin (who is also a qualified aqua-aerobics instructor) had recognised the potential too. Together, they developed their aqua-aerobics program, delivered online and in workshops (in Italy and Canada so far).
There are the familiar aqua aerobic movements like jumping jacks and cross-country ski and jogging in the water while laughing. They use music too, as aqua aerobic instructors do, for rhythm and to encourage dance. The big difference is that the instructor is in the pool, not poolside, instructing and doing. I’m grateful to have worked with Georges and Sabina
In my HOhOH2O© session, participants quickly overcame any concern about the water (or being ‘exposed’ in their swimsuits) and were laughing and splashing with child-like playfulness as we adapted laughter exercises interspersed with breathwork. I finished the session with some quiet supported floating.
Certified laughter yoga leaders can learn how to adapt their skills in the water with Sabina and Georges’ online training program.
Here in Australia, I’m now keen to train aqua-aerobic instructors in laughter yoga exercises to spread the concept. I see it as another way of encouraging healthy fun activity for all abilities. And yes, I’ll be seeking a location to splash about for laughter wellbeing in Brisbane very soon.
(c) HeatherJoy Campbell is a certified laughter yoga teacher/trainer in Brisbane, Australia who delivers professional laughter wellbeing sessions in workplaces, communities and in aged care.