Combating Loneliness in Senior Care Settings: Laughter Yoga Intervention

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Senior care facilities have long grappled with the challenge of loneliness, which has been further exacerbated by the social distancing measures imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to this pressing issue, Alok Mahadevia, a certified Laughter Yoga Leader, has emerged as a pioneer in providing virtual laughter yoga sessions to combat loneliness and promote well-being among senior residents.

Understanding Laughter Yoga: A Holistic Approach to Health

Laughter yoga, developed by Indian physician Madan Kataria in 1995, combines group exercises with deep breathing techniques to enhance overall health. Mahadevia emphasizes that laughter yoga is predicated on the principle that simulated or fake laughter elicits similar psychological benefits as genuine laughter. By incorporating ancient Pranayama breathing techniques, laughter yoga acts as a natural pain reliever, reducing Cortisol levels while enhancing creativity.

“Laughter yoga triggers the release of serotonin and endorphins, inducing a state of elation without pharmaceuticals or adverse effects,” explains Mahadevia. He further highlights that laughter yoga boosts immunity and has proven effective in alleviating chronic illnesses where other therapies have fallen short. “Loneliness is a significant contributor to mortality. Laughter is its antidote,” he affirms. “Most laughter yoga exercises involve simulating laughter until it becomes spontaneous and contagious. Eye contact plays a crucial role in fostering genuine laughter and fostering a positive outlook, ultimately aiding in longevity.”

Mahadevia’s personal journey with laughter yoga began in Redondo Beach, California, where he experienced loneliness for the first time. “I resorted to podcasts and music to fill the void, but I realized that wallowing in sadness was futile,” he recounts. “I decided to transform my pain into a catalyst for personal growth and contribute positively to society.”

Inspired by laughter yoga demonstrations he witnessed in Mumbai, India, Mahadevia researched its scientific underpinnings. After studying online exercises, he ventured into a retirement home to share laughter yoga with its residents. “Their response was overwhelmingly positive. They laughed uproariously and expressed gratitude for bringing such joy to their lives. It made me realize the transformative power of laughter yoga.” Subsequently, Mahadevia obtained his certification as a Laughter Yoga Leader, embarking on a mission to combat loneliness through this innovative practice.

Combating Loneliness with Laughter Yoga: A Universal Intervention

Mahadevia’s laughter yoga workshops have garnered a diverse audience, including seniors, corporate professionals, hospital patients, and individuals from various walks of life. His virtual Zoom sessions during the pandemic have reached over 700 participants in 16 countries, ranging in age from 10 to 70 years. “Loneliness transcends age barriers,” he observes. “Young people experience unprecedented levels of anxiety, making laughter yoga beneficial for all age groups.”

Prior to the pandemic, Mahadevia’s in-person workshops featured an introductory icebreaker, a 45-minute laughter yoga session emphasizing its benefits and specific exercises, and a concluding five-minute meditation. Adapting to the pandemic’s restrictions, Mahadevia has transitioned his workshops exclusively to Zoom and other video conferencing platforms.

In the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Mahadevia recognizes the amplified threat of loneliness, particularly among seniors. “This virus has exacerbated an already prevalent silent epidemic,” he states. “I aimed to prove that laughter could be more contagious than COVID, which led to the creation of Laugh With Loki.”

Laugh With Loki consists of weekly virtual laughter yoga sessions held via Zoom, attracting participants from around the world. Mahadevia also aspires to extend his virtual workshops to senior living communities. “Seniors who participate in laughter yoga sessions express an overwhelming sense of lightness and joy,” he notes. “It’s a simple yet profoundly effective practice.”

Mahadevia encourages senior care facilities to embrace laughter yoga as a tool to combat loneliness among their residents. By learning these techniques, residents can independently engage in laughter yoga for long-lasting benefits. “It’s incredibly accessible,” says Mahadevia. “Incorporating these exercises into your daily routine can significantly elevate your energy levels and overall well-being.”

“Witnessing the escalation of loneliness during the pandemic, I’m committed to reducing isolation and providing solace,” asserts Mahadevia. “Laughter yoga is a biological hack that can uplift anyone’s spirits within minutes. Why not harness its transformative power?”

  • The Benefits of Laughter Yoga for Seniors
  • How Laughter Yoga Can Help You Live a Longer, Healthier Life
  • Laughter Yoga: A Powerful Tool for Stress Relief
Credit and Rights: OMG I Yoga
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