13 APRIL 2018

Laughter Yoga for Cancer Patients

Laughing your way to better health

Parkway Cancer Centre organises laughter yoga sessions for cancer patients. They started laughing in silence. Then, the laughter grew in volume, from soft to loud. Then it changed tune, going “he he he” like a motor that would not start. This was what participants at a laughter yoga session organised by Parkway Cancer Centre in February went through, letting their imagination run as facilitator Miranda Ledesma guided them to laugh for “no good reasons”. It “was difficult” and “felt silly” in the beginning, but participants soon got the hang of it and found themselves laughing from the bottom of their heart. “I cannot get the smile off my face after all that laughter,” said Jacqueline Birt, 48, a Stage 4 colon cancer patient from Jakarta. “I think I will feel happy for the rest of the day!” Today, more people are putting the saying “laughter is the best medicine” into practice, and there might be some truth to it. Laughter yoga is known to increase oxygen intake and blood flow, improve blood vessel function, and lower blood pressure. Parkway Cancer Centre will also be organising Laughter Yoga sessions once every two months, in the hope to take some stress off patients’ minds. “Deep belly laughing in laughter yoga has numerous health benefits that can lead to better pain management and more positive emotions,” said Miranda. “As we grow up, we become conditioned to leave playfulness behind with childhood. This is a damaging mindset because a child-like spirit can serve us well throughout life. Laugh with your colleagues, friends, and family. Join a laughter club – there are a few in Singapore. And if you do not have anyone who wants to laugh with you, laugh by yourself.” Participant Chua Kim Lee, 55, Stage 3 nose cancer patient, has promised herself to laugh more, alone or with her best friend who accompanied her to the laughter yoga session held at the Botanic Gardens. Being the first to be hit with cancer in her family and suffering chemotherapy side effects like limb numbness that made simple tasks like walking and writing difficult, sent her into helplessness. She had no idea when she might regain her health. Understandably, it was difficult to laugh. “When I fall sick, I try to laugh but I cannot laugh. I cannot laugh, I cannot cry. I do not know how to react… I really envy those who can laugh at every small thing.” She signed up for Laughter Yoga after learning about the session. In the session, she laughed like never before in a long time. “I will remind myself to laugh more,” she said.

What laughter can do

  • Relieves stress
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Improves cardiac health
  • Boosts lung capacity
  • Elevate mood/instils positive mindset
  • Improves pain tolerance/relieves pain
Written by Chua Hwee Leng
TAGS cancer support group, healthy lifestyle, stress and cancer