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Laughter yoga

July 15 @ 6:30 am - 7:30 pm


The old adage that “laughter is the best medicine” has become the mantra of a yoga teacher who believes even fake chuckles could “change your life”.

Clive St James, from Bath, is a laughter yoga leader, who discovered at a young age that doing comedy impersonations helped his mother’s chronic depression.

Laughter releases endorphins, known as “feel-good hormones” and reduces stress hormones, he said.

“It supercharges you. It’s about having fun while you’re exercising. Once you gain the basic skills, you can change someone’s life,” said Mr St James.

“Of course, it’s yoga, so we do all the stretching exercises.

“We know that’s good for you and makes us stronger, more flexible but we also want to become advanced breathers.

“We only laugh on the out breath, so this is a good way of getting rid of all the stale air at the bottom of your lungs,” he told BBC Bristol

Feel-good hormones
Though laughing therapy has been used for decades, laughing yoga was started by Dr Madan Kataria, a doctor in Mumbai, India, in 1995.

After a number of trials, he discovered that our brains are unable to tell the difference between fake or real laughs.

“The brain doesn’t know the difference between laughing for real, or pretend laughing,” said Mr St James.

“If someone tells you a joke, you have to decide if it’s funny, or if you’ve heard it before, or if it’s going to upset you.

“But if you laugh for no reason, you still get your daily dose of those lovely endorphins,” he added.

In 2023, a study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress and endorsed by the British Heart Foundation, external (BHF), found that laughter therapy led to improvements in the heart and circulation.

There are now more than 5,000 laughter yoga clubs worldwide. According to the BHF, some doctors in Bristol offer laughter yoga to help improve their patients’ wellbeing.

Mr St James has first-hand experience of the beneficial power of laughter, after he started doing impersonations of the late comedian, Tommy Cooper, as a child to help with his mother’s chronic depression.

“I would put a flower pot on my head – Tommy Cooper habitually wore a red fez when performing – and that made her smile.

“It would take her out of this dark space,” he said.

Mr St James was also crowned the Guinness World Record’s fastest comedian for the last eight years. This involves getting audiences to laugh within moments of the comedian arriving on stage.

He now runs regular laughter yoga workshops with his wife, Jackie.

Their free classes take place on Mondays at 18:30 BST in Sydney Gardens.

A special session on 15 July will pit participants from Bath against those from Bristol.


July 15
6:30 am - 7:30 pm
Event Category:


Clive Greenaway
O7860 290437


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