How Laughter Yoga is healing Wales, one valley at a time

Your own mental well-being is no laughing matter. That is unless you’re attending one of Nova Barton’s Laughter Yoga sessions, live from Rhondda Valley

Nova Barton is launching her Laughter Yoga business, promoting health and wellbeing by simply, having a laugh. The life coach from Maerdy hosts weekly zoom sessions to practise the breakthrough technology with anyone who is willing to give it a go.

In March, Nova Barton started hosting laughter sessions with her family to cheer them up. She completed a 5-9 course with small business support group Welsh ice during lockdown and started coaching a community of laughers as part of her job.

The Laughter Yoga sessions take place on Monday evenings over Zoom. Nova also offers sober coaching and life coaching on her website, Nova coaching services.

A picture of a zoom call, with 8 people on the screen all laughing
Nova’s classes take place on Zoom every Monday at 7pm. She’s had up to 12 participants, all laughing together
Laughter Yoga?

Laughter Yoga was founded in 1995 by Dr. Madan Kataria, a doctor from Mumbai. His scientific research into laughter found that it was beneficial to both mental and physical health.

He found that the endorphins released from laughing improved a person’s mood. In his book, Laugh for No Reason he says, “When you start laughing, your chemistry changes, your physiology changes, your chances to experience happiness are much greater.” 

Kataria went on to launch over 5,000 laughter clubs across the globe, where Laughter Yoga lovers practise laughter exercises through breathing and meditation.

Laughter Yoga is based on cultivating your childlike playfulness. We all have a child inside us wanting to laugh, wanting to play.

Nova’s Plan

Nova says that “if you force yourself to laugh, your brain can’t tell the difference, you still feel the benefits”. She said Kataria invented different laughing techniques that complement yoga’s emphasis on breathing and she incorporates these in her classes.

“The shared experience of laughing in a group together is amazing, it gives an instant hit of endorphins,” Nova says.

Nova says, “If you force yourself to laugh, your brain can’t tell the difference, you still feel the benefits”. Kataria’s different laughing techniques complement Yoga’s emphasis on breathing and help boost serotonin levels in the body.

She said the difference is, “Where in normal yoga you would have a downward dog, you have a laughing based activity as an alternative.”

Nova believes Laughter Yoga can help all kinds of things; mental health struggles, stress, anxiety, physical health, and your immune system.

With a background in substance misuse support Nova hopes in future she can incorporate Laughter Yoga into her recovery programs.

She wants to “get Rhondda Valley laughing first, and then the rest!”

Nova’s services