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Are you having a laugh?

14 Dec 2014

Are you having a laugh? Image

Laughter Yoga Australia and New Zealand CEO Merv Neal has brought the secrets of laughter health yoga to Boyd Community Hub in Southbank.

As a leading expert on how laughter impacts on human physiology, the Freshwater Place resident said he now swears by laughter as the best form of medicine having miraculously recovered from a life-threatening illness in 2002.

According to Mr Neal, doctors had told him nothing could be done to cure him, which is when he said he decided to laugh it off.

“I was working, drinking and doing all the things to constitute an illness and ended up with a very serious, life-threatening illness,” he said. “When I was given the news that potentially nothing could be done about it I laughed.”

“When the doctor asked, why are you laughing? I said I have no idea, I just think that this whole situation is funny. They said well it’s not funny it’s really, really bad. I said I just think it’s funny and continued to laugh.”

According to Merv, the more he continued to laugh the healthier he became and naturally he became curious as to how.

Since making his recovery, the 58-year-old has since established Laughter Yoga Australia and New Zealand, an organisation committed to establishing as many laughter yoga clubs and programs as possible.

Having conducted two research studies into the impacts of laughter on people, Mr Neal is now a qualified gelotologist (otherwise known as a laughter practitioner) and travels the world speaking about the benefits of laughter.

After conducting his research on negative measures such as stress, depression and anxiety as well as positive measures including mood-control and self-esteem, he said laughter yoga had a positive impact in all areas after just one session.

He said his second study, focusing on kidney dialysis patients, showed that laughter boosted a range of areas including the immune system and blood pressure.

“Deakin University found through that research study, that laughter has an instant impact,” he said. “You don’t have to do it for six months. It has an instant impact on someone’s being in a positive way.”

“What laughter does, regardless of what your situation, is provide a balance. So, if something is too high, it brings it down. If something is too low, it brings it up.”

“That’s particularly important. If you’re stressed, it will calm you. If you are lacking energy, it will energise you.”

While many would assume a class practising laughter would derive from a joke book, Mr Neal said that was not the case.

According to Merv, laughter yoga instead puts the body into a simulated state of laughter through a range of techniques with guaranteed effects.

“We have a saying in laughter yoga that says we can’t cure anything, but we can help to cure everything,” he said.

“So it doesn’t necessarily solve a person’s problems but it dissolves it to a point where they can think more clearly about maybe what it is they have to do and get unstuck from the situation that they’re in.”

“They are then able to make some more logical decisions about providing a better life for themselves in regard to their health and happiness.”

Mr Neal said he was incredibly excited to be bringing laughter yoga to Southbank and called on anyone to come see what it’s all about.

“I have lived in Southbank just on five years now and it’s outstanding. It’s absolutely brilliant here,” he said.

“Essentially, Boyd Community Hub could be seen as a community centre or a local gym so come down for some physical health but what about some emotional and mental health as well?”

Laughter Yoga is held every Tuesday evening at Boyd Community Hub at 6pm.

To make an enquiry contact Mr Neal at

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