Laughter is the Best Medicine

May 02 2013 Posted: 09:52 IST

Galway hosts Ireland’s first Laughter Championship

Ireland’s firstLaughter Championship will take place on Sunday, 5 May at 2pm in the Galway Harbour Hotel, Galway in aid ofJigsaw, Galway. Organised by NUI Galway student, Siobhan Kavanagh, the charity event coincides with next month’s Well Being in Ireland conference, where researchers from all over the world will gather in Galway to discuss the design of a national well-being index for Ireland.

Laughter Championships are a new craze taking off worldwide re invented by Albert Nerenberg. Contestants are asked to demonstrate different types of laugher (e.g. a maniacal laugh or a diabolical laugh) and are then judged on their technique. The main aim is to improve the expression of positive human emotions.

The growing popularity of Laugher Championships is partly due to the rise of Laughter Yoga, a modernised variant of Hasya Yoga. Laughter yoga is an aerobic exercise which involves breathing exercises, laughter exercises and guided meditation (yoga nidra), to provide participants with a safe space to laugh.

Siobhan Kavanagh is a PhD student in Child and Youth Research in NUI Galway’s School of Psychology and a member of the Irish Laughter Yoga association. Her research with Dr Padraig MacNeela, Lecturer in the University’s School of Psychology, investigates the impact of Laughter Yoga on well-being.

“Although laughter has been described as the best medicine, researchers are only starting to understand the positive effects it can have on the body and mind, or indeed on well-being. Research on laughter yoga has found many benefits, for example, increased levels of life satisfaction, positive emotion and decreased stress levels. However, to date there has only been a handful of different studies completed, and a lot of the 'evidence' for laughter yoga comes from humour based research. We need to be mindful when we are telling people about the positive effects of laughter yoga, that research is still in the early stages. However, ancedotally, laughter yoga participants report a range of benefits”, explains Siobhan.

The event is free to attend with live entertainment, including laughter yoga demonstrations, face-painting, games and music and there is a €10 charge to enter the championship, with the chance of winning the title of Irish Laughter Champion. All proceeds will be donated to Jigsaw, a free and confidential support service for young people in Galway city and county.

All competitors will be required to attend a workshop at 1pm in preparation for the laughter championships. For further information on competing, or to volunteer at the event email


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