Laughing yoga on Mental Health Day an unusual success

May 15, 2019

Laughing yoga on Mental Health Day an unusual success

AUT city campus Gym instructor Naomi Iovodua said laughing yoga was a great way to get people to use their voice while raising awareness for mental health. Photo: Vanessa Shaw

Laughing yoga launched across all AUT campuses during last week’s University Mental Health Day.

AUT city campus Gym instructor Naomi Iovodua said the strangeness of the exercise worked in its favour.

“It’s not really ‘exercise’ in your most traditional sense. I guess it’s a little more appealing to those who don’t really feel comfortable in a gym environment,” she said.

The yoga consisted of warmup exercises where people forced laughter until it was genuine, with the intent to let loose and have fun at the same time.

“It was just something a little bit different, something just to help people relax, loosen up a little bit, and think about movement,” she said.

Laughing yoga fit into the focus of Mental Health Day: ‘Use your voice.’

AUT spokesperson Alison Sykora said the goal was to increase awareness of mental health and encourage students and staff to speak up about it.

“Supporting the mental health needs of New Zealanders, particularly those in tertiary study is a growing challenge across the country.

“This event helped AUT to highlight the issues and share information about support services and foster continued discussion,” said Ms Sykora.

The university was unable to provide the number of attendees, but Ms Sykora said there was a large amount of support across all three campuses for Mental Health Day.

There are more plans in the works for future Mental Health Days, particularly for postgraduate students. These would focus on managing stress, performance anxiety and maintaining wellness.

Ms Iovodoa said AUT Gym want to continue their success of laughing yoga for future events, as well as bring in other forms of yoga.

“We had quite a few people trying it out, some of them trying [laughing yoga] for the first time and some of them just trying any form of yoga for the first time as well.

“We’re definitely looking at bringing in other forms of yoga or other ways of movement and physical activity,” she said.

As well as focusing on postgraduate students, Ms Skyroa said AUT would continue to ensure there was the same amount of support for all students.

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