top of page

Meet The Disruptors: Laughing Lovebugs

THE Laughing Lovebugs Help With Your Overall Physical And Emotional Health

Lauren and Alik Colbert take laughter very serious. The laughing duo is on a mission to educate the world to laugh daily. These Certified Laughter Yogi's provide wellness services for all kinds of occasions. Your safety, comfort, vulnerability, and trust are their mission, and their yoga technique will help reduce stress and bring out joy and connection through laughter.

Photographer: (c) Ryan Powell Photography

Words: Angel Neal

What initially led you to laughter yoga in the first place?

It was the stress in the workplace on both of our ends. And we were in a really dark place at that time. Lauren: I myself, unfortunately, from that workplace stress experienced some health issues. Every time I would go to the doctor and say, what is causing this and the doctor would say it could be stress. But my issue was, I did not know how to manage my stress or how to de-stress. So one day, I was feeling really low, and I was like, You know what, I wish it was something I could do to relieve stress. So I googled those exact words, unique ways to relieve stress, and laughter yoga pops up, and I'm like, is this real? I never heard of laughter yoga, Is this legit and I did further research and saw that it was a real thing. It was founded in 1995, by a medical doctor in India that found that laughter really is medicine.

What ages can participate in laughter yoga?

All ages, from age four and up to seniors can participate in laughter yoga, it's unlike your traditional yoga session. You don't need a yoga mat. You don't need any special clothing. You don't need to be flexible. You don't need to be in a good mood. Because in laughter, yoga, we're teaching people to laugh unconditionally, to choose to laugh to improve their mental, emotional, physical and social health at the same time. And the only part about laughter yoga that is similar to traditional yoga is the deep yogic breathing exercises. So we always tell people, you can participate at any age, because all you need to do is learn how to laugh and breathe.

Can you guys give us a little snippet of the environment participants can expect in the session?

So every time we start a session, we always give the introduction, the steps and the guidelines to laughter yoga. You can expect a nurturing, comforting environment where all you have to do is follow the instructions. It's a bit like Simon Says, where we show and tell and then we actually do the laughter exercises together. It's an interactive session. So you can expect to, you know, make a lot of eye contact, whether it's virtually on a zoom session, or in person, and you can expect that you're going to be laughing unconditionally, which may feel a bit uncomfortable at first because we logic our way through laughter typically in life. We rely on humor, comedy or reason to laugh, but in laughter yoga, we always say that you're choosing to laugh for the health of it. So the best part about laughter yoga is you can actually fake laughter during a session. So you can do this in any type of physical location as well. We've had participants that have done virtual sessions even in the back of an Uber. You can do this at workplaces, you can do this in a park, you can do this at family gatherings. You can do this anywhere, as long as you can laugh and breathe. We actually customize the sessions according to the demographic we're serving. So for example, the children's yoga session will look quite different than a workplace laughter yoga session and a workplace laughter yoga session will look quite different than a laughing yoga session with seniors. The demographic has their own challenges and their own points that they need to address. So we customize each session to go with that.

What mantra do you guys live by?

Lauren: Don't wait to laugh, choose to laugh. Alik: The best time to laugh is when you feel like you can't or you don't want to.

There's an increase in the divorce rate around the world, and people often talk about one of the reasons of failed marriages is that couples don’t date or have any fun together anymore.Could it be that they don't laugh anymore as a couple? What advice would you give to a couple trying to bring back the joyinto their marriage?

Wow, that's a really great question. That's one of the demographics, we love educating and serving couples, But the thing is, couples laughter is so important and engaging in laughter and in playfulness more is a priority. Especially because there are so many challenges that can be experienced in relationships whether it be family or with your significant other. You're two different people who have two different life experiences and two different ways of thinking, ways of being. So you're more likely to run into some type of disagreement or conflict or something, sometimes even run into stress. But the thing is, when you can laugh with each other, it adds levity and lightness to the relationship. And to be around a person that you love, and to see their face light up when you laugh. It just reminds you why you're together. When we're laughing together, when we look at each other, it's our best face. It's the face that attracted us to our loved one. it adds that levity, it adds a level of connection, you could look at your, your loved one, and you see that you're both laughing, you know, you have some type of understanding. It's a universal language of not only humans, but the universal language of love. The most interesting thing we learned along this laughter journey in our relationship is we use laughter a lot. And so coincidentally, and ironically, the same happy hormones that we mentioned earlier, the dopamine, the oxytocin, the serotonin, and endorphins. All of those feel good and happy. Hormones are the same happy hormones that you release when you fall or feel love. So isn't this such a beautiful coincidence, that when we are laughing together, we're actually saying I love you. Not only do I love you on the outside, but I love you on the inside. We’ve laughed more in the time that we’ve become laughter Yogi's than we’ve ever laughed ever in our life. And we’ve noticed the difference in our connection between the two of us, our relationship has gotten a lot better from the time that we got into this business versus when we weren't in it. And it was just from laughing.

What are some of the benefits of laughter yoga?

Well, there are so many. To be quite honest and transparent with you before actually becoming laughter Yogi's and actually, even while we were practicing these sessions, outside of our business, we practiced laughter daily. And we did not believe that laughter has this many benefits, benefits were far reaching, you can't believe how many of them and how they touched on different facets of our life from pain, to sleep to connection with family and loved ones with yourself. So the benefits are really far ranging.

*Mentally, it helps reduce any anxiety or depression. It helps improve your sleep and improve your cardiovascular health in addition to relieving pain. The stresses the body the stresses any tension or and relaxes you, your mind and your body. Also, it also helps to benefit you emotionally, it helps with emotional regulation and helps with improving your emotional intelligence, emotional release. Many of us are comfortable with stress, but uncomfortable with laughter. We think that we have to wait for a reason to laugh. We think we have to wait for someone to make us laugh. So laughter yoga really helps people and even us to choose to laugh daily, and to choose to laugh.

*During those times where you feel like you don't want to laugh, or you feel like you don't feel like laughing. Because the most profound benefit of laughter yoga is it teaches us that even if the laughter is fake, the benefits are always real. Because the body and brain does not know the difference between real laughter and fake laughter. And you still release all of the feel good, happy hormones. You release dopamine, you release oxytocin, release serotonin, and endorphins, just from real laughter or fake laughter. So even with that fake laughter, you're still releasing all those feel good, happy hormones. All those hormones are activated within your body that are really good for your health, and help boost the immune system. As we said, it relieves pain. It helps us to socially connect with ourselves and others, reducing that anxiety or even some people have, like social anxiety with others. In environments is a certain environment. Some of it really lights up the reward center in the brain as well.

What’s the difference between laughter yoga and watching your favorite comedy sitcom or special?

There's three major differences between a laughter yoga session, and laughing at a funny movie or a joke, and we call them the three Ds; that's the depth of your laughter, the duration of your laughter and the dependability of that laughter.

Depth of the laughter– So we always say all laughter is good. It feels good. However, in order for those health benefits to kick in, you need that deep belly laughter that mirthful laugh that you we lead you to in laughter yoga. This helps to increase your lung capacity, increases your oxygen intake, so you can oxygenate your blood and activating

the diaphragm, in addition to relaxing all your mid muscles in the lower part of your body, which improves your cardiovascular health as well. Typically, when laughing at a funny movie or joke you're laughing very shallow and quick. A lot of us are shallow breathers. And that puts us in the sympathetic nervous system instead of activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is that relaxed and relaxed repair state of being versus the flight response, which is the sympathetic nervous system.

Duration of laughter– The timeframe matters. When you're watching a funny movie or listening to a joke, you're laughing for a few seconds or a minute, if you're lucky. In order for those health benefits to kick in again with the laughter you need to laugh at least 10 to 15 minutes of sustained laughter. You can only get that in a laughter yoga session.

Dependability of laughter. So when you're laughing in a laughter yoga session, you're guaranteed to laugh. Why? Because you're choosing to participate. You're choosing to laugh. When you're laughing at a funny movie or a joke. What do you have to do? You have to first think that is funny, right? It has to again, make you laugh. The laughter is conditional based on a condition. In laughter yoga we teach unconditional laughter, you're choosing to laugh unconditionally, for the health of it, for the health benefits of it. So with that dependability, that's a major factor as well, in the difference between laughing all the time, or especially when, when you're experiencing stress or challenges, you typically don't want to laugh, you don't feel like laughing. Well, this is the benefit of laughter yoga as well. Because when you are experiencing stress, those are times that you actually need laughter. When you feel like you shouldn't laugh and you feel like you can't. Because what happens is, we find out that scientific studies show that 90% of health conditions and illnesses are due to stress. So again, as I said, In the beginning, you know, we've become quite comfortable with stress. So stress piles on top of stress on top of stress, and we don't even realize how stressed we really are. We usually don't take the time to check in with ourselves. So minor stress, major stress, minor stress, just piles up and then unfortunately, it leads to health conditions and illnesses. So with that being said, engaging in laughter, remember, it can be fake. You can fake laugh because you're allowing yourself to release that stress, activate all of those feel good, happy hormones, allowing yourself to reset. This actually helps to interrupt and reframe your reaction to stress, serving like an emotional circuit breaker. So when you're stressed out, laugh, you flip that switch, and you kind of cancel out that stress response immediately.

Well a lot of people like to live by the saying ‘Laugh at my pain’ or ‘laugh to keep from crying.’ At what point on a stress journey should someone consider laughter yoga?

We always say that we encourage people to laugh daily. We encourage people to laugh, for the health of it, not only because this is our business, but this is our passion. Laughter yoga and laughter exercises, in particular, have really improved the quality of our lives overall. And it can improve the quality of anyone's life, that is human that can laugh and breathe. It improved the relationship we have with each other and the people around us, but most importantly, it improved the relationship we have with ourselves as individuals. So we always encourage people to laugh more during their daily life. It can be as simple as laughing while you're washing the dishes, laugh while you're getting ready, doing those things that you don't often find pleasurable. Those are the times that you laugh. There are those times where we are experiencing stress or tension in our relationship. I mean, many people think that we don't argue that we always are happy but we always tell people we don't laugh because we're happy. We're happy because we laugh! Because when we're experiencing stress or tension in our relationship, we do this laughter exercise called argument laughter where instead f verbally cursing my partner out because we're upset or stress we channel that into an angry laugh. We can be angry, we can be feeling the same emotions that anyone else can be feeling. But at the end of it, there's no need to really apologize for what was said during the anger because we're only sharing laughter. Laughter is just the sound, you can express yourself any way you want, but translate it into laughter. That way, you're releasing those pent up feelings and emotions that your holding into your your body. You're allowing yourself the opportunity to release without offending or hurting the other person, your partner, your friend, your family member, wherever you're having a conflict with. And at that moment, you have time to cool down, to reset, to reframe, and then to address the issue. Without all the emotion that heats up that feeling. So it really does help us to reset ourselves. So when we're doing the laughter argument, it allows us afterwards to talk about it, because something happens on a physiological level in the body that we don't see with that hahahahaha. It activates all those feel good, happy hormones that we mentioned earlier. It gives you that dose of those feel good happy hormones, and then also helps us to emotionally regulate ourselves. And where we're able to express better, it helps the brain to think clearer. So it increases our emotional intelligence as well. So we always encourage people to laugh, laugh more, laugh as much as possible, laugh, don't wait to do it. Don't wait for that good time or distress to stop or that celebration or that birthday. Laugh, more laugh often. If you wait for those times to laugh, those moments come far and few in between. So we always tell people to choose to laugh more, choose to laugh, when in your daily life. Anytime, anywhere, stuck in traffic, laugh.

The essential pursuit of life we feel is finding joy and finding happiness. But the issue is, how do we maintain it? You don't always have to have a reason to feel good. What do you say to those people who feel like they need a reason?

Alik: You don't need a reason to feel bad? You never question yourself, when you feel bad, you just go along with it. But when it's time to feeling good, we need all of these different moments, these reasons behind why we should feel good, we just have the right to feel good. It's your birthright to feel good. You deserve to feel good. Just because you're simply breathing, you're alive. You deserve to feel good. And many of us place conditions on feeling good. We think as we mentioned earlier, we need to have a certain amount of money or a certain career or we need to have a benchmark. We put our joy in a box and we lock it. And we only let it off when we feel like we have the right to yeah, whatever the other emotion it just runs free. So we say that's the biggest lie to tell yourself that you don't deserve to feel good, or you have to wait or, or that that's on a condition that only when something happens or only when it's your birthday, or only when it's a special event. And we're saying this from people that from from a perspective, we used to be those people. I used to bottle up my emotions when I was stressed. I would just hold it all in. And sometimes I felt like I did not deserve to live either. Prior to finding laughter, I was going through things and I felt like I didn't deserve to actually live. How strange is that? My first session of laughter yoga that I actually took, I read what a Mormon said about the benefits. I was in a yoga studio and looking around it was information posted about laughter yoga, and I'm like this stuff can't be true. All this stuff can't be true just from laughing. And the session started and I checked in with myself. I read how I felt on a scale of one to 10 To be honest, I was only at two. And the session started and I was a skeptic. I didn't believe it would work. But I actually engaged in the exercise, just like if you go to the gym, you don't want to get on a treadmill. But if you get on that treadmill and you run you're going to reap the benefits whether you like it or not. Well, I participated in the laughter yoga session. And halfway through that session I said let me check in with my scale number, it couldn't have gone up. I'm just laughing. I'm faking it. To my surprise, that number had gone up, it went up dramatically to the number 8. Nothing in my life had changed in that one session. I mean, I was down in the dumps, nothing changed. But the fact that I laughed, I felt uncomfortable laughing with strangers. And by the time that session ended, I felt like things in my life had changed, but nothing actually changed. It made me realize that my life, the things that I held, that was stressful, and things they were all temporary, it was something that I held on to. It was something that I held on to, I maintained my stress.

Lauren: And for me, I was one that did not know how to manage my stress or emotionally regulate myself. So for example, as I brought up earlier with the arguments, if we if I was experiencing stress, anger, anxiety, or tension, and even in our relationship, I would drown in those emotions that were drowned in that anger are drowned in that stress, which unfortunately, this is why I had that health conditions because of the stress and carrying that stress and be uncomfortable with stress. And for me, laughter has helped me to empower myself to be present in the moment to laugh in the face of that anxiety, laugh in the face of that stress, and also helped me to be present in the moment with feeling good. It helps me to emotionally regulate myself, where I'm no longer drowning in my emotions, I own my emotions. I can choose how I want to emote, I can choose how I want to feel I can allow myself to feel that anger or that anxiety, but I can laugh in the face of it and allow myself to ease into the next moment. Ease into the stress moment, instead of holding on to that anger holding on to that stress. So it allows me to regulate those emotions. Because emotions we always say is energy in motion is supposed to move through you. They're not there, emotions are there to help you to really be aware of what's happening. And to guide you into the next moment. They're supposed to be fluid. They're not supposed to be held on to unless it's good for you or it's beneficial for you.

What is that balance between internal and external happiness?

It's all about internal. And I would say it's 99.9. There's a big difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is temporary joy. Joy is internal. It's awakening that inner child joy. See, a lot of us for example, we laughed a lot when we were children. And one thing we know for sure, every single person as an adult once was a child. On average, children laugh about 300 to 400 times a day on average. As adults, if we're lucky, on average, we laugh about 10 to 20 times a day. A huge difference. So can you guess why we're not laughing as much as when we were children? We're stressed with responsibilities and bills, all of that has taken that inner child joy away from us. However, remember what I said it's an inner job. So that inner child is still there because you were a child once and scientific studies show that children don't laugh because they're not stressed or because they don't have bills. Children laugh because they play. As we grow older, we stop playing. Children are having a whole bunch of joyful moments because they're playing. They don't rely on a good mood or a sense of humor, or jokes or, or stress or a birthday party to laugh. They're laughing because they're joyful because they engage in play. So what laughter does is it awakens that inner child joy, the reason why we say joy is an inside job.There's something that happens on a physiological level, when you allow more joy in your body responds based on how you feel. Your body is composed of chemical and electrical signals. So you produce electrical signals that produce chemicals and chemical compounds in your body. So your cells are responding to that complement of that combination of stimuli. And when your body is full of that, if you have compounds in your body, like cortisol and all other stress hormones in your body, those take a physical effect on your body based on how you feel. Joy is unconditional.

How happiness differs?

Happiness is good, too. But it really is based on a condition. Think of happiness as a thermostat. You keep your internal thermostat set high, just like your house in the wintertime. You can bet the temperature on the outside or if it's cold, or if it's high, depending on how you set your inside. It can be a barrier for whatever else is on our side of you. And while we always share with people if you have to practice this, you have to practice joy, you have to practice feeling good. You don't have to practice stress. You don't have to practice anxiety. You don't have to practice depression, you don't have to practice paying your bills, you have to practice any of that. But you do have to practice feeling good. Laughter yoga and laughter exercises is a way to practice. Joy is a way to practice feeling good. It's a way to practice laughing more, because it could be fake. And it's so silly. That's my favorite part. It simply only takes 15 minutes rather than 10 minutes of your day, whether you're getting ready in the morning, taking a shower, working or whatever. 15 minutes of just laughter whether you're doing it in a group setting or by yourself, it's beneficial. And the thing is, as I said, many people are like, Oh, this doesn't feel comfortable, because you know, you're not laughing. There is something in the left side of the brain that wants you to think logically, your way to laughter the left side of the brain is logical, analytical and judgmental. So when you're laughing, you're not laughing for a joke or comedy or reason it may feel a little uncomfortable at first. So we will say to everyone, we understand that it may feel uncomfortable at first, but there is a way to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

And that's what I experienced in that first laughter yoga session. Like I said, I was uncomfortable. I was around strangers. It was my first time. And even though I was uncomfortable, I did it and I reaped the rewards. Now, I still felt uncomfortable. But I tried it again. And I got less uncomfortable. And over time, I got more and more comfortable with the fact that I was uncomfortable being comfortable.

Read the full interview in the Fall issue of Disrupshion Magazine, available to purchase here Magcloud.

Where can we follow you?

You can find me on all platforms @laughinglovebugs.


bottom of page