Yoga - Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation. A system of physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation derived from Yoga but often practiced independently especially in Western cultures to promote bodily or mental control and well-being.
One specialist that is dedicated to serving the disabled population is exercise physiologist and certified laughter yoga leader Debbie Friend, who says laughter yoga, the unique and multi-faceted exercise concept combines simulated laughter exercises with breathing techniques to produce a wide range of physical, psychological, and emotional benefits, is realizing many positive outcomes within the special-needs community. Laughter yoga is a body-mind approach and does not rely on jokes or humor to deliver results because the body produces an internal workout by exercising the diaphragm, contracting the abdominals, stimulating the heart and lungs, improving the circulation and blood flow, increasing oxygen delivery throughout the body and massaging the internal organs. Ultimately, when laughter is practiced on a regular basis, the quality of life is greatly improved.
"One does not have to be happy, have a sense of humor or be in a good mood in order to reap the many benefits," said Friend, who founded Life Currents, an organization dedicated to providing educational and highly effective laughter yoga programs. "In addition to being an enjoyable activity that keeps the participants focused on the movement, laughter is a universal language that transcends all barriers and improves inter-personal relationships to enhance communication."
With a focus on developing sessions for a wide range of participants including cancer patients and people in job transition, Friend is extremely excited to be a co-creator and co-instructor of an innovative and highly-effective program at The North Shore Dojo in Glenview, Ill. with Sensei Jeff Kohn, an internationally renowned karate coach and chairman for the United States Disabled Karate Team, and recipient of the 2011 Paralympic Coach of the Year Award for karate by the United States Olympic Committee. The two co-instruct a unique karate and laughter yoga class to a group of developmentally disabled young adult participants from Anixter Center Adult Community Transition Program.
"Every Monday I co-teach a combo class of karate and laughter yoga to a group of developmentally disabled young adults who participate in Anixter's ACT (i.e., Adult Community Transition) Program," says Friend expressing that the technique was designed specifically for the group of young adults. "They spend the first 45 minutes going through an obstacle course, learning self-defense skills, and karate routines, and they finish up the last 15 minutes with me leading them in stretches, practicing laughter yoga, breathing techniques, and end the session with a visualization activity."
Friend said what she enjoys the most about working with young adults who are developmentally disabled is seeing how they grow, succeed and accomplish their goals over time. "Working with them has brought so much into my life and it's an honor and blessing to be a part of theirs," said Friend, who works with adults in all variations of disabilities. "No two experiences are ever alike and dealing with a diverse client base, I am fortunate to meet and work with individuals from a multitude of backgrounds and situations and being able to help individuals laugh and find joy during trying times in their lives is rewarding beyond belief."
About Debbie Friend - Debbie Friend, a certified laughter yoga specialist received her received her Master's degree in exercise physiology and cardiac rehabilitation at Northeastern Illinois University. She is a contributor for Blogcritics.org and was recently featured in The Seven Joys of Life, a book including nineteen thought leaders from six countries and four continents all in one book.
About Life Currents - Life Currents was developed in 2012 and presenting programs and workshops since 2008, to provide educational, enjoyable and highly effective stress management and laughter yoga programs. Life Currents services are provided in corporations, schools, spas, non-profits and in the special-needs community. Life Currents represent clients for laughter yoga and stress management programs such as The Cancer Wellness Center (Northbrook, Ill.), Harper College Career Stimulus Program, Lincolnshire Yoga, Lake County/Waukegan YWCA, North Shore Dojo, Buffalo Grove St. Mary's Church, Gilman's Heartland Spa, BPI Group, and Church Creek Retirement Community. For more information, visit www.lifecurrents.net