A group in Gorton has exemplified the power of laughter to improve mental health and bring the community closer together.
The laughter yoga sessions, run by Robin Graham, take place every four weeks at Gorton Monastery and are free to the public.
Robin said: “What interested me was how we can use laughter in our lives, not just being silly.
“If we can laugh despite our challenges, or with our challenges, then automatically our stress goes down, our happiness comes up, and we’re more able to deal with them.”
The laughter yoga movement started in India in 1995, and Robin believed that the exercises are just as vital in the face of modern day issues.
He added: “With all the things happening in our lives, and happening around us, many of which we have no control over, we have an option.
“We face up to our challenges with a heavy heart and stress, or we can find some way of bringing laughter into our lives.”
The group session last Sunday saw a large turnout, but was solely comprised of women, something that Robin wanted to see change going forward.
He outlined how societal expectations prevent a lot of men from opening up with the necessary abandon required for laughter yoga to work, and how it is going to take greater publicity of the lifestyle to change male mindsets.
The church in Gorton, by the simple name of The Monastery, was bought for just £1 in 1996 by a group of volunteers after it was left abandoned by property developers.
The aim for the centre, following its closure during the pandemic, is to promote healthy well-being across the local community in the hope that this can enact global change.
The positive effect on participants’ minds was something that Mr Graham focused on, and highlighted why his sessions fit so well with the Monastery’s ethos.
He finished by saying: “Laughter is a way of bringing people together.
“Laughing together, not at each other, but with each other, then that’s going to have an effect of being a release.”