Eric Bourgault is offering free laughter sessions at the Quadra Village Community Centre Jan. 26 and Feb. 2.

Eric Bourgault is offering free laughter sessions at the Quadra Village Community Centre Jan. 26 and Feb. 2.

Victoria resident teaches the power of laughter

Eric Bourgault is a firm believer that laughter truly is the best medicine.

Eric Bourgault is a firm believer that laughter truly is the best medicine.

When the 42-year-old moved to Victoria three years ago after a five-year journey cycling around the world, he noticed a lack of connectivity amongst city residents.

He went through a personal breakdown, with a black cloud hanging over his head. So Bourgault began looking for ways to rebalance himself and connect with others. That’s when he heard about a yoga laughter session at Beacon Hill Park. He decided to attend with no expectations and was blown away by his experience.

“I saw a huge shift from being in my head to being in my heart and feeling the difference,” said Bourgault, adding participants tapped into their child-like spirit.

“We’re driven by this idea that we need to laugh because there’s a reason for it. Kids laugh for absolutely no reason because they are in touch with their emotions and as we get older we let go of that. To see a bunch of adults in a park laughing for no reason, it’s pretty refreshing.”

Being in show business most of his life, Bourgault was used to going on stage wearing a fake smile even if his heart felt heavy. But laughing for no reason with a bunch of strangers in the park was a freedom he’d never been able to find anywhere else.

Developed in 1995 by a doctor from India, laughter yoga is based on the belief that voluntary laughter provides the same physiological and psychological benefits as spontaneous laughter. The practice is done in groups with eye contact and playfulness between participants. Forced laughter soon turns into real and contagious laughter.

According to laughteryoga.org, research shows laughter lowers the level of stress hormones in the blood and body, and can help change a mood within minutes by releasing endorphins from brain cells.

The concept has blossomed into more than 6,000 laughter yoga clubs worldwide, including a few in Victoria like the Victoria Laughter Yoga Club, which Bourgault is also a part of.

About a year ago, Bourgault decided to branch out on his own as a laughter wellness coach, focusing specifically on laughter for individuals and groups with specific needs. In his sessions, Bourgault uses a story board based on a specific theme emphasizing the dynamic of the group’s interactions.

He admits people at first feel silly and are hesitant to give forced laughter a whirl, but eventually they are able to step out of their comfort zone, tap into their child-like spirit and feel the power laughter can bring.

“It changed my life. It gave me a natural boost and the privilege to look at situations where I used to react negatively and see it for what it is,” said Bourgault.

“It’s the most convenient way to connect people together…The more you do it, the more you see a sudden change.”

Bourgault is offering free laughter sessions at the Quadra Village Community Centre Jan. 26 and Feb. 2. For more information visit laughterinmotion.ca. A Laugh Out Loud parade, organized by the Victoria Laughter Yoga Club, will be held on Sunday, Jan. 31 at Centennial Square at 1 p.m.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Located at 9750 West Saanich Rd., this North Saanich mansion is on the market for $10.25 million. (Realtor.ca photo)
Located at 9750 West Saanich Rd., this North Saanich mansion is on the market for $8.65 million. (Realtor.ca photo)
The five most expensive homes for sale in Greater Victoria

A roundup of luxury estates currently on the market

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely first in B.C. for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Jimmy Fallon joked that a woman’s 4.5-star review of a Langford jail is “the most Canadian thing you could do” in The Tonight Show Jan. 21. (Screenshot/YouTube)
VIDEO: Jimmy Fallon jokes Canadian jails are basically hotels following woman’s 4.5-star review

Woman gave handwritten card to police following stay in Langford cells

Sidney's Beacon Wharf
Pontoon company piqued at prospect of public-private partnership around Sidney wharf

Seagate approached to submit proposeal for public-private partnership

Following a cease work order from the District of Highlands in October, the BC Supreme Court ruled Jan. 20. that bylaws won’t apply to O.K. Industries’ work until its quarrying activity is complete. (Courtesy of District of Highlands)
BC Supreme Court rules Highlands quarry work can continue

District bylaws won’t apply until quarrying activities are complete

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Terry Keogh, an RDN Transit driver, used his paramedic skills the morning of Jan. 22 after coming across an unconscious woman along his route in downtown Nanaimo. (RDN Transit photo)
Nanaimo transit driver stops his bus and helps get overdosing woman breathing again

Former EMT from Ireland performed CPR on a woman in downtown Nanaimo on Friday

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at the Okisollo fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. The First Nations Leadership Council says an attempt by industry to overturn the phasing out of salmon farms in the Discovery Islands in contrary to their inherent Title and Rights. (THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward photo)
First Nations Leadership Council denounces attempt to overturn salmon farm ban

B.C.’s producers filed for a judicial review of the Discovery Islands decision Jan. 18

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

More than 100 B.C. fishermen, fleet leaders, First Nations leaders and other salmon stakeholders are holding a virtual conference Jan. 21-22 to discuss a broad-range of issues threatening the commercial salmon fishery. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. commercial salmon fishermen discuss cures for an industry on the brink

Two-day virtual conference will produce key reccomendations for DFO

Black Press file photo
Investigation at remote burned-out Vancouver Island cabin reveals human remains

Identity of victim not released, believed to be the owner of an SUV vehicle found parked nearby

Angela Waldick is the new team photographer for the Nanaimo NightOwls. (Nanaimo NightOwls photo)
Half-blind photographer will help new Island baseball team look picture-perfect

Nanaimo NightOwls say legally blind team photographer is making history

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Most Read