Laughter and Mental Health - Sara Kay

In this episode, Tamsin speaks to Laughter Yoga practitioner and author of the Joyful Laughter Journal, Sara Kay. They discuss how laughter can help people to get through divorce and recover afterwards.

Sara Kay, 54, from Manchester, UK, delivers Laughter Yoga sessions, training, and is also a Happiness Facilitator, running workshops for businesses and communities across the UK..

After having depression for many years, then a divorce with teenage children in tow, and coming out as LGBT, eventually in 2016 Sara found out about laughing intentionally and this was a life-changing moment to de-stress and create positivity from within.  In 2019 she was awarded the title Laughter Ambassador in recognition of her Laughter work.

Sara's passion for spreading the health benefits of Laughter Yoga shines through in her sessions, and she has significantly increased the promotion of this wonderful wellbeing exercise during the pandemic with the help and recognition of the College of Medicine.

What is Wellbeing Laughter? A unique exercise routine, intentional Laughter created through value and playful exercises interspersed with clapping and deep Yogic breathing.

How can I laugh if I don’t feel like it? With specially designed warm-up exercises, hearty laughter is initiated.  There is no need to be happy to do the exercises.

Why you should come to this activity: Wellbeing Laughter is a simultaneous mind and body workout.  The benefits include increased brain function (creativity, motivation, and production), better resilience to cope with life's challenges, great social connection, improved energy levels through a large healthy dose of feel-good endorphins, boosted immunity, decreased stress levels and pain relief, amongst many more benefits.

The first time is the hardest to do any new activity.  Simply a small amount of willingness is all that's needed – you’ll feel happier and lighter after only a few minutes.

There really is no better exercise to help through these challenging times to find happiness once more.

Contact Sara:




Tamsin is a Chartered Financial Planner with over 20 years experience. She works with couples and individuals who are at the end of a relationship and want agree how to divide their assets FAIRLY without a fight.

You can contact Tamsin at or arrange a free initial meeting using She is also part of the team running Facebook group Separation, Divorce and Dissolution UK

Tamsin Caine MSc., FPFS

Chartered Financial Planner

Smart Divorce Ltd

P.S. I am the co-author of “My Divorce Handbook – It’s What You Do Next That Counts”, written by divorce specialists and lawyers writing about their area of expertise to help walk you through the divorce process. You can buy it by scanning the QR code…
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(The transcript has been created by an AI, apologies for any mistakes)

Tamsin Caine 0:06
Hello, and welcome to the Smart Divorce Podcast. I'm Tamsin Caine and I will be your host during this our series 6 of the podcast. We're delighted that you're joining us again, and hope that you really enjoy today's episode. During series 6 we'll be speaking to other divorce professionals who help in perhaps some of the more unusual ways. So we will be speaking to lawyers who deal with international divorce. We will be speaking child inclusive mediation to name a few. I really hope that you enjoy today's episode. Let's jump right in.

Hello, and welcome to the Smart Divorce podcast. I am delighted to be joined today by my lovely friend Sara Kay from Laughter Yoga, and we're going to find out all about laughter you can see all the happy smiling faces in Sara's background, if you're watching this on YouTube.If you're listening, you might want to go and grab a quick look at the YouTube video. So as you can see, there you can see her happy smiling faces. Welcome, Sara. How are you today?

Sara Kay 1:21
I am really good. Thank you.How are you?

Tamsin Caine 1:24
Fairly good. I'm alright. I'm a bit chilly. It is we're recording this mid December 2022. And it's it's about 11 o'clock, and it's still minus three degrees outside. So it's a bit chilly today isn't it?

Sara Kay 1:38
It is so it's the time to get your thermals out sometimes when it's like this, but also to get the laughter out. Talk about that.

Tamsin Caine 1:47
Yeah, absolutely. So you know how fascinated that I am by by Laugher Yoga, so I'd love you to introduce our audience to it. So, tell us a little bit about what it is.

Sara Kay 2:02
My company is called Serious Laughter and that's laughter in a serious worlds. And that's very appropriate, because what we do is we laugh on purpose. So if we're serious and unhappy, we can still release positive chemicals inside us, which will lift us. And within about three to five minutes do you feel a lot more happier uplifted and motivated about life. And also the stress disappears, which is fantastic. That's also immune boost. So if you're doing it in the winter, especially, or during the COVID, COVID waves, it's really good for us as a practice daily practice of class. So this is what we do laughter exercises, and the yoga is the deep breathing in between to sustain it.

Tamsin Caine 2:47
That's fantastic, though. I mean, I've experienced this a few times. And, and it, it absolutely astounds me every time that you start off, not necessarily feeling happy and cheerful. And essentially, you're making laughing sounds, which in itself, actually is really funny. And the kind of put on laughter if you like this sort of exercises actually make you laugh for real, is that everybody's experience there is that just me.

Sara Kay 3:27
Some people feel really sceptical and awkward. And it does take them more than one session to get into it. Because they're so you know, that it's going beyond the comfort zone. So yeah, so, so it depends on the person as to how willing they are and open they are to try something new. And if they haven't left for a long time, it's you know, it's actually stepping out of the, you know, the happiness, you know, into happiness again, so. So yeah, it's, it's different for every person because everybody's unique, unique on this.

Tamsin Caine 4:04
Absolutely. I guess. Maybe if you are feeling a bit sceptical and a bit like this is a very strange thing to do. Maybe doing it on your, like being at home on your own and doing it over zoom or something like that, where people aren't necessarily watching you. Would that be easier?

Sara Kay 4:26
Yes, I mean, online on Zoom, you can always put your video off if you feel awkward, and I know some people feel awkward about seeing themselves on a screen. So in fact, that can be a little bit harder sometimes than face to face. And the energy of face to face is probably nicer. Because, you know, people are bonding better together and moving together. So So yeah, I think that's that's my perspective on that one.

Tamsin Caine 4:54
Yeah, that's interesting. That's interesting. So let's, let's rewind a little bit. And how did you discover laughter yoga?

Sara Kay 5:05
So back in 2016, I had depression. And that actually was spiralling from many years before that when I went through a divorce and came out with LGBT, teenage children. And my therapist, I've taken antidepressants, my therapist, that time said, Okay, try something for your well being some kind of self care activity. How about mindfulness? And I said, that's kind of very still and boring. And I, you know, I'm a very moving person, a visual person. I said, No, I think that just made me cry. So well being day, run by the LGBT Foundation, they did all sorts of different activities, including mindfulness, I tried everything I could. And one of the things was laughter. And I was expecting somebody to just crack jokes and things like that. It's completely different to a lot of people's. So So and then there was these laughter exercises, and at the end of them, after we'd be moving around, we sat down in the circles about 50 women there, or closed our eyes. And the facilitator said, Hi, see if any laughter comes out of you. And I was like, I'm sorry, human, a chair not moving, how is laughter going to come out? But because laughter is contagious, and one person started it, and then it was like a ripple effect. And then 10 People were laughing. And by the by, you know, three, four minutes, everybody was laughing, because then no idea why, but they were all laughing. And what I realised after that was, it's a cathartic release of inner emotions and stress and anger and frustration. And that's why Yeah, that's how I got into it. And I was like, that just planted a seed. And a few months of going on the internet trying to find out about classes, I found out about one in Manchester, and that was just the light bulb moment after that, I was just, I want this in my life. This sort of lifts me and it makes me feel authentic and confident. and stress free. So it's like an instant holidays. I thought so. I went and that was it really that? You know, I just started a little club and just went from there. So yeah.

Tamsin Caine 7:31
What is I guess speaking about the history, what is the history of laughter yoga? Where does it Where does it come from? Presumably it wasn't invented at that at the well being day that you went to in Banta.

Sara Kay 7:45
Laughter Yoga has been going since 1995. So it's a long, long time. And it was branded by Dr. Madden Kataria, who's a medical doctor in India. And he started this off with just a few other people in a park. And they did start telling jokes. He was doing a bit of research for an article it was writing for my doctor magazine. So it was a little bit of an experiment to start with to see if they could just laugh without going elsewhere if they could create it themselves. But after two weeks and the group grew and grew in this park in India, and bombed by they, they decided that their jokes were absolutely awful and they wouldn't come back to the group. But Dr. Kataria said hold on a second we're going to devise something amazing. And he came back the next day and created laughter yoga with his wife, Midori, who's a yoga specialist. They created the laughter exercises with the deep yogic breathing, and then sort of clapping as well in between to increase energy levels. And that is how it started 1995 by a medical doctor, doing something for for his well being as well and to be able to write this article.

Tamsin Caine 9:10
So pretty amazing, isn't it?

Sara Kay 9:13
And a guy from America came over to India saw what was happening and said Come over here, Dr. Kataria. So we went on a little tour of America that was really popular. And then he went on a tour to all over the world spreading this laughter yoga, and then he created courses so that people were teaching it in the right way. So so that Yeah, so it's been in England since about 2000. And it's just spreading really, really rapidly because of what we've been through recently so.

Tamsin Caine 9:50
So are there other classes all over the UK, or other kind of pockets where there's quite a lot of pockets where you probably They need to go on Zoom.

Sara Kay 10:01
Yeah, that well, this is right, actually, because the UK has got so many communities hasn't it, and we haven't got enough left professionals yet. So this is the, this is what I'm trying to do this year is to train more people up so that they can take it into their communities. So yeah, so in the main in the main cities, like Manchester and London, we do have many laughter yoga professionals. But we've only got little scattering in north Wales. A little scattering in, you know, in Bristol and South Wales. One or two in Norfolk? Not many. So. Yeah. So a lot of people are going on Zoom to experience it, and then think, okay, yes, I'll train in it, or I'll go on a beginners course and learn more. So unfortunately, because of lack of professionals, it's yeah, it's a case of at the moment going on zoom a little bit more than you would normally if you're in, in a smaller town.

Tamsin Caine 11:13
Yeah, so we're trying to spread the word about laughter yoga to get more people, not only partaking, but actually paying into beer, laughter yoga professional, and from everything you've said, they don't need to be a stand up comic, to be able to be able to do they

Sara Kay 11:32
No and, and, you know, you don't have to do it full time, you could just run a club once a month or something like that. And it's a lovely thing to do to create communities together. So, so yeah, and you don't need any special qualifications other than being fairly fit, health wise. That but you know, you don't have to be muscular, you don't have to do yoga poses or anything like that. You just have to have a willingness to make a difference to yourself and other people, and be fairly, fairly fit with no recent operations and that kind of thing. So yeah, it's cardio exercise. So if you can do cardio exercise and get our breath, yes, it's enough.

Tamsin Caine 12:13
So I wondered if you might be prepared to demonstrate a couple of exercises for us today. So that the people listening can I'll I'm more than happy as you know, play along. If people listening can can see what it's all about and to to experience it if there's not experienced it before.

Sara Kay 12:35
Yeah, sure. Can we do a couple of warmups first to make sure that we

Tamsin Caine 12:38
Absolutely, let's do that. Let's do this

Sara Kay 12:41
a lot easier. Okay. So we're going to, if you put your palms, your hands to your tummy, I'm going to breathe in to your nose. So on a count of three, and then we're going to hold it for three and then out with a smile, we just do it a couple of times. Okay. So let's breathe it into our nose. Now to breathe in. 123, hold it, hold it, hold it in and out in the smile, like shoulders, relax. And again, breathe it into your nose. 123 Hold it, hold it, hold it and out with a smile. Just to activate in that are relaxing mode. And then we're going to do some hose, some hearts and some haze. So if we just say, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, twice. Let's go. Ha ha ha ha. We'll do that twice as well. Already. Three to one C is fabulous. And with your fingertips to the side of your mouth. You're just gonna stretch your cheek muscles outwards. So Right. So I've had a he, he, he started out with hee hee

Tamsin Caine 14:05
hee hee hee, hee. Hee hee.

Sara Kay 14:15
Just really showed this a little bit, but it's backwards. Listen up. Okay. Okay, we're gonna have a love to shower. That's all right, Tamsin.

Tamsin Caine 14:23
Oh, yeah, absolutely. Amazing.

Sara Kay 14:27
Okay, so you're going to, and a lot of this is on the imagination. All right, so you don't need anything special in your hands. So we're going to get one hand and pretend to squeeze a bottle into the palm of the other hand. So if you're right handed, you're squeezing with your right hand and the palms. And then we're going to just say wash wash washes. We're squeezing the shower bottle. Okay. And then rub your hands together. And then we're just going to do hohoho Oh Ha ha ha hee hee as we start robbing the laughter shower cream into us. All right, okay. Okay, wash, wash, wash, wash, wash, wash, wash, wash, wash, the palms of hands really well together. And then hope Whoa, whoa, ha ha ha with the sounds you have the makings.

Tamsin Caine 15:37
Listening to this on the podcast, you have to watch it on the YouTube download because it will make you laugh. That's amazing. I absolutely, absolutely love that.

Sara Kay 15:52
Need to take a couple of deep breaths if that's okay. Yeah. Cool. All right. So palms, the hands, forwards, and we're going to breathe into the chest, clenched fists to the chest, breathe in the nose, and then release it with a smile. Breathe it in. Okay, should we do another one? Or do you want to wait?

Tamsin Caine 16:16
Oh, yeah,let's do another one. Right.

Sara Kay 16:19
So we're gonna do the milkshake, which is a very traditional. So you're going to hold an imaginary glass in the right hand and the same in your left hand one is going to feel imagine lots of fruits in one hand, and then some sparkly soda water in the other. And we're going to say three days as we move the glasses from side to side. So it goes like this. Yay, II. Yeah. And then we're going to mix it from shoulder to shoulder like this. Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. And then we're going to drink it cup your hands and then drink it with the laugh. Okay, can we do it together?

Tamsin Caine 17:02
This is very complicated. I'll try

Sara Kay 17:07
this ready even at say three yays from side to side.

Tamsin Caine 17:10
Yay. Yay.

Sara Kay 17:17
Hands, put them to one shoulder. Okay, say hose as we move the foot to the other shoulder hohoho got your hands and drink with a lot. And then they're clapping goes like this. It goes very good. Very good. Yay. Let's do a couple of times. Tamsin a very good, very,

Tamsin Caine 17:39
very good.

Sara Kay 17:42
Very good. Very good. Very good. Yeah. But take a couple of breaths in this fabulous

Tamsin Caine 17:59
oh it is amazing how much lighter and brighter you feel just from you know, those couple of short exercises it but it I hope you guys listening at home have been tuning in with us because hopefully you'll be feeling that it considerably lighter and brighter as well. Oh my gosh, yes. look awful. Looking up a laughter yoga practitioners is the starting point. And to get in into this one. I mean, that it's, I guess it It differs for everybody. But how often? How often would you say to do laughter yoga as a practice that you would do daily? Is it weekly thing? Is that a monthly thing? What what's the what's the normal thing?

Sara Kay 18:53
Well, we recommend doing it for five to 10 minutes in your morning routine. So as you are having your shower Do you to exercise so yeah, that's it's really important because the benefits stay inside the fruit to 24 hours. So if you're doing it as part of your morning routine or evening routine, if you need to do with your partner, or friends or loved a buddy, your children can can do it as well. So it really just bond people and it's the health benefits are amazing. So the less stress the less illness you'll get. So yeah every day and to keep to keep your mind fresh and get your connection. Try and go to an online class or once a week once a month to keep your exercises in your mind fresh and new social connection really special.

Tamsin Caine 19:48
So yeah, that's brilliant and you have the most fabulous journal. For your laughter yoda and I want you to talk about this, because I have it. And I'm working my way through it and it absolutely brilliant. Granted, I haven't managed to make it all the way through yet because things like keeps getting in the way, but I keep restarting it every month. And I am determined, maybe January's my money to go all the way through. And tell us tell us about your journal.

Sara Kay 20:21
So I was like looking to offer something where people who couldn't access, zoom, you know, wanted something very flexible, could go on a course, and the journal came about through that. So what it is is a 31 day, practice laughter yoga practice, but with lots of self care and kind of mind clearing activities. So that you can watch a laughter yoga exercise every single day with a short form link. Soon, there'll be a QR link as well. Sand. And so by the end of 31 days of watching the left exercises, analysing how you feel before and after doing all the self care little things like doodles, just really simple things, morning and evening routines as well. So that you can put it as a habit and 31 days should be able to put laughter yoga as a habit. And work the time or so from one exercise to two three perhaps and and finding somebody who you can do them with will be really nice, too. So the the fact that you're doing a journal doesn't mean to say that it's only you, you could share those exercises with other people. So that's what it is. It's a beautiful little yellow book. I've done it with full colour and some quotes and things like that. And lots of videos of of me encouraging you motivating you to do this really good practice. So yeah, like you keep starting it, that, of course, January will be a perfect time to start this.

Tamsin Caine 22:13
Yeah, absolutely.

Sara Kay 22:16
So it's called joyful laughter journal. If you put that in on Amazon, you'll see straightaway.

Tamsin Caine 22:21
And then the thing that I was most amazed about by it was that I got the beautiful book, and I was like, Oh, this is really lovely. And I opened it up and it and it said, Oh, go on this link. And then and it, you are guiding me through everything. And there's a beautiful video every day. And it's not. It's not onerous. It's not. It's just a couple of minutes every day, and then it builds up. But it's it's so lovely. And get your amazing smiling face and your happy colourful dungarees every day and it's so lovely. And I think that was a thing. I thought it was just going to be a journal and perhaps on pictures. And actually, that the whole experience is, is really quite something. It was. Yeah, it was it was way more than I had expected when I when I ordered it. So yeah, definitely, definitely want to start in in January.

Sara Kay 23:22
It is like a video course. And I also offer it so I deliver it by email as well. So on the first of each month, you can just email you can email me before the first of each month and go on. If you bought it go on to the subscribe to that video course. So it can be delivered to you rather than you've put in the LinkedIn so that that's sometimes an easier option for people to be to have the little nudge to do that practice. Yeah, absolutely. Watch the Yeah, watch the fun, fun videos. So

Tamsin Caine 24:03
yeah, definitely. This is going to be released on the New Year's Eve. So if you did want to start doing a daily yoga practice after yoga practice, you could presumably subscribe for January by dropping an email we'll put a note link in the show notes if that's alright. And then you can you can get cracking with this straightaway for the new year.

Sara Kay 24:36
Absolutely. up to midnight on the first you'd be able to join Yeah, no problem no problem. And then to get in on the on the first of February if you if you've missed that. Yeah, very, very happy to help anybody. And if you've if you buy the journal, the joyful laughter journal wouldn't say on the fifth, you could in fact, start on the already and do the first six days. And then just use that.

Tamsin Caine 25:09
Yeah, yeah, of course. Yeah, absolutely. Fantastic. And I know you always have absolutely loads of things going on. And the there's always there are a lot of things in the laughter yoga diary, and things that you're up to in January, what, what's going on?

Sara Kay 25:30
What's going on? Well, on the fourth of January and doing a brand new project to bring communities together, which is called Make friends with laughter. So as laughter is an icebreaker and relaxes people and gives them confidence. I've realised that it's really hard to make friends when you're over 30. And perhaps your children get on the bus to school, or you don't have children. And it's really hard. You're just working all the time and not making making any new friends. So make friends with laughter, which is running in sale from the fourth of January, and hopefully going to be a monthly, get together or bimonthly get together. For people to make new friends, do some times and do some speed friendships with good conversations, which are

Tamsin Caine 26:26
I'm looking forward to that.

Sara Kay 26:30
community space, that's an it's an amazing space, beautiful space. So looking forward to lots of different people, and learning from different people about what their life's like, and that kind of thing would be really good. And on the on the fourth of January on the 22nd. There is the sale after club. And I'm doing lots of different things on the 16th of January because it's Blue Monday.

Tamsin Caine 26:59
Blue Monday, God what happens on Blue Monday,

Sara Kay 27:05
and I think I think it's time for Bollywood love to dance on that evening. I feel that that's the right time to do Bollywood like to dance. Blue Monday evening. So we'll be doing that. And very, very excited about on Blue Monday. It's always a really good week. Really good week. And it shouldn't shouldn't be blue at all. No day should be blue, when you've got some laughter in your life and stuff. But it's it can be a really difficult time. Because it's just after Christmas, isn't it? Yeah. And you know, we can it can be really, you know, there's nothing to look forward to. So that's where why do I need laughter yoga a little bit more? And connect with people a little bit more?

Tamsin Caine 27:55
Yeah. Oh, well, sounds like there's a lot to look forward to in the there is laughter Well, we will, we'll put the links in the show notes, if that's all right, and then people want to sign up, then they'll, they'll be able to find where to go. And also

Sara Kay 28:15
in January, at some point in January, we'll be launching the Patreon which is not a course at all. It's purely for lottery exercises and a support network to come together. So it's it's very reasonable community membership, that I'll be running so that you can get some laughter exercises, put into the bait Patreon and lots of self care tips as well. From me, and meetup, so, yeah, it's gonna be a really good space. And that'll be probably mid January.

Tamsin Caine 28:55
Epic, that sounds great as well. So if our listeners heard everything today and thought, I need to get in touch with this amazing lady and her fabulous business and get some laughter in my life. How can people get in touch with you?

Sara Kay 29:13
So the websites Serious Serious and my email is happy at serious Then all the socials are at serious laugh UK. So if you ever forget anything like that, they just put laughter yoga Manchester and you will see or serious laughter. Manchester and you will see everything on Google. You'll be you'll be directed completely. The website is the best place to get serious laughter.

Tamsin Caine 29:52
And well, we will again put that in the show notes. So if you've not got a pen, just have a look at the show notes afterwards and you'll They'll click on the link. So get in touch with Sarah and get yourself laughing along as well. Bear it's been fantastic BP thank you so much for joining me today. It's been brilliant. Thank you all for listening and watching along and we will see you in the next episode very soon.

Sara Kay 30:19
Yeah, please do

Tamsin Caine 30:26
I hope you enjoyed the episode of the Smart Divorce podcast. If you would like to get in touch please have a look in the show notes for our details or go onto the website Also if you are listening on Apple podcasts or on Spotify and you wouldn't mind leaving us a lovely five star review. That would be fantastic. I know that lots of our listeners are finding this is incredibly helpful in their journey through separation divorce and dissolving a civil partnership. Also, if you would like some further support, we do have Facebook group now. It's called 'Separation divorce and dissolution UK.' Please do go on to Facebook, search up the group and we'd be delighted to have you join us. The one thing I would say is do please answer their membership questions. Okay, have a great day and take care!

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