Laughter Yoga Breaks Cultural Barriers

Cate Smith
Cate Smith
Yusuke Kawanishi
Yusuke Kawanishi
Jong Hoon Chae
Jong Hoon Chae

By Leland Kim

HONOLULU (KHNL) - It's often said, laughter is the best medicine.

And for one group of international students, it's also a way to break through cultural barriers, and connect.

Laughter yoga has been around for about a decade, but its popularity has recently grown.

It is taught in more than 50 countries and this phenomenon has now reached our island shores.

Call it silly.  Call it unique.

But whatever you call it, this innovative take on yoga is contagious.

"It's so much fun. Initially it seems kind of silly but by the end, it's just amazing," said student Cate Smith.

Students at Hawaii Tokai International College speak many different languages, but through laughter yoga, they all share a common language.

"This is pretty unique, because nobody talked about this before," said Jong Hoon Chae, an international student.

The school is using it to build cultural bridges, while encouraging students to let loose and have fun.

"Laughter is just something that's universal, and it doesn't matter where you're from, you understand that," said Dr. Douglas Fuqua, the college's vice chancellor.

As they come out of their shells, it's a way to expand their horizons.

"I'm very shy so difficult to open my mind, but when I can do it, it's very interesting and fun," said another international student, Yusuke Kawanishi.

Some even want to bring laughter yoga back home.

"It's pretty fun. I want to let Koreans know about this Laughter Yoga and let them know how good it is," Chae told us.

In the end, it's about sharing a part of themselves.

"People all laugh in the same language," said Smith. "It's a lot of fun."

There are more than 5,000 laughter yoga clubs throughout the world, including one here in Hawaii.