Laugh your stress and worries away with "laughter yoga"

By: Jenny You Email
By: Jenny You Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Whether it's from dealing with your difficult boss, a never-ending mortgage or just taking care of your kids, we all get stressed out.

Now, experts say there's a cure and it's as simple as laughing.

It's called "laugher yoga" and students at Immaculate Conception in Eau Claire had the chance to try it out during their after school fitness program called COR.

"My friends tell really fun jokes to each other and we write really funny books, comic books," says 3rd grader Henry Axelrod.

5th grader Elena Bourget says she was looking forward to doing laughter yoga.

"It's just a great way to express your emotions," says Bourget.

But Dr. Jodi Ritsch says you don't need a reason to laugh in order to laugh.

"Unfortunately as adults we don't really do that very much. Kids are better. Toddlers are the best. We can learn the most from them. They're good laughers," says Ritsch who is a family medicine physician at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire and also a certified laughter yoga teacher.

She also says not to let the word "yoga" in laughter yoga scare you away. It's nothing like bikram or shtanga, just to name a couple of popular types of yoga.

Students had the chance to laugh, jump around, make animal noises and dance during laughter yoga.

"We just do silly things and laugh and we do that for about 15 to 20 minutes. Then we deep breathe," says Ritsch.

At the end, Ritsch says students took part in the last stage of yoga where they feel the chemicals released by their body from the exercise.

Experts say bodies cannot tell the difference between real laughing and fake laughing, so it'll always produce that chemical of joy.

The exercise ultimately boosts the immune system, can lower blood pressure, takes away stress and even help burn some calories.

"I see a lot of people who are under stress and if all of us could spend some good quality time laughing. And it's really hard to stay angry at people when you're laughing with them so its really a world peace movement, laughter yoga," says Ritsch.

According to Laughter Yoga International, the concept is the brainchild of Dr. Madan Kataria, a physician from Mumbai, India. He took a group of five people toa park in 1995 and launched the first "Laughter Club."

It's now a worldwide phenomenon with more than 6000 Social Laughter Clubs in around 60 countries.

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