The Edmond Sun

October 20, 2010

Group demonstrates ‘laughter yoga’ in Edmond

Organizers: It is not part of religious meditative practices

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — If you entered the Edmond Library Wednesday afternoon and heard all the laughing, you may have wondered what was so darn funny.

A metro woman is gauging interest in Edmond for Laughter Yoga. The exercise routine is gaining in popularity around the world, and it was the topic of a demonstration Wednesday afternoon at the library.

Ellen Mercer, a certified Laughter Yoga leader, said the goal of Laughter Yoga is to bring good health, joy and world peace through laughter.

“It’s a big movement,” she said. “People are laughing for no reason everywhere you look. It may not be for everyone, but it can grow on you.”

Dr. Madan Kataria, a physician form Mumbai, India, launched the first Laughter Club at a park in 1995. Today there are more than 6,000 Social Laughter Clubs in about 60 countries, according to India-based Laughter Yoga International.

Laughter Yoga combines unconditional laughter with Yogic breathing, Mercer said. Laughter is simulated as a body exercise in a group; with eye contact and childlike playfulness it soon turns into real and contagious laughter.

Mercer said the concept is based on a scientific fact that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter — one gets the same physiological and psychological benefits.

For example, laughter along with an active sense of humor may help protect you against a heart attack, according to a recent study by cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.

People with heart disease responded less humorously to everyday life situations, generally laughed less, even in positive situations, and they displayed more anger and hostility, the researchers found.

Mercer said laughter exercises appealed to her natural sense of playfulness and a desire to help others achieve a healthier life with less stress, more joy and lifestyle choices that promote wellness.

John Mercer, Ellen’s husband, a Laughter Yoga leader, said he enjoys sharing time with people.

“Laughter is a great exercise, and watching other people get fulfillment out of exercise is a blessing to me,” he said.

Laughter Clubs are free for all and run by volunteers trained as Laughter Yoga teachers and leaders. They are non-political, non-religious and nonprofit, run by India-based Laughter Clubs International.

Yoga is associated with meditative practices in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

Ellen Mercer said Laughter Yoga has been demonstrated in different settings and with varied organizations, and she is available to do workshops, retreats, sessions, seminars, keynotes and certified Laughter Yoga leader training.

For more information about local Laughter Yoga clubs, including Laughter Yoga in Edmond, call Ellen at 947-2653 or e-mail her at Ellen4JP@cox.net. For more information about Laughter Yoga, visit www.laughteryoga.org, Web site of Laughter Yoga International.



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