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Laughter is 'exercise for the soul'
If you've ever enjoyed a good belly laugh shared with friends, you know the wonderful, nearly euphoric, stress relief it provides.
This expression of joyful release is the basis for Laughter Yoga, a new program offered by the New Horizons 60 and older group at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) of Greater Columbus.
Laughter Yoga is a unique exercise routine that combines group laughter exercises with yogic breathing, known as Pranayama. Proponents of Laughter Yoga, first developed in India in 1995 by Dr. Madan Kataria, say that it promotes complete body-mind wellness, reduces stress, depression and anger, and helps combat illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis and cancer.
"During the class, laughter is simulated as a body exercise in a group; however, with eye contact and childlike playfulness, it soon turns into real and contagious laughter," said Debbie Vinocur, New Horizons director.
"The concept of Laughter Yoga is based on a scientific fact that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter. Anyone can laugh for no reason, without relying on humor, jokes or comedy, and one achieves the same physiological and psychological benefits either way. Laughter Yoga is just the thing to chase away the 'Winter Blahs'," she said.
Alvin Stone of Columbus, who participated in the first Laughter Yoga class on Dec. 10, acknowledged that "laughter is good for the soul."
Laughter Yoga at the JCC is offered free of charge every second Wednesday of the month, from 11:15 to 11:45 a.m., through June 2009. The next class is scheduled for Jan. 14. For more information, contact Vinocur at (614) 559-6214 or visit the JCC Web site at www.columbusjcc.org.
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