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Experts: Benefits of laughing yoga are no joke - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Experts: Benefits of laughing yoga are no joke

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LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. -

This yoga class begins with a few simple moves, and then the laughing begins! "Laughter Yoga" on California's Laguna Beach guides students through different exercises designed to make them laugh.

"Some people have their favorites," instructor Jeffrey Briar said.

Briar first brought laughter into his classes 12 years ago. While he admits the practice can look a bit unusual, he thinks the health benefits are no joke.

"I used to be sick about three weeks a year. Now, I'll go years with no cold, no flu," Briar said.

Dr. Lee Berk of Loma Linda University says the benefits of laughing are measurable.

"We're starting to understand laughter much better than we ever did," Berk said.

With tests, Berk tracks the effects of laughter on the brain and body. Research shows laughing lowers blood pressure and reduces the level of stress hormones. It also helps boost the immune system.

"Increases in antibodies that look for germs and bacteria and so forth," Berk said.

Pediatrician Yoland Quam has been a laughing yoga student for two years and says the class has changed her life.

"I feel rejuvenated, I feel alive, I feel happy just be free, laugh!" she said.

Laughing Yoga was first developed by a doctor in India. It's based on the concept that the body can't tell the difference between real laughter and fake laughter, so the physical and mental benefits are the same.

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