All a laughing matter
by Lisa A. Fraser
Dec 28, 2010 | 1047 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ever had one of those moments where you bursted out in spontaneous laughter for no reason, and you might have felt a bit weird because the person or people next to you couldn't understand your sudden bout of joy?

Whether that happens very often or not, there is now a space for lovers of laughter and for those brave enough to let loose and laugh for no reason at all.

The Genesis Tree of Life Yoga and Wellness Center at 102-06 Metropolitan Avenue in Forest Hills has formed a Laughter Yoga group that will meet every Wednesday from 8 to 8:30 p.m. to share a few good laughs and form connections as the weeks go on.

The group was started after instructor and center founder and director, Rene David Alkalay, recently took a workshop in Laughter Yoga. Alkalay then decided to create a group based on the same concept a the Tree of Life.

The idea originally stemmed from an Indian doctor named Madan Kataria, the founder of Laughter Yoga International. He started Laughter Yoga in Mumbai, India, as a way of healing and eliminating negativity and stress.

Laughter Yoga is a light exercise routine that uses breathing to heal. It combines unconditional laughter with Yogic Breathing, also known as Pranayama. Using this technique, anyone can laugh for no reason, without depending on humor or jokes.

According to Kataria's website, the concept of Laughter Yoga is based on a scientific fact that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter. One gets the same physiological and psychological benefits.

“It's a great way of healing, because individuals breathe and take in oxygen,” said Alkalay. “It's emotional and physical at the same time.”

The Tree of Life Laughter Yoga club is a community where all are welcome. It is non-religious, non-political and non-competitive. And one need not have a sense of humor to laugh; it can be programmed into the body to bring about transformation.

The larger aim of Kataria's practice is to promote world peace through laughter. Currently, there are over 5,000 laughter clubs worldwide.

“Some people find it hard in the beginning and some find it easy to laugh for no reason,” Alkalay said.

The center will see how many people can laugh for no good reason on Wednesday, January 5, when the first Laughter Yoga club meeting is held.

They offer five reasons why one should attend:

• Laughter strengthens the immune system and helps maintain good health.

• Laughter is anti-aging. It increases blood supply to the face, nourishing the skin and making it glow.

• Laughter is an aerobic exercise equivalent to any other standard aerobic exercise.

• Laughter Yoga makes us more creative and imaginative. It improves our sense of humor.

• Laughter helps control high blood pressure by reducing the release of stress-related hormones.

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