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Fri Feb 22, 2013, 09:34 AM

San Diegans Make ‘Em Laugh With Laughter Yoga Practice



http://www.kpbs.org/news/2013/feb/19/san-diegans-make-em-laugh-laughter-yoga-practice/

San Diegans Make ‘Em Laugh With Laughter Yoga Practice

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

By Claire Trageser

A group of people are gathered on a Saturday morning in Balboa Park to laugh hysterically. But there's no comedy show in town, no knock knock joke convention and no mind-altering substances have been imbibed.

Instead, these people are practicing what they call Laughter Yoga. The exercise has very little traditional yoga and a lot of laughing, but the participants don’t seem to mind. They take pretend laughter pills, tell jokes in gibberish, howl at each other and lie on a tarp on the ground, all to encourage themselves—and each other—to laugh.

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Believe it or not, Coleman is a lawyer. But he also leads laughter yoga classes and started a nonprofit called Laughter Matters to bring laughter exercises to the elderly, homeless and people with mental illness and drug and alcohol problems. Whatever your problem, Coleman says laughing can help.

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Laughter yoga was first started in 1995 by Madan Kataria, a doctor in India (or "The Guru of Giggling," as he's now known). Kataria was convinced of the medical benefits of laughter, so he started a laughter club. A small group of people gathered in a park, told jokes and laughed. Problem is, the jokes quickly became mean or vulgar.

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Now San Diego has one of the biggest laughter yoga communities in the country. Coleman’s nonprofit has trained 80 people who lead hundreds of classes.

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