Health and Fitness

Shake it off at laughter yoga

By Jesse Moya
jmoya@taosnews.com
Posted 2/25/20

When life gets us down, David and Meredith Vaughn are teaching community members to laugh it out.

Laughter yoga is a rising trend that has made its way to Taos and the Vaughns have all their classes leaving in hysterics.

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Health and Fitness

Shake it off at laughter yoga

Posted

When life gets us down, David and Meredith Vaughn are teaching community members to laugh it out.

Laughter yoga is a rising trend that has made its way to Taos and the Vaughns have all their classes leaving in hysterics.

"It's liberating just to be able to laugh together in a group for no reason at all," Meredith said.

The two teach laughter yoga once a week at the First Presbyterian Church, 215 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. This is not an ordinary yoga class.

Laughter yoga begins with everyone gathering in a circle and giving themselves a "laughter name," which the group then chuckles about.

Then, after some brief breathing exercises, the laughter begins in earnest. Participants take part in various laughing exercises designed to get them laughing from deep inside their stomach muscles.

Once one person starts laughing, the entire room fills with laughter and the snowball keeps rolling. From activities such as "window laughing," in which participants walk up to one another, open their arms and start laughing, to "monster walk," where they take a step, laugh and repeat, the session has plenty to giggle over.

"I just feel lighter," said Gess Healey, a recent laughter yoga participant.

The exercises continue one after another and the laughter continues to flow as the session moves on.

Participants ride the high wave of laughter until the last few minutes of the session, when Dave and Meredith slow it down and incorporate some yoga poses to relax and tie the whole thing together.

But where did this phenomenon come from?

For nearly 20 years, Dr. Maden Kataria, from Mumbai, India, has been helping communities laugh through his new idea of laughter yoga. Known as the "guru of giggling," Kataria is the founder of the laughter yoga concept and has started thousands of clubs in nearly 60 countries.

"Why have I been doing this for the past 14 years?" Meredith asked the group. "Because it gives me a positivity fix for the week."

According to Meredith and Dave, laughing and oxygen intake from laughing can help drastically with elevating a person's mood, which can directly impact their outlook on the world.

Some of the exercises are directly designed to give participants a chance to really get their giggle box going and to pull a laugh from deep inside them.

"I come to get a good laugh and it really makes me breathe better," said participant Victoria Grey.

Meredith and David have been hosting their laughter yoga classes in Colorado since 2006 and recently moved their efforts to Taos. According to Meredith, the club they established in Colorado is still going and has grown to around 30 members.

Just before noon on every Monday at the Presbyterian Church, the yogis gather and get ready for class.

Each class is free and open to whoever is interested in joining the club. There are no rules, no put-downs and no negative thoughts allowed in laughter yoga class.

"No need to reserve a spot, you can just drop in," David said.

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