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Laughing for good health

BY CARALISE MOORE
Last updated 05:00 14/07/2009
Orewa Laughter Club

THE BEST MEDICINE: The Orewa Laughter Club has already got people chuckling thanks to instructor Shaguntala Sangarapillay, second from right.

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Here’s a group that will get you laughing.

Winter blues, the recession and other woes don’t get Orewa Laughter Club members down. They literally take up the saying laughter is the best medicine.

The club was started in March by Arkles Bay resident Shaguntala Sangarapillay, who recently moved from Browns Bay.

Shaguntala first experienced laughter yoga in May 2007 at a Ponsonby Laughter Club.

"The Ponsonby club had a training session one weekend, so I did it for a laugh not realising what I was going to do next."

The East Coast Bays Community Centre asked Shaguntala to start a laughter club in its facility.

"For months it was only me and one other woman, then slowly word of mouth built up.

"I ran a weekend workshop for a local business retreat and they loved it. The club grew."

Shaguntala moved to Whangaparaoa and last year left the club, averaging 20 members a weekend, in the hands of four younger laughter yoga trainers.

"Laughter yoga is basically exercises to stimulate your laughter," she says.

"The guy who came up with it was Indian, he was really into yoga. So we use some stretches from yoga poses with laughter attached to it.

"We learn how to laugh again. It’s a space where you can be silly and childlike. The funny thing is there’s no sense of humour necessary."

Some exercises include re-enactments of everyday activities, like talking on a cell phone or washing your hair, others get participants to try things like the moonwalk and dancing to get them laughing.

"Laughter produces hormones, although your mind knows that it’s not real humour, your body doesn’t know.

"It exercises your diaphragm, abdominal muscles and upper chest. The best part of it is you forget your pain and enjoy yourself for 45 minutes."

Shaguntala says it’s interesting how people react to the laughter.

"People allow you to be angry in public and it’s accepted. But if you laugh they think you need to go to the crazy house."

Sessions are held every second and fourth Wednesday of the month from 10.30am to 11.15am in the small hall at the Orewa Community Hall, 368 Hibiscus Coast Highway.

"We have coffee afterwards and try and sort out Orewa’s parking problems for another laugh," says Shaguntala.

Everyone is welcome. Entry is a gold coin donation. Contact Shaguntala on 424-3590 or 0272-611-140, email laughterorewa@gmail.com or visit www.laughteryoga.org.nz.

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