The Laughing Yoga Club in The Villages believes achieving good health and a positive attitude is something to laugh at.
I’m known for a lot of things. I’m known for being quiet until you get to know me, having a unique name that’s hard to forget, and being too sarcastic for my own good. I’m also known for having a pretty distinct laugh. It’s a kind of high-pitched, obnoxious cackle, and I use it often and at the most inappropriate times.
Luckily for me during our interview, I fit right in with Ginger and Pona Das, two Villagers who love to “LOL” as much as I do. They are also the founders of The Villages’ Laughing Yoga Club, a group that promotes laughter as the best medicine—literally.
“Laughing releases endorphins that help with pain, stress, and depression,” says Ginger. “It also helps expel dead air so you can get more oxygen.”
The idea to form the club happened five years ago when Pona went to India to visit family. His sister went to temple every day with a crowd of people following her. Soon, he had to ask what was going on.
“She said they were having a laughing club. I was floored. Everyone was having such a good time and people became friendlier with each other,” he said. “So I came home and talked to my wife about it and we started studying and practicing.”
Dr. Madan Kataria, a medical doctor from India, developed laughing yoga, or laughter yoga. The concept is based on scientific evidence that the body benefits physiologically and psychologically from laughter, whether it is real or fake. Both proponents of self-healing, Pona and Ginger laud the health benefits of laughter. Ginger said laughter helped her cope with recent health issues and helped Pona rebound quickly when he suffered a stroke two years ago.
In addition to the physical benefits of laughter, Ginger explains that laughter is great for combating negativity. The couple believes in encouraging positivity. Even when they argue, which is rare, they try to diffuse the situation with laughter and lightheartedness.
Their infectious positivity may be the reason why since 2012, the Laughing Yoga Club has grown to more than 40 members. Many are physically challenged, explains Ginger, so they tend to do stretches and other low-impact exercises while sitting. However, the main idea is no matter what they do they must laugh and maintain their fits of laughter for 20 minutes.
To keep the giggles rolling, Ginger, Pona, and other members use jokes, funny skits, and various laughing exercises. By the end of the 20 minutes, everyone is exhausted but happier than when they came in. Even when the meeting is finished, Ginger says they urge everyone to continue laughing daily.
“Pona and I laugh every day at home. We don’t wait for class,” she says and smiles. “It’s been great because this club allowed us to meet new people and make new friends. We’re at a time in our life where every day is a blessing and laughing helps us get through each day.”
WANT TO JOIN?
The Laughing Yoga Club meets at 4 p.m., the fourth Saturday of each month at the Hibiscus Recreation Center. For more information, call 352.674.9212 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.