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Schorman Center prescribes laughter with grief program

Times Observer photo by Lorri Drumm The Schorman Center offered a free Laugh-A-Yoga session as part of the center’s Grief Yoga program. Laugh-A-Yoga was led by Jane Fischer, Creative Change facilitator. Fischer is pictured leading the session on Thursday.

Who hasn’t heard someone laughing and felt like joining in even if you have no idea what’s so funny? Laughter is contagious.

Anyone who heard the chortling, chuckling, guffawing and giggling coming from a room in the First Lutheran Church in Warren on Thursday evening would suspect an epidemic.

The Schorman Center offered a free Laugh-A-Yoga session as part of the center’s Grief Yoga program. Laugh-A-Yoga was led by Jane Fischer, Creative Change facilitator.

For those familiar with yoga, there was no tree pose, cat or downward dog. Participants were, however, required to swear to “be silly.”

As the group of about 12 got comfortable either in chairs or on yoga mats, Fischer guided the group through a series of breathing exercises with the exhale simulating a laugh. She explained that laughter decreases stress hormones.

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

The session progressed with participants mimicking each others laughs, coming up with their own unique style of laugh and even a “Haha Chacha.”

Fischer said she has led Laugh-a-Yoga sessions for many different groups. “I’ve worked with the Alzheimers Association and all sorts of groups, businesses and organizations,” she said.

One of the advantages of Laugh-A-Yoga is that anyone can participate. “Even someone who can’t respond can benefit from hearing the laughter,” she said.

Fischer told the group she has been a health educator for about 20 years. About 10 years ago, she and some friends started an improv group. That inspired her to infuse laughter into her work. “I recognized the value of laughter,” she said. “I wish we lived in a world where more people were comfortable with laughter.”

As the session came to an end, Fischer encouraged everyone to continue laughter exercises on their own as a “way to release tension.”

“All you need is a willingness to laugh,” she said.

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