TYLER (KYTX) - There's a new global fitness craze that has some people laughing their way to better emotional and physical health. It's called "laughter yoga." Some East Texas breast cancer survivors tried it out for the first time.
If the sounds of their laughter and the smiles on their faces are any indication. The survivors at the breast cancer retreat loved it.
It's not the typical "yoga" you might think of, no downward facing dog or warrior poses, just breathing, clapping and a lot of laughing.
"Take a deep breath through your nose and go-- hahahahaha," says Shakha Stephen, a Laughter Yoga instructor.
We've always heard laughter is contagious. "You think, how can fake laughter turn into real laughter, but it really does," laughs Cindy Ardill. "I don't know I can't explain it."
Cindy Ardill wasn't sure what to expect from laughter yoga, but this 14 year cancer survivor thought it had potential for her and her friends at the Pink Ribbon Getaway at ETMC.
"I think you just kind of feel like the weight on your shoulder goes away," says Cindy.
Shakha Stephen, who teaches Laughter Yoga and works as a chaplain at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center says laughter, even when it's fake, but intentional will slowly shift into real, contagious, spontaneous laughter.
"Laughter helps you open yourself up, lets their blood flow, lets their breath flow, lets their energy flow. They begin to feel a natural type of high," says Shakha Stephen.
People who take part in laughter yoga also feel their body at work. Research finds a good 10 minute belly laugh equals 20 minutes on a rowing machine. The creator of Laughter Yoga, who's also a medical doctor, says the aerobic exercise brings more oxygen into the blood system reducing stress and strengthening the immune system.
"Cancer patients are dealing with a compromised immune system. Also, the laughter is emotionally cathartic. A lady came to my class. She was a breast cancer survivor and when it was over, it was a 30 minute session, I said how do you feel? She said, 'my whole body is laughing right now.'"
6 year breast cancer survivor, Devoria Ates wishes she would have know about laughter yoga during her darkest hours. I was kind of down when I got here and when he started doing all of this laughter and I am still overjoyed," Devoria Ates giggled.
Laughter may not silence cancer, but it certainly made these ladies feel better mind, body and spirit.
There are only a few rules of laughter yoga-- no new pain, fake it until you make it, keep eye contact with others, no talking and be enthusiastic.
For more information on Laughter Yoga, CLICK HERE.