Local Woman Teaches Laughter Yoga

With it being in the middle of the dark, cold winter, it can be hard to be optimistic.

Research shows that we're more likely to be depressed at this time of year because of the lack of sunlight exposure.

Well one local woman thinks laughing is the remedy: welcome to Laughter yoga.

It's a group that meets once a week at the Aging and Disability Center in Wausau to do one thing: laugh.

"It sort of makes you more comfortable with who you are," Laughter Yoga instructor Bernie Cortsen said. "What we do in here stays in here. We feel happier."

Cortsen leads the group every week after she became certified in laughter yoga when taking a workshop at the UW-Stevens Point Wellness Center.

She said it only takes 10 minutes of laughter to make you feel better.

"That's the beauty of it, we don't know," Cortsen said. "It doesn't matter what we're laughing at, but we don't know why we're laughing."

Cortsen isn't just teaching off of purely good feelings.

Laughter yoga was created by an Indian physician in 1995, it combines sustained laughter with elements of yogic breathing.

While some people use it regularly to combat stressful times, others are trying it for the first time.

"It's a new experience," Shahzoda Isoqoea, an exchange student from TAJIKISTAN said. "I liked it."

Isoquoea and Turkmenistan Exchange student Tatyana Malyhina are in United States for an exchange student program studying at tech schools in town.

"I learn to smile the more in the US," Malyhina said. "This is one thing that will be with me my whole life."

Both the girls said back home life is more serious, and that laughter yoga is different , but leaves them feeling good.

"If you laugh to life, life will laugh back," Isoqoea said. "If you are happy, you feel good."

Corsten said laughter is good for us, and that it triggers endorphin release in a body that makes a human feel happier.

"It acts like a pain killer," Cortsen said. "People may come in with a pain and go out with no pain. I think that's powerful."

No matter where you practice laughter yoga, either across the world or here in Wausau, or even if you're from another country like these girls, the message a smile or laughter sends is universal.

"The world is very serious place to live in," Corsten said. "We have to find some humor in our everyday life, especially joy."

Contact Bernie Cortsen if you're interested in Laughter Yoga: 715-845-5124

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