Monday, May 23, 2011


I recently gave an interview to the award-winning radio program, Kids These Days, based in Anchorage, Alaska. It is below and at this link.

After a serious show about caregiver stress, we'd thought we'd wrap last week's topic with a light and happy way for families to relieve stress: Laughter Yoga! Meet Laura Gentry AKA "Laughing Laura" - She's a bright light in the world and we're happy to introduce her to the KTD! crowd because her laughter yoga and music CD's and DVD's are so much fun.

Laura directs the Iowa School of Laughter Yoga. She is a Laughter Yoga Master Trainer and has been named a Laughter Ambassador by Laughter Club International. Laura and her husband are the producers of a number of educational resources including the film “Laughter Friends: A Laughter Yoga Workout for Kids,” which has been recommended by the American Library Association and sent to US miltary bases around the world to support healthy families a part of Operation Military Kid. She has led laughter yoga around the US and in 3 foreign countries (so far). Also known as the Reverend Gentry, she is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. We interviewed her last week:

Kids These Days!: Laura, what is laughter yoga and how did you become "Laughing Laura"?

Laura Gentry: Laughter yoga is a simple method of laughing and doing deep yoga breathing. It is used throughout the world by people who seek to enhance the health of their mind, body and spirit.

I became Laughing Laura almost 5 years ago by taking a two day class to become a certified laughter yoga leader. I loved it so much that I went on to become a teacher of the method and produce laughter yoga resources. My first such resource, was a film for children. Just for fun, I called myself "Laughing Laura" and the name has really stuck!

KTD!: What are some of the benefits of laughter yoga; why do you find that people practice it?

LG: Laughter yoga has many benefits! Here are some things it does:
• Improves overall sense of well being
• Boosts happiness
• Strengthens and balances the immune system
• Releases endorphins to naturally relieve pain
• Decreases the level of stress hormone
• Lowers blood pressure
• Nurtures creativity
• Reduces risk of heart disease
• Floods the body with a natural "happy hormone"
• Helps manage and overcome depression
• Deepens inner peace
• Breaks social isolation and fosters new friendships
• Develops self-confidence
• Alleviates the discomfort of specific physical challenges
• Cultivates your childlike playfulness for a happier you

I think people do it for overall stress management and wellness. It is just plain fun and you can feel the positive effects immediately. You breathe deeper and feel joyful and at peace. :)

Laughing Laura with her laughing friends

KTD!: You've produced a DVD called "Laughter Friends" and a CD "Today is a Laughing Day" which is a collection of fun songs - both for children - what was it like making those and what was it like working with the kids?

LG: It was an absolute delight producing these resources for and with children. My intention was to encourage the natural playfulness of kids and kids at heart. Play increases imagination and can even increase emotional intelligence. So the process of creating them was all about big fun! The kids jumped right in and helped invent laughter yoga exercises and the collaboration was quite exciting.

KTD!: Why might laughter yoga be something that is especially suited towards children, and is this something that parents and kids can do together?

LG: Laughter Yoga induces laughter through playfulness, not jokes. So even though your sense of humor is different from that of your child's, you can laugh together. It actually helps children develop emotional intelligence by opening up their expressive nature. And because of the release of endorphins, that makes you feel good, laughter yoga creates a special bond among the laughers that cannot be understated. What a wonderful activity for parents and grandparents to share with their kids!

KTD!: Do you plan on coming to Alaska anytime soon to do a laughter yoga retreat?

LG: If you want me there, I'll come! I'd love to teach a certified laughter leader class sometime soon. It is a two day class.

KTD!: What is your favorite aspect of working with children?

LG: What I love most about working with children is their creative imagination. When kids are encouraged to think creatively, they really shine. Their inventiveness inspires me.

KTD!: Thanks, Laura!

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