Friday, February 13, 2009


Laughter constantly enlivens my world. As I laugh with people in laughter club and other laughter yoga sessions, I feel uplifted. It has blessed every aspect of my life with more joy.

Thus, I continue to explore the theme of joy in my art work. I've started a series of small, abstract laughter paintings similar to the laughter portraits I did a few weeks ago. These, however, have no subject matter at all. They represent nothing but pure, unbounded laughter and silliness.

My artistic process is ridiculously simple. I get some paint ready, I laugh, I paint, I laugh, I paint and so forth until the painting seems complete. It is difficult for me to abandon my logical ideas about how a painting should look but that's what I aim to do. I want the painting to capture the essence of laughing joy with the colors, textures and compositions. Below are a few examples.

These paintings are acrylic on a wood block sized 2 1/8" x 3 1/4" x 7/8" and wrapped in celophane. They are priced at just $10 each. Order them at the Laughter Shoppe. You won't know which one you're getting until it arrives. Ha ha ha ha!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I just received my order of Laughter Exercises Photo Flash Cards from the Laughter Yoga Institute of Laguna Beach, California. If you haven't heard about these cards, let me fill you in. Laughter enthusiasts everywhere need to know about this new resource.

The laughter deck was produced by Jeffrey Briar, who was inspired by Jana Gablikova of Slovakia. She suggested that Laughter Yoga Leaders have a visual aid to help them lead laughter sessions more efficiently. So that's just what Jeffrey created, along with the help of the worldwide laughter family. 

The set includes 52 high quality, full color,  jumbo playing cards, which illustrate Laughter Yoga exercises. Many of these are what Laughter Yoga founder Dr. Madan Kataria considers the most important exercises. Each card is illustrated with a photo and an extra quote of laughter inspiration. These photographs come from laughter clubs around the world. I just love that multi-cultural dimension of this product. It gives you a sense of the levity shared around the globe.
There are 8 bonus cards (4 Breathing Exercises and 4 “Jokers” – “Wild” cards) so you can actually use the deck to play card games as well. The king and queen cards all picture Madan and Madhuri Kataria, which is an adorable touch. There is an instruction manual included with complete instructions on how to use the cards, how to carry out each laughter exercise, and how to play other fun games with the cards.  And the whole deck is packaged nicely in a colorful, happy carrying box.

Whether you are a Laughter Yoga Leader or an enthusiastic laugher, this product is a great resource to keep you and your friends laughing. You can order yourself a deck (or several) at the marketplace of the Laughter Yoga Institute. Below is a video about how to use them.

I'd also like to share this marvelous video produced by the Laughter Yoga Institute. It is a great introduction to Laughter Yoga with host Kathryn Burns (a lovely laughter friend of mine). The shots of actual laughter sessions on the beach are sure to give you a giggle.

Monday, February 9, 2009


As you may know, I released my debut album, Today is a Laughing Day, in December 2008. It is a set of laughter-themed songs for kids and kids at heart. Daniel Stout has just posted a review of it at—a blog about music, vinyl, turntables, technology and much more. Since this is the album's first official review, I'd like to share some highlights with you.

In Daniel's review, entitled Happy Jazz: How to be a Smile Millionaire, he writes:

"This new CD is called Today is a Laughing Day. It contains 15 original songs with Laughing Laura and her chorus of Laughketeers backed by a really fabulous jazz trio featuring Tom Bourcier on piano, Karyn Quinn on bass and Rich MacDonald playing the drums.

"These are tough times, and it’s more important now than ever to laugh and be merry. Laura’s CD is great fun. The songs are upbeat and immensely pleasurable to listen to. And whatever mood you’re in, after listening to this CD, it feels like a weight has lifted. There are many standout tracks, but I’d especially point you towards Laughter Friends, Turkey The Turtle (which is about her pet turtle), Enthusiastic, and my personal favorite, Smile Millionaire. The music is swinging, upbeat jazz, and the lyrics are ones only Laughing Laura could write. These are totally unique creations that lift the spirit.

"...Laura says this is an album for 'kids and kids at heart,' and frankly, it works for all ages. The lyrics are lighthearted, and the quick tempo of the jazz will get your toe tapping."

This CD is available at, CDbaby and The Laughter Shoppe. MP3s and free sound samples can be found at DigStation.

Friday, February 6, 2009


The following article was published in the Post-Bulletin of Rochester, Minnesota on February 6th, 2009. Click here to visit the Post-Bulletin site.

Laughter Yoga Leaders Rev. Laura Gentry, left, and Ann Marie Gullickson lighten the mood at a lecture held on Laughter as Medicine Thursday in the Geffen Auditorium.

Laugh off stress, literally
By Matthew Stolle

Ann Marie Gullickson stood in front of a packed auditorium last week and burst out laughing.

Nothing had caused the outburst. No joke. No punch line. It was simple, unreasoning, unprovoked laughter, and that was the point: You don't need a reason to laugh.

"(We think) we laugh because we're happy. The reality is that we are happy because we laugh," Gullickson told an audience of Mayo Clinic employees in Geffen Auditorium.

Gullickson is Rochester's first certified Laughter Yoga Leader. If the thought of a certified laughter leader begins to make you feel a bit mirthful, then you get a sense of how effective she is at her work.

Before long, Gullickson and her partner-in-laughter, the Rev. Laura Gentry, founder of the Iowa School of Laughter Yoga, had the audience of Mayo employees rolling in the aisles after putting them through an assortment of giggling and laughter exercises.

"Close your eyes for just a second and feel the joy coursing through your whole body," Gentry exulted, a hat in the shape of a red flamingo resting atop her head. Gullickson wore a pink wig and was wrapped in a flamboyantly colorful boa.

Studies have long credited laughter with the ability to reduce stress, increase pain tolerance and promote healing. The innovation in laughter yoga is to dispel the notion that you need a reason to laugh. Just the physical act of laughing can bring the same tension-releasing benefits as humor-based laughter. The breathing associated with laughing mimics the breathing exercises of yoga.

The philosophy of Ha! has now spread to the extent that there are 6,000 laughter clubs in more than 60 countries. The first such club was started in Mumbai, India, where a physician named Madan Kataria became so convinced of the therapeutic and healing effects of laughter that he began organizing impromptu laughter sessions at a local park.

Gullickson's first exposure to laughter yoga happened by mistake. She was planning a trip to Mumbai in 2007 and found what she thought was DVD travel documentary about the city. It turned out to be documentary about laughter yoga.

"It was one of those perfect mistakes. Right away, I thought, 'This is something I want to find out more about. I want to incorporate this into my life,'" said Gullickson, who, while in Mumbai, joined in one of the sessions at the park.

Afterwards, Gullickson attended a two-day session at the Iowa School of Laughter Yoga run by Gentry to get her certification. She has put on laughter yoga presentations at the University of Minnesota and Olmsted County, as well as Mayo Clinic.

It's a balm that people may be in need of now more than ever. With a downtrodden economy, jobs vanishing by the thousands and a general mood of uncertainty, a cheap, easy remedy that's available to anyone may be just want the doctor ordered. Laughter can reframe an issue so it doesn't seem so oppressive.

"Your body will feel better. They've even done studies where somebody smiles at themselves in the mirror for six minutes a day, and that helped improve their mood," Gullickson said.

Anne and Larry Jost of Alma, Wis., are all smiles as Laughter Yoga Leaders Rev. Laura Gentry and Ann Marie Gullickson lighten the mood.


The Lansing Laughter Club made an important discovery this week: laughter club sessions can be conducted entirely with puppets! It just so happened that my car got stuck on a patch of ice in another part of town right as laughter club was about to begin. So as I was laughing and making arrangements to get pushed out, the club met without me. They saw that I had left a big basket of puppets out for the meeting.

Now typically, when we've used puppets for laughter club, we've done one exercise called "puppet laughter." It's simple—everyone puts a puppet on their hand and mingles around laughing their puppets with one another. But this time, the club got creative and decided to do the whole meeting with puppets.

So many laughter exercises can be adapted to use with puppets. Examples are:

The Wave—the puppets themselves are thrown into the air as the laughter wave is done
Subway Laughter—the puppets crowd right up together and laugh hysterically as if they were on a crowded subway
Bumper Car Laughter—the puppets ram into each other and bump around like they are bumper cars
Static Electricity Laughter—the puppets try very deviously to shock each other with laughter
Wide Mouth Laugh—the puppets open their mouths totally wide and laugh (puppets can do this much better than humans)
Library Laughter—the puppets sneak around and quietly laugh together, trying not to get caught
Drop Dead Laughing—the puppets flop down and roll around, pounding the floor and laughing out of control (even worse than the Tickle-Me-Elmo doll)

Furthermore, the puppets seem to love speaking in gibberish and laugh heartily at the gibberish jokes the other puppets tell. And, we found, they are excellent yoga breathers, as they breathe with their whole selves.

Now as you can see by the photo above, folks in the Lansing Laughter Club have no problem with shyness. But this little puppet experiment made me realize that using puppets more extensively for Laughter Yoga sessions with certain groups would work well. It allows people to be more confident about doing the silly laughter exercises because they feel it's not not them doing the laughing, it is their puppet. It helps them to play the character of a laugher instead of having to jump right in and be a laugher, particularly if this is a new role for them. It provides a back door to playfulness.

So we encourage you to get some puppets and get laughing! Even old socks will do—as long as they're not stinky. Ha ha ha!

Monday, February 2, 2009


Laughing is a wonderful thing. Since becoming a Laughter Yoga teacher, I have had more laughter in my life than ever before. It has boosted my joy so much that it is hard to describe.

So instead of trying to put this joy into words, I decided to put it into art. That's right. I've started doing what I call "Laughter Portraits."  The first 3 are pictured below. The entire process of creating them was infused with laughter. My husband took pictures of the two of us laughing. Then, I used those photos to draw the silhouettes onto canvas. Finally, I filled them in using vibrant colors—actually laughing as I painted. I tried to abandon logical planning and paint more freely and intuitively, allowing the spirit of the laughter to guide me. The result is a physical manifestation of the laughing moment! I hope they give you a giggle or a even a full belly laugh.

These paintings are 24" x 24" — acrylic on canvas.

If you'd like to be a "laughter model" for future paintings, 
e-mail me at 
To see more of my art work, please visit