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That's a fake laugh
I-Laughing Yoga pic1
Laughter yoga instructor Josie Bailey and her volunteer leaders get carried away last week at the library. - photo by Amy French Dawson County News

Fake laughing may have gotten a bad rap.

Just ask certified laughter yoga instructor, Josie Bailey.

"Your body doesn't know the difference between real laughter and fake laughter. You receive the benefits from either," Bailey said.

Bailey visited the Dawson County Library last week to lead a room full of participants, young and old, in a session of laughter yoga.

She explained the theory behind the practice.

"There are over 37 trillion cells in your body and each one of those cells need oxygen to function properly. One of the best ways to give them oxygen is through deep breathing," she said.

Every time a person laughs, they deep breathe. So whether you are fake laughing or full on cracking up, your body gets the beneficial oxygen.

Bailey pointed out that breathing is gift we receive at birth.

"It was given to you to heal your body, to calm you down, to keep you focused. Today hopefully you will realize some of those things," she said.

According to Bailey laughter yoga dates back to 1985 when an Indian doctor named Madan Kataria was studying the effects of laughter on the body.

The doctor's results, along with several other specific scientific studies, have shown that laughter lowers levels of stress hormones in the blood.

Kataria's wife was a yoga instructor and together they forged what is now known as laughter yoga.

Bailey said that it is practiced in more than 60 countries worldwide.

With 20 years of storytelling experience, Bailey comfortably engaged the group that initially seemed wary. She started with making her way around the room, looking people directly in the eyes while shaking hands and belting out loud and contagious laughs.

She then guided participants through 20 minutes of the laughter yoga exercises. Kids engaged and quickly let loose with jumping, giggling and doubling over.

Exaggerated motions and silly facial expressions were a natural outpouring that came easily to her and almost as easily to everyone who participated.

Between exercises, Bailey would lift her hands overhead and call out "Very good. Very good. Yay!"

After the aerobic exercise, Bailey transitioned to what would be considered a more traditional session of breathing associated with yoga.

Lights low, still and quiet, laughter subsided and participants relaxed and focused their breathing.

"When you breathe in you are breathing in good oxygen and when you breathe out, you are taking out toxins. Breathe out longer than you breathe in to get those toxins out," she said.

After the relaxation portion, people filed out and a few stayed to ask if she would be doing classes on a regular basis.

Bailey received a grant with the Atlanta Public Library to travel to its 34 branches to introduce people to laughter yoga.