Laurie Nathanson is all smiles while leading her laugh club's exercises. Submitted photo

Who knew doing something so good for you could be so easy.

We've all heard the benefits of laughter: reduces stress, lifts your mood, and has been said to add years to your life.

For Laurie Nathanson, these benefits and more is what keeps her motivated to run Laurie's Laughoholic Club in Ahwatukee Foothills.

Her laugh club provides a judge-free space; where people can meet, get silly and, you guessed it, laugh.

The idea of laugh clubs started in India by a doctor in 1995, which later turned into Laughter Yoga International.

Laugh clubs have since sprouted in 60 countries and include more than 6,000 members. Nathanson's research in Laughter Yoga International began shortly after her father passed in 2005 and later in 2008 she started her own club.

Nathanson, 59, knows from personal experience how laughter can steer one away from negative emotions.

"I started three years ago, two weeks after my mom passed away," she said, "It stopped me from falling into the harmful effects of stress and depression."

"I keep on doing it for both of them," Nathanson added.

The secret recipe to laugh clubs is yogic deep breathing, followed by a series of laugh exercises, and finishing with a cool down.

In Laurie's club, however, attendees are offered an optional but fun dance time to conclude.

Laugh leader Nathanson admits that not everyone has a sense of humor, but everyone can laugh.

"There are only fun-seekers that come to the club," said Nathanson, who admits some people can be apprehensive about giving laugh club a try.

"People don't want to let go, I'm not afraid to look silly," said Laurie Elle, who has been attending Laurie's Laughoholic Club for about six months.

Nathanson, who is also a manicurist in central Phoenix, eventually wants to offer these practices to businesses and senior centers.

"We have to make a commitment to take care of our body and it takes some effort to do that," she said.

Any age and mobility level can participate in laugh club, Nathanson said.

"We're just doing something so good for ourselves and it's so easy," she added.

Laurie's Laughoholic Club meets once a month at Curves, 4025 E. Chandler Blvd., in Ahwatukee.

For more information on the club and how to attend a meeting, visit www.laughoholicclub.com.

For more information on Laughter Yoga International, visit www.laughteryoga.org.

Diana Martinez is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a junior at Arizona State University.

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