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Fall/Winter 2009

Ha-Ha Om

By Michaela Jarvis

Quick. Which would you rather do: grimace on a treadmill or laugh your head off?

If you chose the second option, we strongly recommend you check out the laughter yoga classes offered by Petaluma's Carmela Carlyle. "You can't wait until you have a reason to laugh," the exuberant Carlyle says. "You laugh first, and then you feel better."

Carlyle's classes take place all over Sonoma County, and in Petaluma at her studio and at the Bodyworks yoga studio, where she holds a Happy Hour Laughter Yoga club on the third Friday of each month. Starting in November, she plans to offer a six-week Laughter Yoga in a Yurt series in downtown Sonoma.

Believing that laughter is the best medicine, Carlyle presents training in laughter yoga to health-care providers at the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine.

"The doctors and nurses are like, 'Wow, this really works,' " says Carlyle, a psychotherapist by training.

But what about thinking of laughing as an everyday workout? By some estimates, laughter provides powerful fitness benefits, with one minute of mirthful laughter tripling your heart rate and equaling nine minutes on a rowing machine.

And it's way more fun.

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