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Laughter Yoga No Joking Matter

The Westwood Laughter Circle meets the third Wednesday of every month at Westwoods Center.

To Linda and Bill Hamaker, laughing is no joke.

In fact, the couple believes that laughing is quite a serious and necessary act for adults to engage in. And now, they’re doing all they can to promote the art of laughing through .

The couple began holding sessions in Westwood back in November, but have been engaged in the practice since 2008.

The group meets at The Center at Westwoods Meditation Hall on the third Wednesday of every month for an hour.

Veteran laughter and Westwood resident Aline Barrett first heard about the concept through an announcement in the paper, and is now training to become a session leader herself like the Hamakers.

"It was kind of like tonight," Barrett said Wednesday, recalling her first experience with the Westwood Laughter Circle. "You walk in here and everything is kind of stiff. Then by the end of the evening, you can't even take the smile off your face. It's amazing to think you don't need anything external to make you laugh."

The experience, Barrett added, has allowed her to bring laughter into parts of her life that she didn't expect to be laughing, such as in the car, driving to a work-related convention to help ease the tension.

There are no age restrictions on who can join in the group, and anyone of all physical abilities can participate. There are no fancy poses like in traditional yoga practice.

The Hamakers initiate laughter as an exercise, and make it a point to make eye contact with child-like playfulness during the sessions. The sessions are based on the scientific notion that the body cannot determine the difference between fake and real laughter, as long as it is done with willingness.

For more information on Laughter Yoga, visit www.letslaughtoday.com .

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