Just for laughs

Helen Fong isn’t a comedian, she’s a yoga instructor, but in no time she’ll have you doubling over in the name of relaxation.

Why so serious, Helen Fong?
Why so serious, Helen Fong?

Out of control, gut-busting laughter is probably the opposite of what comes to mind when you think about a Saturday afternoon at the library. But that's what you'll hear at the Keshen Goodman branch when Helen Fong is in the building. The familiar face in the local yoga scene is also the instructor behind Halifax's Laughter Club, an open group that gets together monthly do some off-the-mat practice, let go of everything and laugh for 45 minutes. Helping people loosen up and work through a series of sometimes silly exercises that take the form of chuckles, titters, belly laughs and guffaws isn't always easy.

"I like that childlike curiosity and I guess that's what helps," says Fong of the practice, which originated in Mumbai in 1995. Now, there are over 6,000 laughter clubs worldwide. "It's sort of like doing improv comedy. I just need people to laugh for no reason. The brain doesn't know the difference between real and fake laughter; I don't tell any jokes, but I do make people feel at ease." Fong was first introduced to laughter yoga in 2009, and since has lead laughter sessions at staff functions, for rehabilitation and at a memorial service before starting her own club last February, with the help of two friends. "As adults we don't get enough laughter in our lives," says Fong. "I definitely feel healthier after I do laughter yoga, I feel like I'm smiling for the whole day. It's all about losing control, and that's great for people."

For more info: helenfongyoga.com or see page 28 for class info.

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