Laughter yoga can help highlight the health benefits of laughter

Laughing yoga combines traditional stretching with gut busting laughs and it can have serious health benefits.

The yoga class begins with a few simple moves and then the laughing begins.

Laughter Yoga on California's Laguna Beach guides students through different exercises designed to make them laugh.

Instructor Jeffrey Briar first brought laughter into his classes 12 years ago. While he admits the practice can look a bit unusual, he thinks the health benefits are no joke.

"I used to be sick about 3 weeks a year," said Briar. "Now I'll go years with no cold, no flu."

Doctor Lee Berk of Loma Linda University says the benefits of laughing are measurable.

"We're starting to understand laughter much better than we ever did," said Dr. Berk.

He tracks the effects of laughter on the brain and body. Research shows laughing lowers blood pressure and reduces stress hormones. It also boosts the immune system.

Pediatrician Yolanda Quam has been a laughing yoga student for two years and said the class has changed her life.

"I feel rejuvenated, I feel alive, I feel happy," said Dr. Quam. "Just be free, laugh!"

Laughing Yoga was first developed by a doctor in India. It's based on the concept that the body can't tell the difference between real laughter and fake laughter, so the physical and mental benefits are the same.