By Heidi Glaus
KIRKWOOD, Mo. (KSDK) - Every Sunday around 4 p.m. in a rented space at a church in Kirkwood, hymms are replaced by hearty, purposeful laughter.
"So welcome; wow, big crowd," says Marlene Chertok, greeting the crowd of more than 20.
It's a group that started gathering and giggly nine years ago when Chertok decided she needed to learn to laugh again.
"I was recovering from breast cancer and started reading about the healing benefits of laughter and what laughter did for the immune system," Chertok explains.
That's when she stumbled upon laughter yoga, a not-so-ancient practice developed in India in 1995 that doesn't involve yoga pants or a single yoga pose, but rather child's play.
"It's really very much about the breath and that's really the yoga part of it," Chertok points out.
They are actions that require people to lose their ego and simply be silly.
"Of course you feel silly! It's crazy, you're making silly sounds, you're hugging people, you're inventing foolishness you bet, yes it's totally nuts," says Linda Gwin, a first time participant.
It's obviously not for everyone, but the people who continue to come back feel more than a tickle in their funny bone.
"They know that stress actually weakens the heart, they know that stress raises blood pressure well hearty laughter ten minutes or more appears to do the exact opposite of stress," Chertok says.
"This is special! It's like you can have fun and don't even have to have anything to drink, it's just wonderful," adds Gertie Wasser, a longtime participant.
The laughter club meets every Sunday, there's no charge and to learn more just check out the related link.