Laugh to the left. Photo by Ruthe Guckson

Have you ever passed by Laguna Beach's Main Beach and wondered why you sometimes see groups of people skipping, stretching and laughing seemingly without a care in the world? What do they have to be so happy about with this economy? Are they laughing because they think they're better than you? Where the heck do they get off? Well, next time, try laughing a little yourself, and see if you don't feel better.

The people who gather at Main Beach every morning form the Laguna Laughter Club, which began in May 2005 and has generated a remarkable amount of happiness ever since. The club's jolly leader is longtime yoga instructor Jeffrey Briar, who has taught classes worldwide since 1976. Briar discovered laughter yoga, or Hasya yoga, in 2004 and immediately took the path to become a certified laughter yoga instructor, training with the founder of this innovative form of yoga, Dr. Madan Kataria, "The Laughing Doctor of Bombay."

Briar leads his faithful followers, young and old, through various Hasya, or "Laughter," yoga routines, involving stretches, breathing exercises and many "intentional laughter techniques." Briar says practicing this form of yoga has many impressive health benefits. On his webpage, laughter is said to "relieve stress," "reduce anxiety, fear and depression," and give a kick to your self-confidence. Plus, Briar says being a part of the Laguna Laughter Club has brought about great "social richness" among him and his members. So, who's laughing now, smarty-pants?

Laguna Laughter Club meets at the Gazebo of Heisler Park, 381 W. Cliff Dr., Laguna Beach, (949) 376-1939; www.joyfulb.com. Sun.-Fri., 7:30 a.m.; Sat., 5:30 p.m.; also at Rancho Senior Citizens Center, 3 Ethel Coplen Way, Irvine, (949) 724-6800. Wed., 9:30 a.m. Register through Irvine Valley College, (949) 451-5382. Free.

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