Friday, March 23, 2012


This article just ran in The Standard of Waukon, Iowa. Click here to see it at the Standard site.

Friday, February 17, the TASC, Inc. building on Mt. Olivet Road in Waukon was literally bursting with laughter. The special guest that day was the Reverend Laura Gentry. An internationally recognized teacher of laughter yoga and pastor of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Lansing, Gentry led a session of laughter exercises for more than 40 members of the TASC community.

TASC is a community-based organization, which promotes and builds a more inclusive community where people with disabilities obtain jobs and housing of their choosing, wages commensurate with their skills, and increased self-dependence and integration in their communities through progressive and effective program services.

“Laughter is exceptionally good for physical and emotional health,” said Gentry. “It also helps boost self-esteem, which is particularly great for disabled persons.” She explained that the method of laughter yoga, which is now practiced in 70 countries around the world, enables people to experience acceptance and joy. “You could certainly see that at TASC. Everyone was having a fantastic time,” she added.

This wasn’t the first time that laughter yoga has been led at TASC. Gentry volunteered to offer a session there several, years ago and since November TASC Program Associate Kim Timmerman has been leading laughter yoga sessions there each week.

Timmerman is a member of the Lansing Laughter Club, led by Gentry. The club meets each Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. in Lansing. There, she learned a number of laughter exercises and yoga breathing techniques. 

Timmerman is pictured here with members of her Laughter Club at TASC

Last fall, she decided it was time to share these things with the TASC community. “They love it!” declared Timmerman. “Most people laugh whenever they see me now. They call me the Laughing Lady.”

Laughter yoga is a great addition to the programs offered by TASC, Timmerman explained, because it gets people doing physical exercise. She says even if they are restricted to a wheelchair, they still get a cardiovascular workout by laughing.

“Some of the individuals I work with can’t comprehend a joke but with laughter yoga they don’t need to. They just see me laughing and they laugh along or at least smile. It is so contagious, which makes it really effective here”.

Timmerman used the principles of laughter yoga in other parts of her work at TASC as well. She recalled an incident in which a woman in her care was very upset and needed to be taken to another part of the facility to have her conflict resolved by a staff member. 

Timmerman suggested that they laugh their way there instead of just walking. The woman agreed and by the time they got to the office, her distress had dissipated. “She couldn’t even remember why she was mad,” said Timmerman. “She was in a great mood again.”


UPDATE: The Laughter Yoga Leader Retreat being held over April Fool's Weekend got so full that we've had to secure a bigger meeting space on the camp. So many amazing laughers! And that's good news for you. If you haven't yet registered, there is now extra space for YOU. Click here for details.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


I will be presenting a program of faith-filled joy 
at a women's retreat in Marion, Iowa this weekend. 


On Friday, March 20th, I will be doing a program of laughter yoga for the Mount Vernon-Lisbon Cabin Fever Comedy Festival. The following article ran in the Cedar Rapids Gazette. Please click here and here for information about the festival.

Red noses promote laughter in Mount Vernon-Lisbon

Attendees at this week's Cabin Fever Comedy Festival in and around Mount Vernon and Lisbon must wear red clown noses, as modeled by (from left) Miles Fuller, Joe Jennison and Gazette Columnist Dave Rasdal, to get access to the events.

MOUNT VERNON — What do you do when you hold a winter-fest celebration and there’s no snow?

You laugh it off and hold a comedy fest the next year. You make sure everyone is red-faced, er, red-nosed about it.

The first Cabin Fever Comedy Festival in the Mount Vernon-Lison area begins Tuesday and runs through the weekend. It features plenty of laughs at two dozen events, not the least of which will be seeing the audience wear red foam-rubber clown noses. That’s because you buy a nose for three bucks and get free admission to all events.

Obviously, the festival’s name derives from the fact we’ve usually been cooped up all winter. But, with temperatures already in the 70s and very little snow, festival organizers are 0 for 2 as weather forecasters.

“You’ve been happy and content going out this winter because it’s been nice,” laughs Cabin Fever founder Miles Fuller. “And now we have this festival, It’s ironic.”

But “Cabin Fever” promises to cure spring fever with everything from seminars by Laughing Laura to the “Funniest Person in Mount Vernon and Lisbon” contest. (For events see or keep your eye on The Gazette).

The comedy festival came about as Miles, a non-fiction creative writing instructor at the University of Iowa, talked about it among friends in Mount Vernon. He brought the idea to Joe Jennison, marketing director for the Mount Vernon and Lisbon Community Development Group. A committee was formed and the festival was born.

Originally, Miles, 25, a closet standup comedian, had considered holding the festival in Iowa City.

“I decided it wouldn’t work there,” he says. “We’re all serious as a heart attack.”

But Mount Vernon and Lisbon seemed ideal, just as the area had lured the Salt Lake City native to his place of residence.

“It’s beautiful. They have just the right amount of delicious food. And I’m really happy to be here because they said ‘yes’ to the festival.”

Ideas tossed around to promote the funny fest included T-shirts, maybe even trying to schlep the surplus from the previous year. But a new festival needed a new angle.

Rubber chickens? Whoopee cushions? Joy buzzers? Clown noses?

“When you said noses, it was such a great idea,” Miles says to Joe. “The noses work because the audience has to wear them to get into all of the events. Everyone has to participate.”

The communities have already embraced the idea like a clown takes to seltzer water, making a dent in the supply of 2,000 red noses and taking pictures of themselves in groups or individually wearing the noses for Facebook and website display.

“One of them is a dentist,” Miles says with a smile. “He got into the laughing gas.”

Comments: (319) 398-8323;

Admission to all events is a red clown nose that can be purchased for $3 at a variety of area locations or at the Mount Vernon Visitor’s Center, also headquarters for the Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Development Group. (See its website at

Highlights include:

• “Laughing Laura” workshop at 7 p.m. Friday, First Presbyterian Church, Mount Vernon. The Rev. Laura Gentry directs the Iowa School of Laughter Yoga in Lansing as a pioneer of the laughter movement. She has led classes on five continents and is the first woman in America to become a Master Trainer of Laughter.

• “Funniest Person in Mount Vernon and Lisbon” contest, 4 p.m. Saturday, First Street Community Center, Mount Vernon. Amateur comedians of any age or experience level will give 2- to 5-minute family-friendly performances to try to win the title of “2012 Funniest Person in Mount Vernon and Lisbon” and $100. Applications are available at

• Late Night Stand-up, 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Professional comedians from around the state will perform at area clubs (C&D Lounge, Chameleon’s and Scorz in Mount Vernon) with Paperback Rhino Improv Group at 9:30 p.m. Saturday at 3 Finger Saloon in Lisbon.

I've got my clown nose ready and I'm excited for this hilarious weekend!


On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to share laughter yoga with the Women's Club of Luther College—my very own alma mater. We had a fabulous time with all the laughing ladies. Below, I am pictured with the organizers, Marilynn Larson and Ruby Hermeier.

The following article ran in the Decorah Newspapers.

Laughter Yoga is program for Luther College Woman's Club

Laura Gentry, Director of the Iowa School of Laughter Yoga, will present the program of the Luther College Woman's Club Tuesday, March 20, at 1:30 p.m.

Gentry, known as "Laughing Laura," lives in McGregor and directs the Iowa School of Laughter Yoga. She is a Laughter Yoga master trainer and has been named a laughter ambassador by Laughter Club International.

Laughing Laura is the producer of a number of Laughter Yoga resources including the film "Laughter Friends: A Laughter Yoga Workout for Kids," which has been recommended by the American Library Association and sent to U.S. military bases around the world to support healthy families as a part of Operation Military Kid. She has led Laughter Yoga around the U.S. and in five foreign countries so far.

A 1992 graduate of Luther College, Gentry also is an ordained minister in the ELCA and pastor of Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Lansing.

Luther College Woman's Club meets monthly in the Peace Dining Room of the Dahl Centennial Union at 1:30 p.m. All women from Decorah and surrounding communities are welcomed and encouraged to attend Luther College Woman's Club.

Refreshments are served following the program, brief business meeting and an update on current events at Luther College. Shuttle service from the Decorah Swimming Pool parking lot is available. Call Ruby Hermeier at (563) 382-4999 to arrange for this service. 

Childcare also is available during the meetings. Call Amy Bruening at (563) 382-8604 to arrange for this service.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


The McGregor Marquette Chamber of Commerce hosted the second annual Girls' Get Away Weekend. And since it was right in my own hometown, I led a laughter yoga session to kick off the day. My husband was on hand to get these fun pictures of laughers in action.  It was also the debut of my new laughing hat! I made it myself. Be sure to check out the video at the end.

Here is the direct link to the video below

The laughter yoga weekend retreat I'm planning is now less than two weeks away and is nearly filled! We've got a fabulous group assembled.  If you're still planning to come, don't delay! Register right away at The Iowa School of Laughter Yoga.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Last year, the Reverend Charles Johnson enrolled in the Iowa School of Laughter Yoga Certified Laughter Yoga Leader e-course. He was an enthusiastic student who conducted all of his practice sessions at work. He was able to do so because he is chaplain of the Hastings Village in Hastings Nebraska. His aim in taking the course was to add laughter yoga to the ministries he offers at the village.
A year later, the laughter is still going strong! The Good Samaritan Society, of which Hastings Village is a part, just ran this article at their main web site. It highlights the joyful work that Pastor Johnson is doing and how laughter yoga is enriching lives. I'm so proud of him.

Laughter Yoga is healthy fun
Mar 01, 2012

(Hastings, Neb.) – First you hear the clapping, then the words, “Very good, very good, very good, yay!” Then you hear laughter.

Another session of Laughter Yoga has just begun.

Pastor Charles Johnson laughing with a resident

Started at the Hastings Village campus more than a year ago by the Village’s spiritual ministries director, Pastor Charles Johnson, Laughter Yoga has become a popular afternoon activity among the residents in Goldbeck Towers apartments, Perkins Pavilion rehab/skilled care center and, most recently, The Villa Assisted Living.

“I became a certified Laughter Yoga leader after taking an online course,” says Pastor Chuck. “It was led by internationally known Laughter Yoga instructor Laura Gentry, who is also an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America minister from Lansing, Iowa. It was a three-month course, and after the first week, I was hooked.”

Each Laughter Yoga session lasts 25 to 30 minutes, which is long enough when you consider that 30 seconds of laughing is the equivalent of three to five minutes on a rowing machine, according to Pastor Chuck. The class also includes breathing exercises, stretching and simple exercises that participants are encouraged to do to the best of their abilities. “One main theme that I constantly tell people is, ‘Fake it ’til you make it,’??” says Pastor Chuck. That goes for the exercises as well as the laughter.

However, according to Crystal Johnson, director of The Villa, the laughter is contagious. “My office is across from the exercise room, and it makes me giggle to hear all of them laughing.”

By Karen Doerr
Community Relations Coordinator, Good Samaritan Society – Hastings Village

Pssst! You can still enroll in the April Fools Day weekend retreat and become a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader too! Go to Laughter Yoga Iowa to learn more.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Like many of you, I was aware that for the very first time, a full-length documentary about laughter was coming out.  Some laughter clubs around the country even got organized enough to host screenings of Laughology their community. It got most everyone excited and there was considerable buzz in the laughter yoga community.

Well, I have finally seen the film myself. It inspired me to post a review here because I'm terribly enthusiastic about it. I mean, I expected Laughology to be good. But I was wrong. It was GREAT. Exceptionally great!

Canadian journalist and filmmaker, Albert Nerenberg, frames the journey of this film with his own story. Like so many others, he had "lost his laugh" by becoming a serious adult leading a stressful life. In a desperate attempt to rediscover his inner joy, he explores the many ways in which laughter is therapeutic. Along the way, he highlights important figures in this field including Dr. Robert Provine, Norman Cousins, Dr. Madan Kataria, and Doug Collins—the man with the world's most contagious laugh (if you are not one of the 23 million people who has already seen his runaway YouTube hit, click here to watch it: 

Nerenberg travels to a number places around the globe and even goes to Africa to investigate the laughter epidemic that happened in Tanzania in the 1960s. This is a particularly fascinating piece.

Laughology is intelligent, informative, entertaining and hilarious. Interspersed throughout the film are great clips of people laughing contagiously, which makes it such fun to watch. Nerenberg plays the straight man so well by not laughing in the presence of laughing people. This, too, is funny. 

I’ve finally shown it to my laughter club and the members loved it. They were falling out of their chairs watching it! I highly recommend Laughology. I'll be showing it at all my laughter yoga seminars from now on. 

Go to the Laughology site to watch the trailer and download it instantly. It is also available at Click the image below to go there.

Friday, March 2, 2012


The following is an interview I just gave to the Scrivens Post of Denmark.

Ever heard of Laughter Yoga?! Did you even know there was such a thing?! Well I didn’t!

So I found an expert in Laughter Yoga to interview. Laura Gentry was so much fun (and  laughter)!

Laughing Laura is an internationally known figure in the Laughter Yoga movement. She has led motivational laughter programs on 5 continents and was named a “Laughter Ambasador” by Laughter Club International. You can read more about Laura and the Laughter Yoga movement at

Here’s the interview:

TSP: Why do you do what you do?

LG: I am on a mission to increase world laughter because it's where my greatest strength meets the world's greatest need. 

TSP: What is the best part of your job?

LG: My job is to laugh with people. Every part of that is the best part!

TSP: Do you have a particular experience you’d like to share with us?

LG: I’ve laughed with many people around the globe and it’s always miraculous how the laughter brings us together—even when language, culture or some other factor divides us. Recently, however, I was totally blown away when I went into a men’s prison in Mexico City to practice laughter yoga with violent offenders. It was scarey because, just moments before I entered the facility, I found out that the inmates were armed. I must have been crazy to put myself in harm’s way like that, but I was driven by my desire to share laughter. What I found was that the men were incredibly respectful and appreciative, epecially when they found out I am a priest. They actually acted shy around me at first, but when we started doing the laughter exercises together, we formed an indelible bond. All the things that separate me from them suddenly melted away and we were just like a bunch old friends having a good laugh together. I expected that I would bless them by bringing laughter into that dark place, but what I discovered is that they already had laughter in their hearts and I was the one who ended up getting blessed by their generosity.

TSP: If you could go back in time to when you were 20 years old and give yourself some advice – what would it be?

LG: You are much more amazing than you realize! Just be your amazing self and laugh at anyone who tries to tame you.

TSP: What do you feel is the greatest lack in the world?

LG: Joy. With depression on the rise, I think it is imperative to restore joy through laughter.
TSP: What is your definition of a spiritual person? 

LG: To be spiritual is to connect with your own spirit. One of my favorite tools for spiritual growth is laughter meditation. You simply lie down and laugh—allowing the laughter to flow from your spirit, rather than a joke or funny situation. This puts you in the present moment and gives you a sense of unity with all that is.

TSP: Do you have a life philosophy that you follow?

LG: Live life laughingly. HA HA HA!

TSP: What in your opinion, is the most important thing that parents can give their children to prepare them for life?

LG: Approval. So many adults feel they never really got it from their parents and so they spend ridiculous amounts of energy seeking it. It is a source of much unhappiness in the world. Parents, I know you don’t always approve of your kids’ actions but if you can give them a sense that you love them unconditionally—that you approve of who they are— you will be giving them an enormous gift. It will arm them with confidence that will serve them throughout their lives.