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Laughing Yoga – Laughing Matters

Powerful Patient, 2008 Week 49

Joyce Graff, host, on


Sandra Boris-Berkowitz

Sandra Boris-Berkowitz

Beginning December 1, 2008

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Program guide for this show


For years we have heard that Laughter is the Best Medicine.  A doctor in India founded a movement of Laughter Yoga which has spread to more than 60 countries.  Got nothing to laugh about?  You can get the same benefits from faking it. “Fake it until you make it.” 


About Our Guest


Sandra Boris-Berkowitz, M.Ed., LRC, is a Laughter Yoga Leadercertified by the Dr. Kataria School of Laughter Yoga. She is also a teacher and a licensed rehabilitation counselor.


Sandra taught at Perkins School for the Blind (Watertown, Massachusetts) and was the Education Coordinator for Springwell (Watertown, Massachusetts), an agency serving older adults, people with disabilities and family caregivers.


Sandra earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in education from Boston College.


She is available for laughing workshops for corporate groups or social groups – anywhere people are under stress.


Laughing Matters, 1901 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA 02445
phone: 617.877.7570 or 617.735.0602


About Laughter


Over 25 years ago, Dr. Norman Cousins in his book Anatomy of an Illness described how watching Marx Brother movies helped him recover from a life-threatening tissue disease.

"Is it possible," he wondered, "that love, hope, faith, laughter, and confidence and the will to live have therapeutic value?" Cousins made it a point to enjoy a hearty belly laugh several times a day. A few minutes of laughter gave him an hour or more of pain-free sleep.


Scientific studies have proved that hearty laughter has a powerful and immediate strengthening effect on our immune system.  See especially the work of Dr. Lee Berk of Loma Linda University,         

Laughter quickly increases immunoglobulin levels that help fight infection and increases the number of Natural Killer Cells (NK cells) in the blood. Natural killer cells play a key role in cancer prevention. Dr Berk took blood samples from subjects watching humorous videos and found that natural killer cells increased significantly with laughter. The NK cells in blood samples from laughing subjects quickly killed cancer cells he introduced into the samples.


There is medical evidence that laughter releases natural hormones (endorphins) which help you feel good.  Laughter reduces stress, increases energy, boosts the immune system, provides natural pain relief, and improves brain functioning.


According to Dr. Kataria: “We start laughter as an exercise, and combine it with yoga breathing.  When you laugh in a group it turns into real laughter until it becomes unstoppable, from your deep within.  Anyone can laugh: no jokes, no humor, no comedy skills. 


One minute of laughter is equivalent to 6-10 minutes on a treadmill.  Fifteen minutes of laughter a day can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.


"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~ e.e.cummings


"Laughter is an instant vacation." ~ Milton Berle


"With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die." ~ Abraham Lincoln


“Laughter may or may not activate the endorphins or enhance respiration, as some medical researchers contend. What seems clear, however, is that laughter is an antidote to apprehension and panic." ~ Norman Cousins


Do you want to add more laughter to your life?


About Laughter Yoga


Dr. Madan Kataria founded Laughter Yoga in 1995.  There are now more than 6,000 laughter clubs in 60 countries.  See    


Included in this program are excerpts from the audio tracks of several videos on YouTube:

Some Resources for Seniors


Sandy describes how she used Laughter Yoga exercises during her mother’s decline and death from Alzheimer’s.  Laughter helped raise her mother’s spirits and enlist her cooperation, and it also helped Sandy as the caregiver take care of her own self.  In the course of the conversation we mentioned several resources for seniors and caregivers.


Aging Service Access Provider (ASAP) is a federal program, organized at the state level.  In Massachusetts, the primary resource page is


Similarly, the Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) are also organized separately by state.  The national organization can be found at


Click on the tab “Answers on Aging” to find services in your area.
There is a rich network of services for senior citizens.  Sometimes these services are available to younger people who are disabled.  Feel free to ask, as they may be able to guide you to services in your state who can help.  For a listing of the kinds of services you will find, see


Contact the Eldercare Locator at 800.677.1116 or to find home and community-based services.