Engstrom discovered laughter yoga while living in Mexico. Between exercises in her class, participants chant “Muy Bien! Muy Bien!” while clapping and performing hand gestures.
In January 2015, Engstrom founded Health and Happiness Align.
She now runs yoga laughter classes for local businesses, senior centers, assisted living communities, community organizations and health groups.
Laughter yoga is different from traditional forms, Engstrom said.
“It’s about cultivating laughter and consciously laughing,” she said. “The reason why it’s called laughter yoga is the connection with the breath. Essentially laughter is just a way to facilitate deep breathing.”
According to a handout from Engstrom’s class, the benefits of laughter include a strengthened immune system, aerobic exercise, decreased blood pressure and increased life expectancy, among others.
“It doesn’t matter whether or not the laughter is real or fake — you get the same health benefits,” she said.
Rarely do class participants talk to each other. Laughter is instead used as language.