Sunday, January 20, 2008


Jarod Michael, son of Matt and Noelle Reams, was baptized at Our Savior's Lutheran Church on Sunday, January 20, 2008. Pictured above are: sponsor Danny Reams, Matt Reams with Jarod Michael, Noelle Reams, sponsor Kathy Mitchell and Pastor Laura Gentry.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


This month, the Lansing Laughter Club, a ministry of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, celebrates its one-year anniversary. For a whole year, the group has met each Wednesday evening at 6:00 p.m. at the Kerndt Brothers Community Center on Main Street to laugh for a half hour.

Using a method called laughter yoga, developed in 1995 by a medical doctor, the Lansing Laughter Club laughs without the necessity of jokes. The basic premise of laughter yoga is that anyone can laugh. We don’t even need a sense of humor. All we need is the desire to laugh, to open up our hearts and let the joy and laughter flow. Laughter yoga combines laughter exercises with deep breathing, stretching, and relaxation. When it is practiced in a group, it becomes absolutely contagious. Not only do people laugh, but they joyfully connect with one another and cultivate their own childlike playfulness.

As the old saying goes, laughter is the best medicine. Laughter has been proven to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease, strengthen your immune system, ease physical pain and boost happiness. Participating in laughter yoga sessions can also increase creativity, physical vitality and emotional intelligence. Besides, it is just plain fun.

The Lansing Laughter Club draws laughers of all ages from Lansing and Waukon. Often, people from outside the area drop in to experience laughter yoga as well. Laughter club is a unique place where the generations can join together in a unifying activity. Even those with physical limitations or disabilities can actively participate.

Because it is the first laughter club in Iowa registered at the international laughter yoga site,, it has received a great deal of media attention. In addition to coverage by local newspapers, the Des Moines Register ran a front page article in February. It was featured in the religion section of the LaCrosse Tribune in May. The Lutheran, the national magazine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, published two articles about the club. KWWL Channel 7 aired a special feature about the laughter club in May.

One of the highlights of the year for the laughter club was the costume party held on Halloween night. Laughers, dressed in a wide array of costumes, paraded down Main Street with signs. They offered free laughs to everyone as a special Halloween treat.

Gary Jones and his wife, Janet McMillan, make the trip from Waukon each week to participate in the Lansing Laughter Club. “We just love it!” they proclaim.

“That half hour flies right by! You want to stay even longer.” says Jones.

Lansing resident, Donna Thran, has also been a regular participant. She recognizes the difference it has made in her life. “Even if you didn’t think you wanted to come to laughter club, it’s worth it. You get here and get to laughing and when you get home, you feel so energized.”

Duane Heit also echoes this sentiment. “When I leave laughter club, I always feel great.”

Rich Gramlich believes that his participation in the group has changed his life for the better. “Laughter Club has improved my overall well-being. I feel healthier. I feel more vibrant—not just at laughter club but in my everyday life. And I have made a wonderful set of new friends by attending these meetings each week.”

Laughter club leader, Pastor Laura Gentry, is amazed by the positive effects of practicing laughter yoga. “It is such an immunity booster,” she says. “In the past year, I only got one cold and I got over it immediately. The laughter has truly made me more resilient.”

Gentry thinks the community-building power of laughter is astonishing. “When you laugh with people, it breaks down all barriers and you quickly become friends. At laughter club, everyone feels loved and important, even first time visitors. And that makes it a great outreach ministry.”

Gentry, convinced of the importance of laughter clubs, traveled to California last May to study with Dr. Madan Kataria. The founder of laughter yoga, Kataria lives in Mumbai, India. After a week-long course, Gentry became a certified laughter yoga teacher. She has now trained 20 laughter yoga leaders.

Two of her students, Mary Beth Theising and Maxxximum Madcap of Decorah, started their own laughter club. It meets each Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. at the Senior Center, 806 River Street in Decorah.

Another laughter student of Gentry’s, Anna Moody of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, has begun doing laughter yoga sessions at the Elkader Hospital. She is also planning to lead laughter yoga at the McGregor Public Library.

Gentry’s third laughter yoga leader seminar is scheduled for February 8th through the 10th in Ferryville, Wisconsin. “This seminar will be a retreat where people can get away from their everyday stresses and laugh, learn and develop meaningful friendships.” Explains Gentry who is eagerly anticipating this upcoming laughter seminar. Several people are flying in from out of state to participate. Enrollment is limited, but there are still a few spots open.

The Lansing Laughter Club is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the Our Savior’s Lutheran Church Web site at or call the church at 563-538-4664.