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Yoga class ‘happiest workout in the world’

Rosanne Spinner, of New Hyde Park, teaches a

Rosanne Spinner, of New Hyde Park, teaches a laughter yoga class in her home twice a month. The class entails playful exercises that contribute to stress reduction, like dancing, making funny faces and imagining being in funny situations. (Feb. 9, 2011) Photo Credit: T.C. McCarthy

Rosanne Spinner brings people into her New Hyde Park home twice a month to teach a class on smiling. It’s called Laughter Yoga.

Adult students sing in gibberish, dance, quack like ducks, bark like dogs and practice various breathing exercises to reduce stress and boost their health.

“It is the happiest workout in the world,” she said. “We laugh for no reason.”

Spinner, 64 and a breast cancer survivor, said the exercises lower blood pressure, flush the lymphatic system and boost concentration. The physical act of smiling requires use of 52 muscles in the face, releasing endorphin hormones that contribute to relaxation.

Doctors believe that low stress levels help the body to heal and combat disease, according to the American Journal of Medical Sciences.

Spinner, a holistic health coach who is certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, charges $5 per class -- enough to cover insurance fees, she said.

One of Spinner’s students, Pat Caputi, 81, and his wife, Audrey, 78, have been taking the class since the program started in 2009. Pat Caputi was diagnosed last summer with stage-four spinal cancer. A mass on his spine and in several lymph nodes cause Caputi pain, but he said it’s alleviated after a laughter yoga class.

“It’s not funny; this is medicine,” Caputi said. “When I got up to do the things that they were doing last night, it [the pain] seemed to just float away.”

One of Spinner’s rules is that students must stop participating in an exercise if it causes pain.

If his back or legs hurt before coming to class, Caputi will play along from a couch, laughing and dancing in his seat. Caputi’s doctor told him last Wednesday that the tumor on his back has reduced in size, and the doctor attributes part of that to laughter yoga, according to Audrey Caputi.

Spinner said she has been into fitness since the early 70s, when a group, which she didn’t want to name, helped her battle an unhealthy weight problem. Thankful for the guidance and support the group provided, Spinner started teaching her class in 2009 after retiring from the corporate world.

“I have an extreme, profound sense of gratitude to be alive,” she said.

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