Every Friday morning, Karin Wisenden can be found at a church hall in Penarth having a jolly good laugh. 

But this is no ordinary get together with friends. Karin is a regular member of a laughter class.

"I am completely hooked," says Karin, who is retired and lives in the town and has been attending the sessions for the past year.

Penarth Times: Karen Wisenden says the laughter yoga classes have helped her to laugh again.Karen Wisenden says the laughter yoga classes have helped her to laugh again. (Image: Shivangi Pandey, Newsquest)

"I came here to deal with a personal bereavement and I'd forgotten how to laugh. So, it just reminds me that I can laugh and it's really easy.

"It just makes me feel so much better. I haven't missed a class since I joined the club."

The class was set up by Jon Beckelman Evans in 2020. Jon a laughter yoga leader and founder of the Laughter Yoga Club in Penarth. 

"At the start of the pandemic, all my work was cancelled," he says. 

Penarth Times: Jon Beckelman-Evans founded the Penarth Laughter Yoga Club.Jon Beckelman-Evans founded the Penarth Laughter Yoga Club. (Image: Shivangi Pandey, Newsquest)

"My friend recommended that I try a laughter yoga club online and initially I was pretty skeptical but I gave it a try and it was a revelation for me.

"I enjoyed it. I realised that it was something that people locally needed as especially with the rise in the cost of living prices, people are worried and stressed."

The session starts with a meet and greet, where everyone comes together and takes a seat.

Then Jon kicks off the session with deep breaths and tells everyone to relax their bodies.

Gradually, it includes people laughing and opening up to every person in the room with just a simple smile and some exercises which turn into bouts of laughter. 

Penarth Times: Margaret Taylor attends regular laughter classes in Penarth.Margaret Taylor attends regular laughter classes in Penarth. (Image: Shivangi Pandey, Newsquest)

Margaret Taylor started attending the sessions this year.

"These sessions do lift you," she says. "I know some people might think it's silly but laughing helps your immune system and improves your health, so it helps me."

The concept of laughing yoga was started by a medical doctor in India called Dr Madan Kataria, according to Jon.

"He had noticed that those patients in his ward who laughed a lot in the hospital got better quickly and had better medical outcomes than the patients who didn't laugh," says Jon.

"So, he started a laughter club with 3-4 members in the park and they made each other laugh by telling funny stories. But when they ran out of jokes one day, Dr Kataria had his breakthrough moment where he realised we can choose to laugh even without jokes. Therefore, it is called intentional laughter."

He says there are no judgements at the session. It is welcoming and people can laugh and meet new people to boost their energy levels.

A session costs £3 per person every Friday from 11:30-12:30 at the All Saints Church Lesser Hall in Victoria Square, Penarth.