TWIN FALLS • Laughter is healing. Laughter is contagious. And now, “laughter yoga” is sweeping the world.
Mary Martinat, a former physical education instructor, is bringing the health craze to Twin Falls.
Martinat, 76, retired three years ago from a lifetime of teaching. But she soon found herself coasting through her days with no purpose and she didn’t like it.
Then she discovered laughter yoga and discovered a new passion.
“It’s life changing,” she said. “It changes a person’s whole outlook.”
Laughter yoga is fun. It’s lively. But don’t worry: practitioners don’t have to stand on their heads. Laughter yoga combines laughter exercises with yoga breathing, and increases blood flow to the body and brain.
“When you laugh, you change and when you change, the whole world changes around you,” Martinat said, quoting laughter yoga founder Dr. Madan Kataria.
Kataria started the first laughter yoga club in 1995. It has now spread to 65
“Adding laughter to your life will boost self-confidence, promotes compassion and deepens creativity,” said Mary’s daughter, Karen Martinat, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Twin Falls, who specializes in depression, anxiety, and grief and loss issues.
Laughter relieves stress; reduces anxiety, fear and depression; enhances the immune system; improves respiratory and cardiovascular systems; relieves pain; and encourages relaxation of muscles and mind, she said.
“Our world needs this,” said Mary Martinat, who was recently certified as a laughter yoga instructor.
A handful of federal and academic studies suggest laughter yoga results in lower blood pressure and improved mental well-being among participants.
In addition to leading a laughter yoga club in Twin Falls, Martinat is a life coach, who guides people through life transitions.
“So many people aren’t doing what they love to do in life,” she said. “They have lost their purpose and passion.”
Martinat is opening her new wellness business “Laugh to Live” in November.
Jan Mittleider, a retired College of Southern Idaho physical education professor, said Martinat is an inspiration and exemplifies the adage that age is just a
“She is exactly the kind of role model we need at any age,” Mittleider said.
Martinat is opening her business at the Intrinsic Healing Center at 276 Eastland Dr. N. in Twin Falls. She will be sharing office space with her daughter, who is also starting a business called “Faith of the Heart Counseling.”
The two are launching their businesses with an open house at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1. The public is invited.
Martinat’s laughter yoga club meets Friday nights from 6 to 7 beginning Nov. 8 at her office. Meetings are free, but donations are welcome and will benefit a local women’s shelter.
“Aspire to inspire before you expire,” Martinat said, quoting author Eugene Bell Jr.