Where there's laughter, pain usually subsides. Sharing a good chuckle with a loved one or co-worker not only feels good, it is good for you. Studies have shown that laughing boosts your immune system, reduces stress and stimulates blood circulation. And that's where a new form of laughter therapy comes in.

Let’s face it, though: Most adults don’t experience much spontaneous laughter on a daily basis. So a growing number of people are turning to hasya yoga, a form of laughter therapy, to “fake it until they make it.”

Hasya, or laughter yoga, began in 1995 with an Indian medical doctor named Madan Kataria. The unusual discipline, which uses playful activities and guided breathing exercises to trigger laughter, since has spread to more than 50 countries, with about 200 clubs in the U.S. alone.

For people with chronic pain, laughter’s physiological benefits can serve as a powerful form of pain management, says Sebastien Gendry, director of the American School of Laughter Yoga in Pasadena, Calif. “When you laugh, you release endorphins. Those are feel-good hormones, as well as natural painkillers,” Gendry says.

Janet Wilson, a registered nurse in Flagstaff, Ariz., who has fibromyalgia, became a certified laughter leader in 2005 after learning about the World Laughter Tour. Wilson now runs laughter clubs in Flagstaff. “I have had chronic pain for 12 years. I love leading laughter sessions because it elevates my mood and provides pain relief that lasts for about two hours,” she says.

To try a taste of laughter yoga, Gendry suggests pretending to take a “laughter pill,” building from a simulated giggle to a belly-shaking guffaw as soon as it “hits” your tongue. 

Or consider joining a laughter club. Because laughter is contagious, enjoying a few rounds of pretend chortling with others may inspire a serious fit of the actual giggles.

To find information about laughter exercises or joining a laughter club, log on to www.worldlaughtertour.com  or www.laughteryoga.org.