A few years ago we received our monthly Spiritual Cinema Circle movie DVD that contained a documentary about Laughter Yoga. What could be better than sharing laughter with others! But there were no clubs within five hours of Marquette. Drat! Then on March 18th, 2010, I read an article titled, “Laughter yoga enriches body, soul, mind.” That did it! On March 27th and 28th I trained to be a Laughter Yoga leader in a town just west of Toronto where I used to live. What a great weekend!
Laughter Yoga is an exercise routine that has great health and social benefits!
It’s the brainchild of Dr. Madan Kataria, a physician in Mumbai, India, who launched the first Laughter Club at a park in 1995. Today it has become a worldwide phenomenon with more than 6,000 Laughter Clubs in about 60 countries. The goal of Laughter Yoga is to bring good health, joy and world peace through the universal language of laughter.
Anyone can laugh for no reason, without relying on humor, jokes or comedy. The concept of Laughter Yoga is based on the fact that your body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter (in the same way as you will feel fear watching a very scary movie.) You get the same physiological and psychological benefits. Stress is turned off for a while.
A Laughter Yoga class generally will begin with some stretching, breathing, and clapping as warm-ups. Laughter is simulated as a body based exercise in a group, using eye contact and childlike playfulness that soon turns into real, contagious laughter. One exercise might be imagining that you have won the lottery. Another might be mental floss. Yep, you pull out an imaginary piece of floss and clean out your brain. The exercises are interspersed with breathing and stretching pauses. The class ends with a quiet meditative time, which can be done sitting or lying down. You learn a way to fake laughter so you can turn off the blues all by yourself.
There have been many very positive comments from participants:
“I am normally in constant pain, but I forgot to hurt!” “I haven’t felt this good in years.” “I haven’t laughed this much in years!” “It feels so good to laugh.” A good happy laugh heals on so many levels.
On the documentary about Laughter Yoga clubs, a progressive company was highlighted. Each morning for the first fifteen minutes of the workday, everyone got together to laugh. Productivity improved much more than the cost of those fifteen minutes.
Imagine if we could unite in peace and laughter. Imagine if all the prisons had laughter clubs. What transformations would take place? Imagine if all the seniors in retirement homes had laughter groups. What would they be stimulated to do? There are so many ways and places to share laughter.
“When you laugh—you change. When you change, the whole world changes.
Dr. Mandin Kataria, Founder, Laughter Clubs
At the time of this writing, Eeva Miller facilitated Laughter Yoga at Brookridge Heights Assisted Living, monthly classes in Marquette, and for groups that make a donation to charity. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 906.250.5169. For more information about Laughter Yoga, go to www.laughteryoga.org.
Excerpted with permission from the Winter 2010-2011 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2010, Intuitive Learning Creation. All rights reserved.