On Laughter Yoga.
It is March 1995, a warm day in Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, India. Madan Kataria, a physician inspired by scientific readings on the medical benefits of laughter decides to try to do something so the adults will laugh more than 10 times a day. The statistics left no doubts: children can laugh even 300 times a day and we, the adult ones, get too serious and stressed about out life and laugh on average 30 times less. The doctor with just 4 people in a park starts tellling jokes and they have fun at it. They keep meeting every day and bringing their firends. However, after a week, the groups experiences a crisis: they ran out of jokes that were funny for everybody and they tell the controversial ones: the political ones, the sexual and nasty ones. Some people enjoy them whereas some feel offended and start to argue. The doctor asks them for patience and one more chance: let’s meet tomorrow!
He finds then in a scientific book a breakthrough information: our body does not see a difference between the consciously produced „fake” laughter and the spontanous, natural one. On the following day he comes out with a new proposal: let’s try to start with the fake laughter as a group exercise! Thanks to the presence of other participants and focus on eye contact while laughing, the laughter becomes contagious. They start developing new exercices which help in maintaining the joyful atmosphere of laughter. These simple exercises help millions of people all over the world laugh when they want with completely unconditional laughter. It appeared that we do not need a sense of humour, jokes or come to laugh, thanks to easy exercises millions of children, adults and seniors practice this laughter workout globally. We dont need a sense of humour – it develops as an effect of a regular practice of laughter.
Laughter Yoga is something more than just a set of laughter exercises. This is a method respected globally which blends universal laughter exercises with breathing exercises of yoga and relaxations. Since 1995 there world has observed an enormous development of Laughter Yoga movement. Now it is estimated by the Laughter Yoga International that the method is present in 72 countries with 6,000 social laughter clubs. One of them is the Warsaw Laughter Club that has been established by me in a park called Pole Mokotowskie which is the first from the now present and the biggest laughter club in Poland (link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/317525818384861/?fref=ts) . Additionally, the Laughter Yoga is practiced in many schools and univeristies, companies, including the biggest global corporations, senior centers or help groups for cancer patients.
At the Laughter Yoga sessions we laugh in group, keeping the eye contact and creating climate of childlike playfulness, after few moments we pass from the artificial laughter to the natural one. No words can describe the joy that we can generate at the Laughter Yoga sessions, but this film from my Laughter Club in Warsaw can give you a glimpse of it.
The Laughter Yoga bases on a scientific theory that our body does not see a difference between the simulated laughter and the spontanous one, in both cases we boost endorphines, energy and good mood. I like to say to the skeptics afraid of „fake” laughter that we all know that climbing on an artificial climbing wall is good for health and helps to build up capacity for „real” climbing in the rocks. It is the same with the laughter, the one exercised during the sessions helps us to laugh more frequently and more deeply from the belly in the everyday situations.
The Laughter Yoga teachers recommend a regular practice of laughter. In order that we experience a permanent change in our attitude towards life, it is advised by dr Kataria that we laugh at least 10 minutes a day for at least 40 days. It is not possible to experience this just watching comedies or rejoicing meeting with friends. Nonetheless, even a single Laughter Yoga workshop can help to reduce stress and change the life perspective for a more joyful ones. At the Laughter Yoga workshops in a safe environement we learn to laugh aloud and deeply from the diaphram as well as silently not to disturb neighbours or other people. We are deeply convicted that laughter is to serious thing to just leave it to a chance, that’s why we laugh thanks to our commitment.
The Laughter Yoga is a practice independent from religion and politics – we love all of them and are to laugh with everybody who will respect us. For me and many people in the world, Laughter Yoga is a great path of personal development. We keep on with the practice independently from the mood and external conditions. Thus we nurture our own inner spirits of laughter, serving others with our deeply rooted joy and peace. Doctor Kataria says that the spirituality of Laughter Yoga is the simplest one: we make our best to raise our own spirits to help other raise their spirits. It is not a coincidence that this practice was born in India, a country that for milleniums has been reminding the world about importance of keeping place for spirituality in our everyday life. As laughter is the universal language of joy and love, Laugther Yoga is now a global movement for the world peace.
The benefits of Laughter Yoga:
- provides us with endorphines and improves instantly our mood and well-being
- it enhances the immune system and helps in healing processes of our body and mind
- it increases creative and efficiency providing fresh oxygen, fun and relaxation
- laughter is the greatest social connector as thank to our joyful spirit that this practice can give us, it is easy to attract new friends
- it helps us to go through challenges with laughter, it opens our hearts and minds for new solutions
Laughter session – recommendations and preconditions
The laughter session usually takes around 45 – 60 minutes followed by additional 15 minutes for relaxation. At longer workshops I offer group plays, more breathing exercises and longer relaxation plus group exercises of joy coaching that can help in transition for a more joyful lifestyle. I can offer Laughter Yoga experience even in 15 minutes short version during conference breaks as well as full day of joy and laughter experiences. At the beginning of evert workshop I make a short introduction to the practice – it is strongly recommended that especialy the newcomers come at time to learn the rules of this practice.
It is not necessary to bring yoga mats, this is a dynamic practice in movement, the mats can be only useful at the last relaxation part. However, there is always option of a relaxation in a seated position. It is advised to wear comfortable clothes in which you can feel free to move. It is open for people of all ages and usually permitted to come with kids over 7 years old except advanced trainings. When it comes to health conditions, people suffering from serious heart or breath diseases, hernia are advised not to practice. People with serious psychological problems that make their contact with reality difficult are discouraged form the practice. If you have doubts whether your state of health can allow you to benefit from this practicie, please consult your physician asking if he permits you to take part in aerobic exercises using prolonged periods of laughter. And one more thing: it is yoga, so we only practice it with sober people not under influence of any king of psychoactive drugs.
You are welcome to see short movies from my Laughter Yoga sessions at Youtube (link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5bu_HkMp3O8Ker3EyjNjEQ) or official Youtube channel of dr Madan Kataria (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtvrLvk2adMw0R4qoUbfChA) .
You can also find lots of useful information and resources on the international Laughter Yoga site (link: www.laughteryoga.org).