Walking in the park in Mumbai, New York, California, London, Frankfurt, Rome, Auckland, Sydney, Taipei or Beijing? Don't be surprised to hear chants of Ho Ho - Ha Ha Ha from groups of people doing Laughter Yoga. Are they getting hooked on happiness?
Laughter Yoga is a revolutionary idea – simple and profound. An exercise routine, it is fast sweeping the world and is a complete wellbeing workout. It is the brainchild of Dr. Madan Kataria, an Indian physician from Mumbai who started the first laughter club in a park on 13th March 1995, with just 5 people. Today, it has become a worldwide phenomenon with more than 6000 social laughter clubs in 60 countries like India, USA, Canada, Australia, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Singapore, Malaysia, Iran, Dubai, Bahrain, Israel, Tunisia, Jordan, China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, South Africa, Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam and many more.
Laughter Yoga combines unconditional laughter with yogic breathing (PRANAYAMA).Anyone can laugh for no reason, without relying on humor, jokes or comedy. Laughter is simulated as a body exercise in a group but with eye contact and childlike playfulness, it soon turns into real and contagious laughter.
The concept of Laughter Yoga is based on a scientific fact that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter. One gets the same physiological and psychological benefits.
This innovative concept has been widely accepted all over the world and has been written about in prestigious publications like TIME Magazine, National Geographic, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Daily Telegraph (UK) and many others. Laughter clubs were also featured on Oprah Winfrey Show, BBC, CNN, ZDF (Germany) NHK (Japan), ABC news (USA) and many other TV networks around the world. Several documentaries have also been shown in different languages worldwide. This strong media coverage has helped to spread Laughter Yoga to almost every part of the world with more and more people joining the laughter family.
Laughter Clubs Free for All: Laughter Yoga clubs are social clubs, free for all. There is no membership fee, no forms and no fuss. They are run by volunteers trained as laughter teachers and leaders. These clubs are non-political, non-religious and non-profit run under the aegis of Laughter Clubs International in India and Laughter Yoga International in the rest of the world.
Mission - World Peace: The ultimate objective is to bring good health, joy and world peace through laughter. Laughter is a universal with no language and cultural barriers. Laughter Yoga clubs are fast developing into a worldwide community of like-minded people who believe in unconditional love, laughter and fellowship. Every first Sunday of May is celebrated as World Laughter Day. In the year 2000, nearly 10,000 people laughed together in Copenhagen Denmark to create a Guinness book of records
Life Changing Experience
In India there are thousands of Laughter Yoga clubs that meet every morning in public parks. Club members proudly report that they haven't missed a day in five years or more. They say it makes them happy, healthy and energized - in effect, it has changed their lives.
They are full of positive energy that makes it easy to cope with stress and impossible to be depressed. In fact, the impact of laughter is so profound that many practitioners claim they no longer need anti depressants. The sustained positive emotions keep them coming back for more.
Participants report significant health improvements. Many felt a reduced frequency of respiratory infections like common cold and flu, while others reported depression lifting, chronic medical problems improving or even disappearing. As the word spread, it was obvious that Laughter Yoga was helping people to become healthier.
Scientifically Proven: Clinical research on Laughter Yoga methods conducted at the University of Graz in Austria, Bangalore (India) as well as in the United States has shown that laughter lowers the level of stress hormones (epinephrine, cortisol, etc) in the blood. It fosters a positive and hopeful attitude. One is less likely to succumb to stress and feelings of depression and helplessness if one is able to laugh away the troubles.
Laughter yoga in Schools: In India, Laughter yoga has been introduced in many schools in the cities of Surat, Baroda and Bangalore. That includes 10 minutes of laughter in morning assembly followed by five minutes of laughter session in the classrooms at the beginning and at the end of the day.
This regular practice has shown that the mood and atmosphere changes for the better. Teachers and students are happier with a more positive outlook, communication is improved, less discipline is required and attendance improved. Academic results have shown improvement. Apart from India, there are laughter clubs in Ithaca College in NY and Minnesota that attracts many youngsters and are fast becoming popular.
Laughter Yoga for Business World: Scientific research shows us that laughter can help to resolve many major workplace issues, but until now there has been no reliable and effective system to deliver laughter. Humor was the only tool available, but it is not reliable and seldom leads to continuous hearty laughter.
Laughter Yoga is a breakthrough laughter delivery system that can enable a person to laugh continuously for 15 to 20 minutes with short breaks of yogic breathing. Many Laughter Yoga professionals have presented sessions to business with positive results.
The concept is gaining popularity in companies and corporations in India, Denmark, US and many other countries. It is a powerful force for improving staff performance in the workplace. This was recently confirmed by studies in India and the USA that showed substantial stress reduction and a big increase in staff ability to perform their jobs after just three weeks of laughter sessions.
Laughter Yoga with Seniors: Laughter Yoga is being practiced among seniors in many aged care facilities in Canada, USA, Israel and Europe. There is a distinct rise in life expectancy with improvement in health care and advance in medical technology. In fact, ten years from now the number of older people would have almost doubled.
Faced with age and age related troubles, seniors find their physical and mental faculties on the decline. Since the cognitive abilities in seniors are compromised due to senile dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, they find it difficult to comprehend humor. Therefore, Laughter Yoga is the ideal form of exercise routine that can help them to get complete health benefits of laughter.
Laughter Yoga with Cancer Patients: There are hundreds of people in laughter clubs all over the world who are suffering from cancer, but laughter has brought a new hope into their lives. Many have reported that regular laughter sessions have benefited them tremendously.
Cancer is the next biggest killer after depression and heart problems. Scientific research has proved that Laughter has a profound impact on the immune system which decides the course of survival of cancer patients. Laughter Yoga has been effectively implemented in many cancer hospitals helping the patients and the care givers to cope with the pain and trauma. Swedish Cancer Hospital in Chicago, USA does regular Laughter Yoga while patients are taking chemotherapy.
Laughter Yoga in Prisons: Laughter yoga is being practiced in several prisons in India, Europe and USA. Famous British actor John Cleese visited Mumbai prison in the year 2001 when he was making documentary for BBC on human expressions. He found that laughter had a major impact on the prisoners and the atmosphere in general lightened.
With increase in crime all over the world, the prisons are over burdened with prisoners harboring negative emotions and thoughts. Laughter Yoga is a great method of dissipating these feelings of anger and frustration. Many prisons in India have found Laughter Yoga an effective tool to release their negative emotions. There are positive changes in prisoner attitude and better prisoner-staff relations and reduced violence.
Laughter Yoga with Physically and Mentally Challenged: Laughter Yoga has made a major difference in the lives of many people with physical and mental disabilities in India, Canada, USA and Portugal. In fact, in Bangalore, India, the introduction of Laughter Yoga for the mentally and the physically challenged children has revealed a marked improvement in their motor and expressive skills and control in hyper activeness.
Many such people who come to these sessions in wheel chairs have shown tremendous improvement in their physical condition and mental health.
Laughter Yoga has also been introduced in many blind schools and among the deaf and mute children to help them cope with their disabilities and generate a more positive attitude, which will help them to enhance their wellbeing.