Understanding the New Concept of Laughter Yoga
Dr. Kataria's School of Laughter Yoga

Highlights of Laughter Clubs Movement

Over the past two decades, extensive research has been conducted all over the world and it has been proved that laughter has a positive impact on various systems of the body. Laughter helps to remove the negative effects of STRESS, which the number one killer today. More than 70% of the illness like high blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety, depression, frequent coughs and colds, peptic ulcer, insomnia, allergies, asthma, menstrual difficulties, tension headaches, stomach upsets and even cancer has some relations to stress. Also it has been proved beyond a shadow of doubt that laughter helps to boost our immune system, which is the master key for maintaining good health.

Scientists are convinced that laughter has both preventive and therapeutic value. But these days, where is laughter? It seems that people have forgotten to laugh. According to a study done by Dr. Micheal Titze, a German Psychologist ‘‘in 1950's people used to laugh 18 minutes a day but today we laugh not more than 6 minutes per day despite huge rises in the standard of living’’. Children can laugh upto 300-400 times in a day but when we grow as an adult it comes down to just 15 times a day. Due to overseriousness our sense of humor is also getting sick. The things at which we used to laugh heartily 30 years ago no longer stimulate even the faintest smile. Today we need very hilarious jokes to make us laugh.

Here is a breakthrough! For the first time Dr. Madan Kataria, a Bombay (India) based physician has developed a new technique of thought free group laughter based on yoga (Hasya Yoga). Anyone can participate in  group laughter, everyday for 15-20 minutes, without resorting to jokes. Each laughter session starts with deep breathing and the Ho-Ho, Ha-Ha exercise, followed by a variety of stimulated laughter like hearty laughter, silent laughter, medium laughter, lion laughter, swinging laughter, one meter laughter, cocktail laughter, gradient laughter and many other kinds. Not only we laugh but also practise ways and means of sensible living, in a group, by removing negative emotions like anger, fear jealousy and sadness.

Normally, people believe that you need a good sense of humour to laugh, but the reverse is also true. You try to laugh in a group for no reason, your inhibitions are broken and sense of humour flows. This is exactly the breakthrough we have achieved in our Laughter Clubs. There is sufficient data available from the medical research that even if you pretend laughing or act happiness your body produces happy chemicals. According to a study there was a stage actress who played sad role for about ten years and she fell sick. She lost weight and appetite, she was depressed and had bodyaches. On through investigation there was no abnormality found. Doctors opined that she fell sick because she was acting sadness. Therefore they advised her to do some comic roles. All her symptoms disappear as she switched over to comedy. This clearly indicates that if acting sadness can make you sick, Acting happiness can make you healthy. Idea of laughter clubs based on this philosophy of acting happiness. In other words FAKE IT, FAKE IT, TILL YOU MAKE IT.

The most important factor in laughter club is WILLINGNESS TO LAUGH. Though the members of laughter clubs laugh out voluntarily but it is with full commitment and willingness. If you are not willing to laugh nobody in this world can make you laugh. On the other hand if you are willing to laugh and give yourself permission to laugh nobody can stop you from laughing. Even you don't need any reason to laugh. Laughter in laughter clubs is self induced. Secondly, when you laugh in a group it is very contagious. Very soon the voluntary laugh gets converted into genuine peals of giggles. Moreover, we have brought in many child-like playful techniques which helps to laugh spontaneously.

Yogic laughter exercise is not the SUBSTITUTE for spontaneous laughter which we get throughout the day. As a matter of fact it helps to increase our capacity to laugh during the day. According to another research study if you stretch your laugh muscles on regular basis they will respond more spontaneously whenever there is something amusing. Group laughter exercises help the members to reduce their inhibitions which enables them to laugh more often.

The whole concept of group laughter exercises is based on yoga which produces unique physiological balance in our body by connecting body, mind and spirit. Stimulated laughter exercises have been combined with deep breathing  which is an important part of yoga. Deep breathing helps to stimulate calming branch of our nervous system (Parasympathetic system) by rhythmic movement of the diaphragm and abdominal muscles. Deep breathing helps to increase the net supply of oxygen which is the most important component of our metabolism. According to principles of yoga laughter gives constant massage to our digestive tract and also improves blood supply to all the internal organs. Laughter stimulates blood circulation which helps to transport the nutrients all over the body. And it also strengthens our respiratory apparatus which supplies oxygen to our body.

Human brain has left and right hemispheres. Left side of the brain is analytical, logical, calculative and concerned with learning skills. The capacity of the left side is LIMITED. You can't learn beyond a certain limit. The right side of the brain is concerned with intuition, imagination, inventions, music, art, creativity, meditation and healing. The power of right of the brain is UNLIMITED. One of the easiest way to stimulate right side of the brain is by playfulness. By being playful one can become more creative and imaginative. It will unfold the unlimited potentials of our beings. But the problem with most of us is, we can't be playful all the time and with everybody. Laughter club is an ideal platform which gives an opportunity to be playful in a group without feeling of embarrassment.

The members of laughter clubs not only laugh but also they practice ways and means of sensible living. Through group discussions we identify all the negative factors which stop us from laughing. For example: anger, fear, guilt, jealousy are some of the negative emotions which produce negative feelings in us. In a group effort we try to cultivate positive emotions like love, appreciations, kindness, forgiveness and joy. The motto of laughter club member is not only to make themselves happy but make others happy also. This is known as SPIRIT OF LAUGHTER. The inner spirit of laughter can be cultivated easily in a group effort. As a group the members of laughter clubs inspired and motivate each other. We know so many good things in life but we don't get motivation to practise them. But if we do it in a group it happens in a much easier way.

info: Jan Thygesen Poulsen
tel.: +45 35 38 45 42
e-mail: jan-thygesen-poulsen@mail.tele.dk