In 1998, Dr. Madan Kataria, a medical doctor from Mumbai, was studying the health benefits of laughter.
He decided to do some tests with his patients.
First, he asked them to stand in a circle and tell jokes or funny stories for ten minutes once a day.
Everyone was laughing and having a good time.
Unfortunately, after two weeks, material ran dry and jokes started turning dark and offensive.
The patients complained and wanted to quit.
Dr. Kataria begged them to stay while he worked on a solution.
Then, Dr. Kataria asked the patients to fake their laughter for one minute. He wanted them to laugh loudly at nothing. Initially, the patients thought it was awkward but then the laughter caught on and very quickly, it became contagious. The patients laughed uncontrollably for ten minutes. Snorts, guffaws and yes, even the occasional fart led to more uproarious laughter.
Dr. Kataria discovered that whether his patients genuinely laughed at something or pretended to laugh at something, their bodies and brains reacted in the same positive way.
Perhaps, more importantly, Dr. Kataria discovered the medical benefits of sustained laughter. Sustained is the key word. It’s hard to laugh continuously for ten minutes (unless, of course, you’re watching one of my comedy specials). However, we can fake our laughter for longer periods of time.
By encouraging participants to prolong their fake laughter to improve their well-being, Dr. Kataria quickly became known as the Guru of Giggling. He named the program of study
Since his first laughter yoga class, Dr. Kataria has trained many other laughter yoga coaches.
Now there are over 10,000 laughter yoga clubs in various countries including: America, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, China and Africa.
Dr. Kataria has also worked with the Indian Army. There are YouTube videos that show these military men who are initially laughing because they have to and then because they want to.
Danny Singh, an English teacher in the UK, uses laughter yoga with his students to help them open up the creative side of their right brain. I also use laughter yoga to warm up my stand-up comedy students.
Laughter yoga is being sought out by businesses, schools and hospitals around the world as participants learn the physical and psychological rewards of a good guffaw
HOW TO DO LAUGHTER YOGA
Obviously, I don’t have to convince you of the medical benefits of laughter. Perhaps you want to sign up for a laughter yoga class in your city? If you do, here are a few exercises that you might expect to see:
A Greeting Laugh
Participants laugh while shaking hands.
A Shy Laugh
Participants greet each other while hiding their faces behind their hands and laughing.
A Cellphone Laugh
Participants laugh uncontrollably while having an imaginary conversation on their phones.
A Gibberish Laugh
Participants make up a language and laugh as they are pretending to share jokes.
The No Money Laugh
Participants pull out their empty pockets and laugh at the fact that they have little or no money.
Whether it’s a shy laugh, a gibberish Laugh or a no money laugh, Dr. Kataria has certainly contributed a lot of laughs and benefits to our well-being.
What started as an experiment with a few patients has blossomed into an exercise that is now practiced by thousands globally every day. In 1998, Dr. Kataria created World Laughter Day,which is celebrated around the world on the first Sunday of every May.
Dr. Kataria says, “In laughter yoga, we don’t laugh because we are happy, we are happy because we laugh.” He adds, “I have not seen anybody dying of laughter, but I know millions who are dying because they are not laughing.”
If there was ever a time that the world needed more laughter, it’s certainly now.
Thank-you, Dr. Kataria.
Laugh Long and Prosper, Folks.
Until next time, I’m Judy Croon.