They walk around greeting each other, handshaking, with resounding “Ho Ho’s” and “Ha Ha’s”. Very soon, what often starts out as fake laughter turns real.
The unique concept of Laughter Yoga and Laughter Club is the brain child of Dr. Madan Kataria, a physician from Mumbai, India, and his wife Madhuri Kataria. It does not require knowledge of asanas, no cracking of jokes — just plain and simple laughing.
Dr. Kataria believes that laughter is one of the best defenses against stress. He claims that “Twenty minutes of hearty laughter is equivalent to 10 minutes on an exercise bike.” Laughing fosters improved cardiovascular health and reduced blood pressure. Scientific studies show that laughter boosts our body’s oxygen and energy levels and also boosts levels of immune cells that attack cancer, infection and virus. Laughter releases endorphins, a natural pain killer that is responsible for the ‘runner’s high’. Those who run laughter clubs claim that laughter yoga sessions stimulate the lymphatic system and boost our immune system, and can reduce levels of stress poisons in our bodies by 50% or more within an hour.
Children laugh a lot; adults, however, need a stimuli to start laughing — which is why laughter clubs have been cropping up.
In a Feb. 10, 2008 Philippine Star article, laughter yoga has come to Manila. Elvie Estavillo, a businesswoman and mother of three, is starting laughter yoga in the Philippines and hopes to start the very first laughter club in the country soon. Elvie was diagnosed in 2000 with cysts in the breast and cervix but attributes “my healing to laughter–of course, with God’s help. But I was healed.”
Personally, I reserve judgement on the veracity of the healing claims of laughter yoga. But whatever benefits laughing brings can do no harm. At the very least, it helps one start out the day bright, with plenty of positive energy and without a doubt, laughter is definitely a de-stresser. Maybe there is indeed some truth to the title of a joke section in one of my favorite, long-time magazines, Reader’s Digest: LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE.
Want some idea of what laughter yoga is about? Watch this CNN video, thanks to Dr. Kataria’s YouTube channel.