Imagine you have a cup of milk in one hand and berries in the other. Take the cup in your left hand and pour the contents into the cup in your right hand. Then shake, shake, shake. With each shake chant “hahaha” “hohoho”. Repeat. This exercise, called the milkshake, is one of many that can be performed in a Laughter Yoga class.
It’s good for young and old, male and female, inter-generational and cross-cultural. There are no limits in terms of who can practice this latest craze – called Laughter Yoga!
I first discovered Laughter Yoga in Mumbai, India where a laughter group forms every morning at 7am just outside the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, in the popular tourist area of Colaba. Within the near distance one can see the Gateway of India, located on the waterfront.
The group of 15 participants welcomed me into their circle of laughter with open arms. Ages 25-91, the common bond between these participants was immediately evident – they loved to laugh.
Pioneered in 1995 by Dr. Madan Kataria in Mumbai, today, Laughter Yoga has become a worldwide phenomenon with more than 6,000 laughter clubs in over 60 countries. Laughter Yoga (Hasyayoga) is a unique exercise routine that employs elements of yogic breathing (pranayama) along with bursts of unconditional, fake laughter. The ‘laughter’ is physical in nature, and is not triggered by humor or comedy.
With Laughter Yoga there are no spinal twists or warrior poses or chaturangas or downward dogs. The participants stand in a circle and mimic the designated leader. With childlike playfulness they initially force laughter which eventually often turns into real and contagious laughter.
Laughter Yoga is based on the scientific observation that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter, and that both provide identical physiological and psychological benefits. Laughter, whether simulated or real, brings more oxygen to the body and brain which results in deep diaphragmatic breathing.
Laughter Yoga is the only technique that allows adults to achieve sustained hearty laughter without involving cognitive thought. It bypasses the intellectual systems that normally put limitations on natural laughter.
Laughter Yoga chapters are available globally. To find a chapter near you and for more information go to www.laughteryoga.org.
According to Dr. Kataria, “When you laugh, you change. And when you change, the whole world changes around you.”
Donna Salle is a freelance travel writer and can be contacted through her website at www.TravelsWithHeart.com.
Source = Donna Salle, Travels with Heart