Have you ever noticed how much better your body feels after a good, deep laugh?
So did Dr. Madan Kataria, the man who created laughter yoga.
While writing an article, ‘Laughter – The Best Medicine’ for a health journal, and looking for ways to reduce stress in over-crowded cities in 1995, Dr. Kataria wanted to put the power of laughter to the test.
A man of action, Dr. Kataria headed to a local park in Mumbai, India. He asked people to join him there in laughing to test the physical, emotional and mental benefits. This was the very first laughter club.
On that first day he was joined by 4 people (including his wife, so it’s hard to tell if she had to come along or not) and took turns telling jokes to make each other laugh.
This small group quickly grew to 50 people, all telling jokes and laughing together. Taking turns to stand in the centre of a circle, each member of this first laugh yoga club had a chance to make the other participants crack up.
Feeling happy, stress-free and balanced, they had 2-weeks full of laughs. Then there was a problem…they ran out of jokes!
This is where laughter yoga originated from
The members of Dr Kataria’s new laugh club were concerned by the stale and tired jokes. They also grew frustrated as people started telling crudge, vulgar jokes.
At one point, two of the participants stepped forward and suggested the group be disbanded!
Instead of letting go of his theory about laughter, Dr Kataria decided to try something entirely new. He asked for 24 hours to come up with a solution…and made a life-changing breakthrough.
He realised that it wasn’t the jokes that were making people laugh. It was watching others laugh that was so funny. Laughter was contagious.
Dr Kataria realised that the brain can’t tell the difference between real laughter and fake laughter – they both drive the same happy biochemistry!
Going out on a limb, Dr. Kataria asked the group to pretend to laugh with him for just one minute. Despite their skepticism (you’d probably have some doubts too!) they went along with it.
The results were incredible.
The group quickly moved from simulated laughter to uproarious laughter. Which went on for a full 10 minutes!
Realising he was onto something extraordinary, Dr. Kataria started to create simulated laughing techniques and added guided breathing exercises (also known as ‘pranayama’ exercises).
Focusing on childlike playfulness, Dr. Kataria mixed elements of yoga alongside simple, interactive exercises to help participants relax into the experience.
And just like that – laughter yoga was born.
From humble beginners in a Mumbai park, laughter yoga is now practised in over 8,000 clubs across 80 different countries and brings joy, mindfulness and health benefits to millions of people (including those across the Gold Coast).
Turns out Dr. Kataria’s research was no laughing matter!
What is the connection between laughter and yoga?
Laughter and yoga might not seem like an obvious pairing.
But the magic of their connection is in the breathing.
Laugh yoga doesn’t require any experience, or flexibility or fancy activewear. Anyone who can laugh, can enjoy laughter yoga.
The mixture of breathing activities and laughter exercises is about opening up your diaphragm and exhaling fully. Most of us breathe shallow, upper lung breaths which limits the amount of oxygen in the body.
Your brain requires a steady influx of oxygen to work at full capacity. When your brain has enough oxygen, your body runs at full speed. Laughter yoga promotes an oxygen rich brain that leaves you feeling healthy and vibrant.
This means you get all the physical benefits of laughter with the mind-body benefits of yoga.
When you deepen your breath you calm your body. Your heart rate slows down and your blood is charged with fresh oxygen. From a calm body comes a calm mind because it’s impossible to be physically relaxed but mentally stressed.
That makes your local Gold Coast laugh yoga club the mind-body balance you’ve been missing.
The incredible journey of laughter yoga since 1995
In just 25 short years laughter yoga has exploded in popularity.
Blending ancient wisdom with modern science, laughter yoga is so popular because it is entirely inclusive. You don’t need fancy equipment or an expensive gym membership. You don’t even need to be in a good mood.
Laughter yoga is so effective because it works on a subconscious level. All you have to do is find your local laughter yoga club to get started.
This unique approach to wellness is now available for all Brisbane, Gold Coast and Queensland residents who want a little more laughter, and a lot more enjoyment from life. Click here for our class schedule!