“Fake It Until You Make It”, says Dr. Kataria

By on March 26, 2016
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Hahahaha….. Laughing with no apparent reason seems a little crazy, but this is the concept that laughter yoga is actually founded on. Also known as Hasyayoga, this form of yoga practice is really easy, just perfect for all ages. All you need is to make a little effort to laugh and you’re good to go. It does not need to be spontaneous and real, a forced laugh will do.

Since the practice does not involve use of comedy or humor, you will be faking the laugh at first but it will eventually turn to spontaneous and contagious laughter as you coordinate with other members of the group. It involves eye contact with other practitioners and making playful gestures and movements. In this form of yoga it is believed that the benefits acquire from real laughter is also the same with forced or faked laughter. This is why they are able to come up with their slogan, “Fake it until you make it.”

History

Laughter yoga was developed by Dr. Madan Kataria, an Indian doctor based in Mumbai. He also documented this practice in his book, “Laugh for No Reason.” He conducted research on the amazing benefits of laughter to the mind and body, and was overwhelmed with the findings. As he was a man of action, he started a local laughter group in his area to test the effects of laughter on the body. He started with a few people and involved jokes to make people laugh. But as the time passed the members ran out of wholesome jokes and it became hurtful and discriminating jokes, and that offended some of the members. Dr. Kataria then decided that he needed to find a different approach and so the idea of forced laughing was born.

Laughter yoga was practiced then in open parks usually by older groups of people. Then laughter clubs were opened, and it eventually became Laughter Yoga Clubs. The first laughter yoga club was opened in 1995 in Mumbai with just five people, and then the concept grew and eventually spread to different parts of the world. In the year 2011 there are already 8,000 laughter clubs in 65 countries, and counting.

Benefits

Laughter yoga benefits the person as a whole. It stimulates blood circulation in the brain, oxygenates the body, calms the mind, and relieves stress. The practice still involves the basic yoga breathing techniques. According to research the brain is not able to distinguish the difference between forced and genuine laughter, so in both ways the body is able experience the happy chemistry. Yoga exercise and breathing techniques were also incorporated to the practice to increase its benefits. Laughter yoga is actually a combination of laughter, yoga poses, breathing techniques, stretching, meditation, and playfulness.

How to Do It

Laughter yoga is very simple. You can start by faking a laugh while having eye contact with group mates and making silly and childlike movements. Then the laugh will eventually turn to a genuine and contagious laughter. The practice also involves use of simple stress-releasing yoga exercises, chanting and clapping. Laughter yoga is used as a tool to achieve better health, well-being, and inner peace. The activity can last 20-30 minutes and it can be changed depending on the needs of the group and members.

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