Seriously, About Laughter Yoga

Seriously, About Laughter Yoga

This blog will be a journey into practicing laughter yoga and examining laughter. Laughter itself is a serious subject, we know surprisingly little about it from a physiological and psychological perspective, nor have we fully examined its use as “medicine,” and these entries will look at laughter from those and other aspects. It is a blog about laughter, however, and will not take itself too seriously.

Left to right-Jim Gordon, NY Laughter Yoga leader, Vishwa Prakash and Laughter Yoga inventor Dr. Madan Kataria

Left to right-Jim Gordon, NY Laughter Yoga leader, Vishwa Prakash and Laughter Yoga inventor Dr. Madan Kataria

We laugh because we can, then
Yes, we laugh and laugh again
You ask of why this may happen?
Whee! Makes joke of now and Zen

*****

The founder of laughter yoga, Dr. Madan Kataria, visited New York City recently, and spoke to fifty laugh aficionados about laughter yoga’s origins and the philosophy guiding his global journey for laughter. His talk was arranged by my laughter yoga teacher, Vishwa Prakash.

Before he even said much beyond hello, Dr. Kataria brought the diverse group together using a laugh routine called One Meter Laugh, which requires nothing more than room to spread your arms and a willingness to laugh “Haa” , “Haaaa” “Haaaaa” the crowd croaked in unison with the doctor as their arms widened until laughter erupted spontaneously at arms fully spread. After the laughter subsided, the change in the air was palpable, people smiled at other, changing from strangers to collaborators enjoying the moment, literally, by making merry.

It is surprisingly easy to do, as laughter yoga clubs around the world show every day, and the benefits are surprisingly far reaching in health matters and psychologically. My web site-
www.laughingataging.com has some information on that, and this blog will raise pertinent points as we proceed.

But Dr. Kataria has a deeper perspective on laughing than perhaps anyone alive and he posed an enjoyable challenge to his new friends seated around him in a semicircle in a dance studio 12 floors above Eighth Avenue. Laugh every day, even if you laugh alone, Dr. Kataria suggested. Its good for your brain, its good for your body and its great for your mind.

Dr Kataria fully acknowledged the challenging aspects of his notion of laughing every day, and offered some very practical ideas to foment the practice. Foremost among his ideas was the idea of simply trying it, for the 40 days some psychologists say humans need to acquire a new habit. (That notion is far from universally accepted, but is a helpful goalpost.)

Here is a link to Dr. Kataria himself on the topic-
http://laughteryoga.org/english/laughteryoga/details/321

I am going to try it. Ho-ho, ha-ha-ha, laughing intentionally each day, using the tips Dr. Kataria offers, as well as what I have already learned through teaching laughter yoga to senior citizens, cancer patients and support staff and ordinary folk here in the Hudson Valley of New York, I will be my own guinea pig, attempting to laugh intentionally and mindfully every day.

Since laughter yoga is not mainstream, and since people read blogs at various times, I am not going to date these entries in the conventional sense, but sprinkle markers through them to help me and any readers keep tracks.

So, today is a first quarter moon, in a week will be one full moon and 42 days after will be another full moon, and over those 42 days your humble narrator will laugh, using techniques he already knows how to do and, hopefully, learning others on the way. Mostly, it’s a matter of simply laughing, alone if need be, with others as often as possible.
My qigong teachers and other wise folk say that expressing intent is very helpful to guiding one’s actions. Thus, let me say, I will fully, loudly and intentionally laugh, laughing spontaneously, laughing loudly and laughing silently, eye will practice laughter yoga. Daily intentional laughter will become as much a habit as coffee, at least, that is the plan.
I am happily contemplating where I will be mentally and physically in 40 days.

So, Dear Reader, please come back often and share my mirth. (You can call me Dear Leader, like they do in North Korea, and hopefully we can get that dictator to notice me as a rival, and thus take up Laughter Yoga, then order his entire country to do it every day. Imagine how the CIA would interpret that)

I’ll let you know my personal laughter quest is going, while interspersing information about what whee as humans have learned, discerned and guessed about the benefits and mysteries of laughter. I cannot pretend I know how I will feel in 42 days, nor the laughing routines I will do to laugh intentionally. However, the first results are as promising as expected, I just did a session lasting some five minutes, and I can say, I feel better now.
*****

Lest you fear you have fallen into the blog of a buffoon with nothing better to do than laugh in the mirror, let me tell you a bit about myself, I am currently helping start a new home wellness business. I am also an in-home volunteer for Hospice of the Hudson Valley, seeking to assist terminally ill folk and their families cope with the intense vagaries of Passing. I am also a certified senior and family mediator and practitioner of the Chinese energy work practice called qigong, (“chee-gong”). Personally, I am a husband, a step father with a daughter I and serve as a “Granddude” to her two sons, part of a lovely extended family. So, I do a lot more than laugh.

Dealing with aging and mortality and daily living raises the familiar theme that I laugh to keep from crying. That is only partly true. In this blog, I am pushing the boundaries, I also laugh because it feels so good and is so good for me. The stress-busting relief of laughter is like a magic tonic, guaranteed to make one feel better.

For those who do not go to my website (laughingataging.com) or are not familiar with laughter yoga, please be aware that laughter yoga is started by intentional laughter, which morphs into spontaneous laughter as one continues laughing. This is because the brain releases serotonin, endorphins and other chemical goodies either way. The brain does not differentiate whether one’s laugh is intentional or spontaneous, the brain simply pumps happy juice when muscles and breath prompt it to do so, under orders from the mind. And our mind is what really makes us laugh.
Right at this time, I can again attest that it works, is working at this very moment,

I went before the mirror and laughed, looked at myself and laughed, for several minutes acted childishly and-or spiritually. Using laughs and silence I imbibed deep full breaths. I laughed and breathed and stretched my body.
And the result? I must confess, eye am grinning as eye write this. I plan to laugh some more.