Anita Marocco: Laughter Yoga
Laughter Yoga. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? We discovered the health benefits of this new practice, which uses unconditional laughter to create a positive physiological and psychological change in the body. Anita shared a brief history of Laughter Yoga, led laughter activities and a laughter meditation without any jokes, humor, or comedy – just us and our laughs.
For a bit of history, Anita shared the roots of laughter yoga which I also found on laughteryoga.org:
In the early 90’s an Indian medical Dr. Madan Kataria worked as a registrar in a local hospital in Mumbai, and also wrote papers for medical journals. In his scholarly work he became interested in the growing body of scientific evidence showing that laughter is extremely beneficial to mental and physical health.
Starting with just five people March 13, 1995, at a public park in his neighborhood in Mumbai, India; he launched the first ‘Laughter Club’. These five founding members laughed together in the park that day to the amusement of bystanders; and the small group quickly grew to more than 50 participants, within a few days. In the initial meetings, they stood in a circle with one person in the center, to tell a joke or a funny story. Everybody enjoyed and felt good for the rest of the day. However, after two weeks, the Laughter Club hit a snag. The stock of good jokes and stories ran out, and negative, hurtful and naughty jokes started to emerge. Two offended participants complained that it would be better to discontinue the Club than to continue with such jokes. Dr. Kataria asked the Club members to give him just one day to develop a ‘breakthrough’ that would resolve the crisis.
That night, Dr. Kataria reviewed his research and finally found the answer he was looking for: Our body cannot differentiate between pretend and genuine laughter. Both produced the same ‘Happy Chemistry’. The next morning he explained this to the group, and asked them to try to act out laughter with him, for one minute. Amid skepticism they agreed to try…. The results were amazing. For some, the make believe laughter quickly turned into real laughter – this was contagious and in no time others followed. Soon the group was laughing like never before. The hearty laughter that followed persisted for almost ten minutes. This breakthrough was the birth of Laughter Yoga.
We found this to be true as our congregation was led in laughter yoga exercises. Many people were skeptical and unsure of these activities. As we soon found out all of the information was true. Most of us had to follow the saying of “fake it till you make it” and that’s exactly what we did. Initially many of us started with a fake laugh, but as the activities continued we found ourselves in genuine laughter. It helps that we were also in a group setting. If you ever hit a moment where you felt that you were done laughing or you were going to have to fake it again, you could simply look around the room at someone else and you would begin to genuinely laugh once again.
By the end of the service we were all able to share in genuine laughter and received the benefits of it. I was skeptical myself of all of this but I left convinced of these exercises and a new technique to deal with the stresses of the world. We were relaxed, refreshed, and left with a more positive outlook on our day. Let’s be honest, how many times you you find yourself laughing in a day? We all feel better after a good laugh. So give it a shot. You can even visit Youtube to watch videos of laughter yoga in action, and they just might be the trick to getting the laugh you need. The world is faced with enough stress and troubles. Let’s all try and laugh today to brighten up our little portion of it if even it only lasts for a couple of minutes!