Laugh your way to good health

Dr. Madan Kataria, founder of Laughter Yoga International.   | Photo Credit: Arranged Pic

A good hearty laugh is a real stress-buster as it relaxes muscles, burns calories and generates endorphins – natural pain relieving hormones.

Everyone laughed at him when Mumbai-based Dr. Madan Kataria started a laughter club in a park at Andheri (West) in Mumbai with five members to laugh away to health after getting convinced on the outcome of research on plus points of laughing.

A general physician by practice, he left his lucrative career and opted to take up a full-time career to propagate laughing as a therapy along with his yoga therapist-wife Madhuri. Having felt that except research on laughter as a therapy, in real life no one takes it seriously and laughs, he started the club with five of his friends on March 13, 1995.

A decade and half later, Dr. Kataria has come a long way. He is acquiring 50 acres in Bangalore to set up world’s first laughter university to impart courses and train more people to spread laughter as a therapy. Talking on the genesis of the movement, he said initially the members of the club founded by him shared jokes and had a hearty laugh. As they ran out of jokes, they started sharing non-vegetarian, Sardarji jokes and funny anecdotes. The membership swelled to 50 in a week. They realised their mistake soon and stopped sharing dirty jokes. “We thought there is nothing more to laugh as we realised that without any genuine joke also we should have fake laughter. We started getting real laughter when we looked at each other,” he told The Hindu on Sunday.

Dr. Kataria, who is known as ‘Guru of Giggling’ after authoring several books on emotions and health, set up Laughter Yoga International (LYI) in 1999 to popularise ‘hasya yoga.’ Laughter yoga aims to promote childlike elements – make a person playful – to have loads of fun and understand the language to laugh. LYI is today spread over 70 countries. Dr. Kataria says laughing is more beneficial if it lasts for 10 to 15 minutes like aerobic exercise. Laughing for two to three seconds will not bring any change in physiology. He says regular laughing exercises results in deep breathing and relaxation of muscles leading to more oxygen intake, improved immunity and better respiratory system.

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Printable version | Aug 6, 2021 12:28:24 AM |

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