LOL all you want

August 09, 2014 12:00 am | Updated 02:01 am IST - Chennai:

Having your funny bone tickled first thing in the morning can be a great start to your day

The Anna Nagar Tower Park is a flurry of activity even before the crack of dawn. By 7 a.m., most people are wrapping up their morning exercise routine.

In one corner of the park, a yoga session is drawing to a close. A class of 30 odd people lie on their backs, looking up at the clear blue sky and listening to the soft rustling of leaves. They close their eyes, attentive to their breathing, and thankful for the morning silence. They snap out of their reverie, jolted awake by the sound of crackling laughter that only keeps growing louder.

A group of men, in their track suits and shoes, have just commenced a new exercise routine. They stretch their muscles, clap their hands, bend forward, and explode into maddening sound just as they say, ‘ha ha ha’. The men try many poses and stances — they walk on their heels and flap their hands, imitating a penguin; they stick out their tongues, crouch and roar like a lion; they hold on to their ear lobes, doing squats — all the while, the explosive laughter never seems to cease.

A few birds from a tree take flight, but the regulars to the park spare nothing more than a casual glance for the early morning antics of the Anna Nagar laughter club.

“We create quite a racket that people in the building across have threatened to call the police,” laughs 62-year-old Roda Krishnan, who heads the Haddows Park laughter club. “We continue to laugh a little louder because we just want to have fun.”

But these morning sessions of incessant laughter are more than that. Many swear by laughter therapy for the long-term benefits they get out of this exercise routine. “I’m a business man with no tension. My diabetes is under control, my blood pressure is under control and my cholesterol has reduced since I’ve started doing this,” says 53-year-old S. Balakoti, instructor of the Anna Tower laughter club. “People are not too excited about this exercise because they don’t know its value,” says 58-year-old Manohar Bokadia, who heads the Laughter Club at Marina beach.

“There’s no medical literature about laughter and its benefits, it’s a subject that needs more research,” says Dr. Shriraam Mahadevan, a consultant endocrinologist at Apollo Hospital. Without scientific testing, the effectiveness of this therapy is anybody’s guess, but the doctor concedes that group therapy is good.

Laughing in a group not only proves to be therapeutic, it also gives people a chance to socialise. “Imagine sitting and laughing by yourself; people will think you’re nuts! Doing it with a bunch of people makes it an activity,” says Roda. Sometimes, post the morning routine, the members of the Haddows Park laughter club brisk walk their way to Marina beach to join the Marina laughter club for breakfast. “We used to tell jokes at first, now no one has the time, so we just laugh,” says Balakoti.

“Lots of people are too shy to join us and many members get discouraged by their friends who say they are laughing like fools,” says Balakoti. Despite the dwindling number of clubs and its members, these clubs still have a loyal following who swear by it.

Pretty often, people find little things to laugh at during these sessions — the sharing of personal news, comments about social issues or the sound of their own forced laughter, which startles most people who hear it for the first time.

“When you laugh, it makes you happy, it doesn’t really matter what you’re laughing at,” says Roda. The few who meet every morning to start their day with laughter can’t understand why others won’t choose to do the same. A whiff of fresh morning air, a glimpse of the sun through a canopy of trees and the sound of uninhibited laughter – what better way to start a day?

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.