Laughter Yoga

Laughter Yoga is an ancient yoga and meditative practice. Laughing Buddha comes to mind with his big belly and big smile! We also see extended laughter with powerful exhales in Kundalini Yoga.

The modern version of Laughter Yoga was created by Dr. Madan Kataria, M.D., a Western-trained Indian medical doctor from Mumbai, India. In the early 1990’s he had a private medical practice and 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. Most of the research came from the United States at that time inspired by the 1979 Anatomy of an Illness by Norman Cousins, the work of Dr. Patch Adams and Dr.Lee Berk. Now there is scientific research coming from all around the globe that proves the benefits of laughter for our emotional, physical and mental health. Laughter truly is the best medicine. No prescription needed. Available to us at all times. And free!

Back to the story. In the middle of the night in 1995, Dr. K. came up with the idea of creating Laughter Yoga Clubs so people could gather and laugh for enhanced health. Unlike many of us who have brilliant ideas in the middle of the night, he actually stayed up all night waiting for the sun to come up so he could try out his idea in a near his home. This is a big part of why he is such an inspirational teacher. He acted and made it happen instead of just talking about it or dreaming about it. He really did it!

At first they used jokes to get things rolling, but the jokes became offensive and Dr. Kataria shared his concern with his lovely wife, Madhuri, a yoga teacher of over twenty years. She is a heroine in this story because she suggested that he skip the jokes and just go to laughter and yogic breathing! You see, our bodies cannot tell the difference between laughing for no reason or laughing at a joke. We are hard-wired to release endorphins and all kinds of “feel good hormones” when we laugh — whether there is a joke or not. Simulated laughter works miracles for us — mind, body, emotions and spirit. And, as we all know, laughter is contagious. So, the group continued to grow and now Laughter Yoga is practiced by hundreds of thousands of people every day all over the world. Now there are more than 6,000 Laughter Yoga Clubs in more than 67 countries. Laughter Yoga has been featured on CNN, The Discovery Channel, National Geographic, Oprah and Dancing with the Stars and in the international press around the world.

By integrating the ancient practice of deep yoga breathing with stretches, clapping, laughter exercises and childlike playfulness Madan and Madhuri created Laughter Yoga. They got started with a small group of five, so I figured I could start small too. So, immediately upon doing my Laughter Yoga Leader Training in early 2006 with Suzanne Bersbach, I created the first Laughter Yoga Club in Sonoma County, California, and have integrated Laughter Yoga into all aspects of my full-time private practice ever since.

My extensive skills and diverse background as a professional counselor, yoga teacher, team-building specialist, presenter at professional conferences, eldercare specialist, hospice counselor, management training specialist and certifed leadership coach, enable me to find lots of opportunities to customize Laughter Yoga to meet your needs in a variety of settings.

I am a full-time Laughter Yoga Teacher and I can adapt LY sessions for small and large groups or individuals, standing, seated or even rolling on the floor. The secret to laughter yoga’s success is that humans are hardwired with powerful natural reactions to extended hearty laughter and the benefits are felt immediately. Instant gratification. YES! We feel safe with others when we are laughing as part of the tribe of humanity.

Dr. Kataria certified me to train others to be Laughter Yoga Leaders. He is very excited with my work and featured me on the front page of his international website in July, 2009, for my extensive work with physicians and nurses in medical settings. Videos featuring Dr.K, abound on this website where you will see me practicing with him and other Laughter Yoga Teachers. Please visit my Laughter Yoga Leader Training page for more information about studying with me to become an effective and fun Laughter Yoga Leader.



Why I Laugh by Dalai Lama

I am a Professional Laugher. I have been confronted with many difficulties throughout the course of my life, and my country is going through a critical period. But I laugh often, and my laughter is contagious. When people ask me how I find the strength to laugh now, I reply that I am a professional laugher. Laughing is a characteristic of the Tibetans, who are different in this from the Japanese or the Indians. They are very cheerful, like the Italians, rather than a little reserved, like the Germans or the English.

My cheerfulness also comes from my family. I come from a small village, not a big city, and our way of life is more jovial. We are always amusing ourselves, teasing each other, joking. It’s our habit.

To that is added, as I often say, the responsibility of being realistic. Of course problems are there. But thinking only of the negative aspect doesn’t help to find solutions and it destroys peace of mind. Everything, though, is relative. You can see the positive side of even the worst tragedies if you adopt a holistic perspective. If you take the negative as absolute and definitive, however, you increase your worries and anxiety, whereas by broadening the way you look at a problem you understand what is bad about it, but you accept it. This attitude comes to me, from my practice and from Buddhist philosophy, which help me enormously . . .

Unfortunately, so long as things are going well, we think we can get along by ourselves. However, as our situation and health decline, we soon realize how wrong we were. That is when we understand who really helps us. To prepare ourselves for such a time, by making true friends who are useful when we need them most, we must cultivate altruism.

As for me, I always want more friends. I love smiles, and my wish is to see more smiles, real smiles, for there are many kinds—sarcastic, artificial, or diplomatic.

Full Article: The Dalai Lama on Laughter and Compassion