This movement was pioneered by Dr. Madan Kataria – a medical physician – in 1995 in Mumbai, India and since then has spread like wildfire to over 40 countries in the world with more then 5000 laughter clubs. This movement is entirely non-political, non-religious, non-racial, non-threatening, non-competitive. There is really no right way and no wrong way in which to laugh and laughteryoga focuses on bringing forth this joy without any strings.
Dr. Kataria was impressed by the findings of Norman Cousins, a leading journalist in U.S.A. dying from a degenerative disease, who then thru’ the therapeutic use of laughter managed to heal himself completely. Dr. Kataria then tried various methods to arouse laughter within friends & patients and for this initially tried the turn-by-turn telling of jokes. However very soon the stock of good jokes was depleted and rather than abort the experiment, he resorted to certain psycho-social and playful techniques to arouse laughter in a group. Whereas these worked to an extent, it was only when Dr. Kataria stumbled on a branch of yoga called hasya yoga that he was able to obtain deep, lasting belly laughter amongst his participants.
Dr. Kataria discovered that by linking the mind-body-soul together in an integrated manner thru’ yogic breathing and other yogic exercises, he could reach the very souls of the people he laughed with. These exercises are playful and value-based, thus inciting the participant to feel more excited and enthusiastic. The end result is that the inner spirit of laughter is realised, leading to hearty, aerobic belly laughter with all the attendant benefits.
The grey lines between laughing and crying are purposely distorted and thru’ yogic laughter exercises, the participant is encouraged to “forgive & forget” , laugh at human failings and random misfortunes , accept real-life imbalances for what they are and recognise the true value of laughter as a reward for all to enjoy
The brain cannot recognise self-induced laughter from the laughter from external stimuli. What to some may seem like a silly and artificial beginning almost always leads into a natural euphoric state of hearty laughter. The resultant laughter stages are from simulated to stimulated laughter!
Dr. Kataria currently travels extensively around the globe to promote laughter and is a sought-after speaker in world conferences and a popular face in the media. He continues to provoke and spread laughter in the world and undertakes both training and scientific research. More details of his activities are found on his website www.laughteryoga.org