A; description of a new kind of club that is guaranteed to make you laugh.
A club where everybody sits around and laughs? And nobody says anything? No jokes allowed? Everybody laughs even if they don’t feel like laughing? A club that’s spreading around the world? A club that makes everybody feel happy?
The answer to all of the above: YEP! I’m talking about the Laughter Yoga movement. The movement started in Mumbai, India. (Mumbai was Bombay when I was there briefly 60-some years ago.) Dr. Madan Kateria, a physician, started the first Laughter Club on March 13th 1995. It was in a public park with just five people. At first they told jokes but, as usual, the stock of good jokes soon ran out. (This happened at a RV rally we recently went to.) Dr. Kataria says, “Then I thought we should laugh as a group without a reason. I had read that our body does not know the difference between fake and real laughter. I knew that scientific research had found that there are many benefits from laughter. Laughter strengthens the immune system and releases stress.”
Dr. Kateria’s love affair with laughter has spread rapidly. He claims that Laughter Yoga is a new breakthrough method where anyone can laugh for 10 to 15 minutes in a group as a form of exercise. The yoga method of breathing is combined with the laughter. Currently, according to the good doctor, there are over 5,000 laughter clubs in 40 different countries. In Denmark laughter is seen as a major anti-depressant tool and many Danish doctors are participating in laughter clubs.
One of the hard-to-believe aspects of this burgeoning movement is that there are now 15 laughter clubs in Israel where Arabs and Israelis meet and laugh together to promote a peace movement. In our own country, laughter clubs have been formed in many cities and towns. Dr. Kateria now spends most of his time touring the USA helping to form the clubs. He conducts two-day Laughter Yoga Leader Training Courses, publishes an e-mail newsletter, has published a book, “Laugh For No Reason,” and has available through the Internet a CD, DVD, VHS Video and T-shirts. (He undoubtedly laughs all the way to the bank.)
I would be happy to join a Laughter Yoga club if there was one in the Tri-county area. I don’t think one exists – yet. A good place to form such a club might be in our do-next-to-nothing state legislature. Instead of arguing never-endingly, they could divide into small groups of five or six. This should be done so both political parties are part of a group. Then a group leader should start things by not saying anything. He or she just starts laughing. Someone will be sure to ask, “What’s so funny?” When no answer is provided, the laughter will eventually become contagious. Soon everybody will be ha-ha-ha-ing and guffawing for at least 15 minutes. After that, maybe, just maybe, a more congenial and effective legislature would start to do something useful.