To date, there are dozens of world laughter organisations and movements, and all of them share the same mission to spread laughter to the world. But why laughter?
In 1995, a man named Dr. Kataria from Bombay, India came up with the idea of laughter clubs after years of observing that his patients' immune systems improved dramatically after they laughed. His laughter therapy techniques are based on Hasya Yoga. It has been proven that laughter has a positive impact on virtually every system of the body!
It all started with Dr Kataria, who found out about the effects of mirthful laughter on the human mind and body. In March 1995, instead of publishing an article on laughter for the health magazine he edited, Dr Kataria went to a public park at Lokhandwala Complex, Andheri, in Mumbai and spoke to people about starting a Laughter Club. The remarkable thing about this idea was that he conceived it at 4 a.m. in the morning and within 3 hours a plan was put into action.
Dr Kataria started speaking to people who were taking their morning walk about the idea of starting a laughter club. Initially people laughed at the idea and thought Dr Kataria was kidding or had gone crazy. People laughed at the concept and ridiculed the idea, but when the health benefits were explained, many got interested and the attendance started growing.
In the beginning, all the participants stood in a circle and someone would be invited to come to the centre and crack a joke or tell a humorous anecdote. People enjoyed the fun and felt nice after 10-20 minutes of laughter every morning. But soon stale jokes, jokes targeted at a particular community, hurtful jokes and dirty jokes began to come up after the good jokes were exhausted, which embarrassed many members, especially the women. It was evident that if they wanted to laugh every day they could not depend on someone telling jokes 365 days a year. Jokes were banned and it was decided that the club members would laugh without them.
Most members found that it was difficult to laugh for no reason, with the biggest hurdles preventing one from laughing being inhibition and shyness. Dr Kataria devised a method by laughing together in a large group, with its effectiveness raised by contagion with more people. Each laughing session starts with a deep breathing exercise similar to ‘Pranayam?in Yoga, which helps in increasing the vital capacity of the lungs and helps in producing laughter.
After deep breathing everybody starts chanting Ho-Ho, Ha-Ha-Ha, slowly increasing the speed of Ho-Ho, Ha-Ha-Ha until they suddenly burst into hearty laughter by stretching their hands up and looking at each other’s faces. This Ho-Ho, Ha-Ha-Ha exercise is akin to a yogic exercise called ‘Kaphalbhati?where there is a rhythmic movement of the diaphragm and abdominal muscles. It helps to facilitate the lungs in order to initiate laughter.
All the members were also instructed to laugh at the same time, and eye contact was also a key in stimulating natural, uninhibited laughter among the participants.
Over a period of 15 days, a few more types of laughter were created like laughing with the mouth wide open, no-sound laughing, beginning with lips closed and little humming sounds, medium laughter and cocktail laughter. To avoid boredom, a variety of stimulated laughter has been introduced, based on yoga, promoting playfulness among participants. With this infusion of yoga-laughter, the new concept of yogic laughter was introduced to the laughter club, providing the principle of laughing for the Laughter Club International today.
To create awareness of this new yogic technique of Laughter Therapy globally, to help cultivate the spirit of laughter by understanding ways and means of sensible living and putting them in to practice through laughter. To conduct scientific studies and research work as to how laughter can affect the physical, mental, social and spiritual well being of the participants. -- All these ultimately bringing people of various countries together and bring everlasting peace through laughter - the mains aims of an international recognised non-political, non-religious, non-racial, no-cult laughter club today after its evolution from its humble beginnings, and it comes complete with its own world laughter day.