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1/5/2012 6:03:00 AM
Laughing your way to fitness
SUZANNE ADAMS/Miner
After nearly 30 minutes of laughing, Kingman’s Laughter Yoga Club has still got the giggles.
SUZANNE ADAMS/Miner

After nearly 30 minutes of laughing, Kingman’s Laughter Yoga Club has still got the giggles.

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter


The club's activities are based off of Dr. Madan Kataria's theory that laughter is sometimes the best medicine. Kataria, also known as the merry medicine man from India and the guru of giggling, is a physician and created the first Laughter Club in 1995 in Mumbai, India.

According to Kataria's book "Laugh for No Reason," the idea to create Laughter Clubs came to him while he was writing a paper for a medical journal on how laughter benefits both the mind and the body.

Kataria cites several medical studies in his book that state that laughter can reduce stress, boost the immune system, relieve pain, increase energy, help with depression and high blood pressure. It is also cathartic.

But in order to get all of these benefits, people have to laugh continually for about 15 to 20 minutes a day, according Kataria. Most people get a few giggles in during the day but not nearly enough to make a difference.

Kataria created the Laughter Clubs to get more laughter into people's lives. The first few people he approached about the idea did indeed laugh, but they also thought he was nuts.

Through trial and error, Kataria finally created a program that combined Yoga and laughter, and kept people chuckling and guffawing for 15 to 20 minutes or more in a safe environment without using a constant stream of jokes. The idea quickly caught on and now there are more than 5,000 Laughter Clubs across the world.

Ameccua first learned of Laughter Yoga through a TV documentary that featured Kataria.

"I was looking for a way for people to express themselves, to better understand their emotions, so they wouldn't hurt so much any more," she said. "I felt this was something that was really worth advancing."

The first image that pops into many people's minds when they hear the term Laughing Yoga is someone twisted up in knots, standing on one foot and laughing hysterically.

It's not that kind of Yoga, Ameccua said. The practice uses Yoga's deep breathing techniques to calm and relax the body and get back to that child-like era where you would laugh like crazy at just about anything.

But spontaneous laughter can be hard to do. Luckily, according to Kataria, the body doesn't know the difference between laughter because something is hilariously funny and fake laughter.

So the clubs use a series of silly gestures, props, clapping, songs, chants and exercises to help force themselves to laugh.

For example, one exercise has members pretend to be listening to the world's funniest cell phone call. All of the club members stand in a circle, hold an imaginary phone to their ear, make eye contact with other members of the group and laugh. Some will hold the "phone" out to other group members. Others will point to their "phone" and laugh or hold two "phones" to their ears.

The whole idea is to just keep laughing.

There are a few rules to practicing laughing yoga.

First, while faking it till you make it is encouraged, laughing till you physically hurt is not.

You're not supposed to bring new pain to yourself, Ward said.

Second, while laughing is encouraged, talking is not. The only ones allowed to do any talking during the session are the laughing yoga leaders, who direct which exercise is next.

Club members are also asked to respect each other because some of the exercises involve touching another person.

You must also make eye contact with each person in the group as you laugh through the exercises, and in order for the laughter to be effective, it has to be deep and loud, Ameccua said.

She, personally, has seen a number of health benefits from practicing laughing yoga. Her blood pressure and blood sugar has dropped. She has more energy, is more relaxed and is much happier.

Wade said she has had a similar experience. She has also noticed that many people who join the group get a boost in their self confidence as well, because they have to look another person in the eye and laugh, and they know the laughter isn't directed at something they have done.

Ameccua and Wade plan to get their Laughing Yoga teacher's certificate in March so they can teach others how to hold sessions.

"After working all day, it just feels so good. I feel physically better than when I started," said Robin Mosby, a member of the club.

"The first time it's a little hard (to get started laughing), but it grows on you," said Mosby's daughter, Erin Sandoval, who sometimes attends the sessions with her kids.

"It's a benefit to anyone who wants a breath of fresh air," said Ameccua.

The club meets at 5:30 p.m. Mondays at St. Johns United Methodist Church, 1730 Kino Ave. and at 5:30 p.m. Thursdays at Robin Mosby Accounting, 1460 Butler Ave. All are welcome.

For more information on Laughing Yoga or Dr. Kataria visit www.laughteryoga.org. For more information on the Kingman Laughter Yoga Club visit www.gigglestolaughteryoga.com.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Article comment by: R .

So they sit there and force laughter for almost 30 minutes??? They also say there are health benefits to having good sex and having an orgasm. So going through the motions of laughing is no different than faking an orgasm...this is nonsense, you're NOT going to get benefit from it!

Now a club teaching the benefits of sneezing? Ahh, now that I would sign up for...gawd do I love me a good sneeze!


Posted: Friday, January 6, 2012
Article comment by: Bart Simpson

Well I'm certainly laughing my butt off at "this" lunacy.



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