Camera: Nitin Sharma; Shiv Kumar Maurya
Editor: Kunal Mehra
Can you laugh when you are sad? Or stressed? Or anxious? Or depressed?
Of course, the obvious answer would be an emphatic ‘no. A loud naa. A dismissive nahin.
‘Cause laughter is only the byproduct of a rare funny or happy occurence, that may come once every menstrual cycle. Is there, then, such a magic thing that allows people to laugh at their own will, without spending thousands of bucks at a comedian’s gig?
Enter hasya yoga. Which is based on the premise that one doesn’t need a context, or a funny moment to laugh at all. LOL, as funny as it sounds!
For the uninitiated, Hasya yoga was popularised by Dr. Madan Kataria, also called the ‘Guru of Giggling’, who started the practice in 1995. Since then, laughter yoga has become one of India’s most famous exports, with laughter clubs being spread across a 100 countries, across continents like Asia, America, Africa and more.
When Desi D Went For Laughter Yoga
I had heard about hasya yoga, or laughter yoga a long time ago, but had wanted to try it first hand and see if it really worked.
So, off I went, to the venue I was asked to reach at 7:00 AM one morning. The venue was Jalvayu Vihar Community Center, and the man who had invited me was the founder of the Jalvayu Vihar Laughter club, Retd Commodore Ashok Sawhney. And here’s how my session went.
Enjoying a Desi LMAO Technique
The session had all participants from the older generation, But boy, they could laugh 10 times better than me. No kidding!
The session started with warm up exercises like clapping, which was followed by deep breathing. Then came the exercises encouraging participants to indulge in childlike playfulness, and the final was the group laughter exercises.
I had so much fun doing the penguin laugh, but my favourite exercises of all has to be the silent laughter exercise. Which is literally the opposite of LOL.
Laughter yoga, to be honest, was difficult at first, because let’s be frank, when you are a millennial, you are bound by the restrictive idea of what ‘cool’ is and what it isn’t.
And so, I was pretty restrained in the beginning, but to see all the men and women of the laughter club let themselves loose, and go ballistic laughing, made me switch off that ‘cool’ button.
Laughter yoga’s funda is actually pretty simple: That the body apparently doesn’t differentiate whether laughter is real or fake. And that, for your body to actually enjoy the benefits of laughter, you need to laugh for at least 30 minutes.
Disclaimer: I anyway laugh a lot. On most days, I will frighten people with my loud cackle. So, in a way the hasya yoga exercise did come easy to me.
Desi LMAO Travels All Over The World
Today, there's over 6000 laughter clubs spread over 100 countries.
India alone has 10,000 laughter clubs at the moment, according to Dr. Madan Kataria. Which means everyday lakhs of Indians are laughing like this for sure.
But you know what? Looking at the stress, and unhappiness around, I feel that even that many people laughing isn’t enough.
Today, India's happiness index has come down to 140 out of 156 countries. We are now among the most unhappy countries in the world, yes. even more unhappy than Pakistan.
India definitely needs some more laughter. Which means you too, dear reader, need to laugh some more. And don't tell me there's nothing in your life to laugh about, because the one thing I have learnt after trying hasya yoga, is that there’s always something to be happy about, to express gratitude about, and no, it's literally not a joke.
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