The History of Laughter Yoga and How I Became Involved

The History of Laughter Yoga and How I Became Involved

Hello there,

Recently I received an enquiry to facilitate a Laughter Yoga session from a primary school teacher of grades 5-6. She went on to ask me to share a few words about how I both became involved in Laughter Yoga and the history of the laughter club movement. It seemed like a good idea to expand a little in a blog post and hopefully this is of interest to you.

The year was 1995 when it all began, the origin of the Laughter Yoga Community Clubs, who practice ‘laughing for no reason’ all around the world. Indian Physician, Dr Madan Kataria was impressed by Norman Cousins’ book Anatomy of an Illness and the research work by Dr Lee Berk on the benefits of laughter to one’s health and wellbeing. Madan decided to field-test the impact of laughter upon himself and others, gathering with four friends in a Mumbai public park.

This happy little group had many bystanders, who quickly joined in and numbered over 50 after a couple of weeks. BUT, around that time it was discovered that either the jokes and humour ran out or became offensive. Dr Kataria went home to ponder if there could be a resolution. Otherwise he felt that trying to laugh together on a regular basis would simply not work long term.

Upon reviewing the research, there was a light-bulb moment! It was around the fact that the body cannot differentiate between pretend and genuine laughter, because both produce the same happy chemistry. Participants were amazed, the make-believe laughter quickly turned into real laughter that was contagious. Realising there were other ways to experience laughter than through humour, the group switched to role-play and other techniques to stimulate the importance of child-like playfulness.

That was 23 years ago, the first laughter club was born and as the saying goes, the rest is history. There are currently thousands of laughter clubs in over 100 countries around the world.

For myself 13 years ago in 2005, I saw people laughing loudly together on TV as a social activity and then heard that ‘the laughter guru’ was coming to Melbourne to present a Laughter Yoga workshop. I went along, met with Dr Kataria and was so impressed by how fantastic I felt, I straight away committed to doing the laughter club training and immediately thereafter started a laughter club.

My personal reasons were that as a young girl, adults seemed serious, stressed, upset and fearful, as if they had lost hope and life was a burden. From that awareness, I unconsciously chose to be young at heart and not let life beat me down. I kept it up as good as I could, to not get stressed out over work and adult issues. Sometimes people said I was like Peter Pan who was youthful, happy and an inspired person, living with faith and hope for the future, enjoying each day, one day at a time. Mind you, now I understand there is more to it than the simplified version of my earlier life, which was quite ungrounded. That was in part replaced as I learnt to stop judging unpleasant feelings and be authentic. Feelings are to be celebrated and not supressed, which is vastly different from the earlier me. Nevertheless, that is the story in a nutshell, as to why I was drawn to Laughter Yoga.

Cheerio for now, Lots of love and laughter, Lynette Mitchell xo

Disclaimer: Information shared here is intended to be supportive and from my personal understanding and experience. Advice given is general and as I am not a medical doctor, take no responsibility for how it is received

Stress, Suggestions and Using Laughter Yoga

Stress, Suggestions and Using Laughter Yoga

What does the word stress bring up for you? Very likely it will be negative because the media influences us that stress is ‘bad’ and we are directed to find relief from it with buying, eating, drinking, holidaying etc. Many people are so accustomed to living in a stressful manner and may not realise that there are ways to combat it. It can be that when we our time is restricted, it is beneficial to feel under pressure and we can achieve that without sending our bodies into a stressed mode. In fact it can be uplifting and energising, rather like self-testing or facing a challenge. Laughter and other things like mindfulness and meditation can help a lot, here’s my take on incorporating Laughter Yoga into your daily routine – Read More

John Mitchell & Vicki at Ferntree Gully Laughter Club

I have this much limitation laugh (which is very little) and this much potential (which is huge), at Ferntree Gully Laughter Club.

John Mitchell and Vicki sharing a favorite laugh, a tiny space between thumb
and finger indicating that little limitation
and next the arms go wide showing how much potential.

Feel the Community Spirit in Melbourne!

AUSTRALIA DAY MARCH 2013

Community spirit injection. Well, our dozen or so band of laughers joined in the March again and it was a beautiful day for it, neither hot nor cold, which meant that we could completely focus on walking and ho, ho-ing all the way to the Domain Gardens, where there were heaps of activities.

I feel the more that we nurture ourselves with the spirit of community and coming together in love, enjoying fun activities, the greater our roots are grounded into the earth.

Hats off to the laughter club members who marched and I feel that I can speak for all of us, it was a completely and utterly uplifting experience. The public of Melbourne were several deep lining the route and some of us high-fived them. Bronwyn counted and got up to 125, what an extraordinary number indeed.

After a little while I got right into the spirit of it and it was doubly joyful to do that. I put my hand or both hands up to give people a ‘high five’ and with that found our eyes connecting and could feel our hearts joining together. People’s faces lit up with that extra close interaction, instead of watching us walk and make noises as we passed.

I am very grateful for the opportunity to be on the inside out looking at so many people and feeling that I made a difference, together with my buddies, demonstrating laughter and light heartedness, bringing it to the awareness of the public that we happily exist in their home town.

The Australia Day People’s March was reported to have over 2000 representatives from community groups including multicultural, sporting and special interest clubs and 4000 public lining the streets watching the March. That is huge, is it not? I feel that there is so much fear and negativity in the world and on this day people take the opportunity to connect in body mind and spirit.

Mahes Karuppiah led the laughter session in the afternoon, here are some pictures that my husband John, my greatest supporter took of us laughing together. I noticed that the crowd of onlookers was far greater than others years and that they joined in with the laughter and breathing exercises without restraint. It was a fantastic session and one can only hope that the positive experience will indeed help to spread the laughter word around the halls of Melbourne and wider.

I would also like to acknowledge the consistent and long time service given by Phillipa Challis, the Founder of Laughter Clubs Victoria Inc. Each Australia Day, Phillipa arrives early at the Domain Gardens, bringing banners and information and staying all day manning the marquis in order to talk with the hoards of people wanting to find out about laughter clubs in Victoria. Thank you Pip.

For those locals who feel that they may be keen to come in next year or any other year after that, let me tell you that there are many and varied activities around the gardens after the March. Especially for young children, there was a marquis of people called ‘Outrageous Workshops’, where the littlies were busy sticking things onto CDs to thread and hang around the necks or to decorate a shade visor for their head.

There were hundreds of old and collectable cars and my husband even made a newspaper pot and potted an Australian native seedling. Wait there’s more, a sheep dog herding sheep, little ponies to pat, ducks, goats and sheep to hand feed.

I loved seeing the Roulettes fly over in formation again at 2pm. There were six of these special planes and OMG they looked as if they came so close that it took my breath away.

James Morrison was playing his trumpet, opera singers were singing, the Ukulele club were Ukuleleying. All in all it was a fabulous, community spirited and fun filled day.

We wearily walked to the railway station and took a train home, being really glad for making the effort to go and do it and I will be back next year, rain, hail or shine.

Come and join me! Please!

Love and Laughter Blessings once again.

xxxx oooo

Belonging, Community Spirit & Australia Day in Melbourne 2012

Laughter yoga blog

Australia Day – Woo Woo – Thursday 26th January

Who lives near Melbourne or in Victoria? Then you will know about heaps of activities that go on in and around the city on Australia Day.

Please spread the word, I felt to share this on my blog because some readers may live overseas, yet have friends in Melbourne. In which case, the more the merrier to join us at 10am near the corner on Bourke and Swanston Streets.

We are group number 58 and you won’t be able to miss our purple and yellow Laughter Clubs Vic t shirts. If you have one please wear it and if not we may have one you can borrow. The march starts with the raising of the flag at 10.30am and lasts about 30 minutes but we need to be there for marshalling at 10am. After the march we will be meeting for community laughter sessions in the park at the Melbourne People’s Day Festival.

After the March at 2.10 pm Laughter Clubs Victoria Inc will be leading a laughter session and there is more information on the Australia Day 2012 page at Laughter Clubs Victoria’s website. It is on the grassed area and note, not on the main stage.

If you would like more information about what’s on in Melbourne. Then Google What’s On In Melbourne! I just did and saw that The Roulettes will be flying overhead at 2pm. The Roulettes are from the Royal Australian Air Force and they will be putting on quite a display. And there are fireworks at night, at midday at The Shrine, an Australia Day 21 Gun Salute, movie marathon at ACMA showing our nation’s rich heritag, Government House is open, even a 5km swim at Middle Brighton Pier, plus you could start the day with breakfast. Everything is covered on this very special day, between breakfast, lunch and right up to the fireworks.

It is wonderful to be part of a nation and community. I recall when I went to see my beautiful daughter Georgina in Vancouver a few years back, we were driving through the mountains to Calgary and happened on a small community which was having its celebrations. There was a march and one person jumped out at me, he was posing for my photo and was a really small, finely built elderly gentleman who loved to dress up as a clown and share fun, love and laughter with his small community.

Isn’t that what life is about? We all make so many contributions, albeit unconsciously to come together and share ourselves with others, sharing the joys, the sorrows, the ups and the downs. Where would we be without family and friends and I believe that all of us, or truthfully, the majority at least, have that sense of belonging.

That belonging can be to ourselves, to immediate family, larger family group, our work and it extends out and out until in reality, we are all connected upon earth. I love that there is so much awareness happening these days with the animal kingdom, the environment and with many overlapping areas, people are growing and evolving, becoming interested and desiring to make a difference as they can.

Regardless of feeling of hopelessness and what is the point of it all that is shoved down our throats and programmed through the predominantly negative media, there is hope, there is a purpose to it all and it starts with one thought, word and deed. It is never too late to start a new beginning. Each day is a new day and with it comes a new start. What was that saying about changing the things that you can and accepting what you cannot. We can change our attitude and how we react to things. We can make a difference in our lives and help uplift the planet, holding in our mind’s eye the ideal, rather than heaping more judgment on what we see and hear. To hold in our heart the ideal of what can be and say ‘Mother Father God, they will not my will be done’  helps us to work with the universe into programming love not fear.

I did not know this was going to happen, felt to write about Australia Day and obviously it touched something in me wanting to be expressed. It is wonderful to be part of something, Laughter Yoga, that sense of believing in a movement that is positive. cherished and world wide. As I said, it is great to belong on many levels and with all that develops a deeper purpose which can help to fill the void and connect us with our heart and soul.

Thanks for listening. Love and Laughter Blessings to You and Yours. xxx