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.

Presenters At Swift Health & Fitness Summit

Here is the link to a blog for the Swift Health and Fitness Summit which I attended to present a short laughter segment over the lunchtime period. It was very well organised and in this blog I share about three people who presented, a building biologist, psychology coach and mindful movement coach. I bought the book by Nicole Bijlsma and Elizabeth Stewart, which are available online and also a link is there to the movement fellow, Chris Price. Enjoy the blog.

Retirement Villages – When Your Time Comes To Decide, Will This Phase Be A Challenge?

Retirement Villages – When Your Time Comes To Decide, Will This Phase Be A Challenge?

Recently I had the opportunity to present laughter yoga to a very large group of over 170 retirees at the General Meeting for the Willow Lodge Retirement Village at Bangholme. Most of the residents were present because there were burning financial issues which are affecting retirement villages nationally.
I love how being a laughter yoga leader takes me into many differing segments of the community, presenting me with an insider’s perspective, as often I am included in part of the meeting. This helps round off my understanding of current trends and issues amongst the different groups that I present to.
This particular one raises the question about how we feel and cope with the different phases and periods we go through as we live our life. I will share my view, raising questions for you, the reader about your own life, as often we can shut out or be oblivious to our own mortality. We can ignore certain things because we wish to avoid pain or confrontation until the time we are literally forced to face it.
Referring here directly to issues around getting older and wanting to perhaps hang on to things as they are, resist change, remember the past, not wanting to move forward.
This relates to outgrowing our home, downsizing, the difficult decisions to be made about our future as we get older, needing to move on and embrace change.
There is light at the end of the tunnel! There is hope! The first stage may be moving to a smaller house, town house or unit, when we start to slow down, feeling that it is all too much, we can feel a drain on our finances and our physical or psychological energy. Or we may have had our children move out and leave us, as it becomes time for their next phase in life also. Some of us have then as well lost our beloved partner.
The next option or one after the initial downsize can be a retirement village, prior to aged care accommodation, low care and then high care. This is where hope comes in for many happy and active years, living independently in a retirement village of your choice.
This phase of your life can be extremely rewarding, surrounded by people on your own wave length. It can be as you choose it to be, busy with a life filled with many activities and external excursions or it can alternatively be lived restfully. Living simply in a community, quietly and peacefully in the comfort of your own home or space, as you choose.
These years are extremely rich, an opportunity for growth and personal involvement with friends and family visits with less of the tiresome things such as overheads, loneliness and worry. There is a security to be felt in belonging and becoming involved in the retirement village era. It opens you up to new things, a new way of being and lifestyle.
My visit to Willow Lodge at Bangholme was personally gratifying. I was made welcome and Ray, a committee member was great getting totally involved with the demonstrating laughter yoga, mixing in the audience which was lots of fun for everybody. I was asked to help draw the lucky number prizes and then stayed for a cuppa.
My experience was positive and I found the residents to be vibrant, contributing and leading full lives, showing me when it is my time, nothing is to be but rather it will become a period in my life to be welcomed, lived fully and embraced.
After all, we take ourselves with us wherever we go. Whatever internal beliefs and structures that have become our foundations, will renew as we pass through these various life phases and changes.
Therefore I say to you. live each day now fully and positively. Laugh more. Breathe consciously, allow others to help you and do good where you can. Who you are today will go with you tomorrow.
Here is an excellent testimonial from Kay Smart, Secretary of the Willow Lodge Village Residents’ Association Inc.
Dear Lynette,
On behalf of the Willow Lodge Village Residents’ Association we would like to thank you for entertaining our residents at the recent General Residents’ meeting on 21st November 2013.
It was noted that your presentation followed a particularly serious meeting, with residents showing a lot of concern over a current situation affecting all their finances. However, your exercises and approach, certainly made them forget their problems for a while. The pictures that were taken are a testament to their acceptance of your actions. They couldn’t help but laugh which was the point of the exercise.
Thank you once again for coming to our meeting and “lightening” it up.
Regards
Kay Smart
Secretary Willow Lodge Residents’ Association