Laughter Club

History of Laughter Yoga and Laughter Clubs

In March 1995 Dr. Madan Kataria, a medical doctor in Mumbai, India was writing and researching an article on laughter ‘Laughter – The Best Medicine’ for a health journal. He discovered several modern scientific studies, which described in depth, the many proven benefits of Laughter on the human mind and body. In particular, Dr. Kataria was impressed by Norman Cousins’ book Anatomy of an Illness and the research work by Dr. Lee Berk. Profoundly inspired and being a man of action, Dr. Kataria immediately decided to field-test the impact of laughter on himself and others.

He discovered modern scientific studies describing the proven benefits of laughter on the human mind and body. He went to a public park with four people to start a Laughter Club. They laughed together to the amusement of bystanders, but the small group quickly grew to more than 50 within a few days. Everybody enjoyed it and felt good for the rest of the day.

After two weeks they hit a snag when the stock of good jokes and stories ran out, and hurtful and naughty jokes started to emerge, and the club nearly closed. Two
offended participants complained that it would be better to discontinue the Club rather than to continue with such jokes. Dr. Kataria asked the Club members to give him just one day to develop a ‘breakthrough’ that would resolve the crisis.

That night, Dr. Kataria reviewed his research and finally found the answer he was looking for: Our body cannot differentiate between pretend and genuine laughter.  Both produced the same ‘Happy Chemistry’.

The next morning, he explained this to the group and asked them to try to act out laughter with him, for one minute.  Amid scepticism they agreed to try. The results were amazing. For some, the make-believe laughter quickly turned into real laughter – this was contagious and in no time others followed. Soon the group was laughing like never before. The hearty laughter that followed persisted for almost ten minutes.

Dr. Kataria developed laughter exercises that included role-play, as he had been involved with amateur theatre in his university training days. This breakthrough was the birth of Laughter Yoga. As Yoga practitioners, Dr. Kataria and his wife Madhuri saw similarities between laughter and Pranayama exercises and incorporated it with the laughter. The result was Laughter Yoga, a blend of yogic deep breathing, stretching and laughter exercises that cultivate child-like playfulness.

Hence, we have Laughter Yoga and Laughter Clubs all around the world and they are generally free, to help support Dr Kataria’s motto ‘World peace through
laughter’

Read more about the history and Lynette’s involvement in her blog

This video is an example of a laughter session, similar to what we do in our laughter club.