“If heaven exists, to know that there’s laughter, that would be a great thing.” Robin Williams.
Yoga has always intrigued me. Whenever I’d think of it, I’d imagine meditation; and exercise; and relaxation. However, up until recently, there was one dimension I’d never have known to associate with it: laughter.
But it turns out that Laughter Yoga is a real thing! And its existence can be credited to Indian physician, Dr. Madan Kataria.
Since first introducing LY to a small group of people in Mumbai Park back in ’95, Kataria has witnessed the rippling effect it has had throughout the world, with it now being practiced in thousands of laughter clubs in more than fifty countries around the world.
Sounds funny, right? Well its benefits are no laughing matter….
Firstly, LY has been largely thought to boost our brain power. It does this by feeding oxygen into our body and mind as we get the giggles going. An improved mood state follows, which is very important for performance and efficiency, and, “If your mood is good, you’ll do everything well,” claims Kataria.
The unique therapy is also seen to help tackle mental issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Michael Cortina, an American director of outpatient services, has described LY as a “revolutionary” way of dealing with the disorder. In addition, LY is commonly thought to increase energy levels, enable focus, boost endorphins, as well as improve our immune system.
After discovering the above, I was delighted to come across a few Irish helpings of the therapy. One LY centre that really stood out to me was Laughter Yoga Dublin, run by co-directors Niall and Amba.
Motivated by their belief that laughter keeps us ‘fluid and flexible’ instead of rigid in the face of change, the pair decided to bring the therapy to a wider audience a few years ago.
Each of their sessions usually begins with some gentle relaxation and meditation. This way, Niall and Amba encourage you to fully immerse yourself into the experience of laughing without the need of humour. This incites unconditional laughter; that free of humour or any other circumstances which may limit our laughter. Aka, laughing abundantly for no reason….
Brought on by Niall and Amba’s simple warm-up exercises, the laughter begins to flourish around the room. The laughter isn’t long spreading as it is contagious by nature, according to the happy pair.
They then wrap up their sessions with what they call a ‘laughing meditation.’ This is everybody’s opportunity to completely immerse themselves into the experience of only laughing. It is here that the most natural and spontaneous laughter erupts from their visitors.
Overall, ‘LYD is a place where you can let go of the social and personal restrictions brought on by the world,’ according to their website. ‘It’s a place to meet in lightness, laughter and joy. Yoga means to join or to unite and in this case it is to unite with each other through laughter, simply seeing everyone as one whole unity.’
If this isn’t enough to get you along to their classes, you might check out their Facebook page, where they clearly have a long list of chirpy testimonials! The pair also show great involvement with other Irish organisations having, in the past, worked with the national youth mental health group, Headstrong, as well as the Irish Cancer Society.
all the best,