I’m writing this newsletter at 35,000 feet as I fly across the Tasman Sea on my way back from the first ever New Zealand Laughter Yoga Conference. The Kiwis, by their own admission, are a “rather conservative lot”, and many jokes have been told by us Aussies about their main industry, sheep. As I was a guest, I was very aware of this point. I also reminded myself that Laughter Yoga is not about jokes and being funny, it’s about being fun. This is an important point to remember always in our Laughter Clubs also.
The Conference started with a laughter session by one of their Laughter Leaders from Christchurch, Hannah Airey. As there were many people there who were being exposed to Laughter Yoga for the first time, she handled the situation beautifully, until we were all asked to lie on our backs on the floor and put our arms and legs in the air. Hannah then said “this one is especially for you Merv”. They all started to baa like sheep and laugh for no reason. It was at that point that I thought to myself…BRING IT ON ! ! ! (ha ha ha)
An experience beyond belief
The next two days were filled with a once in a lifetime, and life changing experiences. I know this, because this is what people were telling me during, and after the Conference, whether they were new to Laughter Yoga or not. We laughed and we played and we sang and we danced for two whole days. It was exhausting, exhilarating, inspiring, challenging, rejuvenating, and any other emotion that ends with an “ing”
What I learned was…
I can’t even start to tell you here the new information that I learned so I won’t. The GRRREAT news is that the whole Conference was captured on video for others to see. This video will be for sale shortly and the proceeds will assist the ongoing development of Laughter Yoga in New Zealand. If you buy one and don’t enjoy it, or learn at least one new thing, then I will personally give you your money back.
I now have more friends…and I’m not talking Facebook
It was a wonderful experience to meet Amazon from Japan again, as well as some other Kiwis who have come to our Conference before. But more importantly, it was the experience of making new friends, that weren’t of the imaginary ones like those on Facebook. These were real people connecting in real time with others of similar interests. My congratulations and gratitude for their hard work and hospitality, goes out to Lynda and John Andrews. You both epitomize everything that is Laughter Yoga.
The 2013 Australian Laughter Yoga Conference
The next Conference I’ll be heading off to, is the All American Conference at the end of August. Full details can be found at http://2013.laughteryogaamerica.com. But for many of you, and closer to home, the next chance that you have to get some of what I’ve just had, is the 2013 Australian Laughter Yoga Conference. This will be held at The Vibe Hotel in Sydney on the 19th and 20th October. Registrations will be opening shortly, and an agenda of presenters is being assembled. So put these dates in your diary and watch out for the next newsletter for full details.
Why not put this claim to the test? If it is true then you should be able to feel those benefits yourself. This is a big deal and we invite you to take this experiment seriously. You could discover something of great value for you.
You need to physically engage for at least 10 minutes. Here you can watch any of the videos in the playlist below and simply do as instructed. In doubt just mirror what you see. All videos will play in sequence by default. If you experience any technical challenge with the playlist refresh your page.
Only participate at your level of physical comfort. If all you can do without pain or discomfort is a mild chuckle with no other movements, then that’s where you’re at and that’s OK. Everything in due time. You will still feel a difference.
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Although laughing as a form of exercise has proven itself to be safe in most instances, individuals with physical or psychological medical histories should definitely consult the appropriate medical health professional for specific guidance prior to using these or any exercise routine. In particular, if you suffer from anything complicated, advanced, acute, severe, unstable or uncontrolled you technically have a ticking bomb waiting to explode inside of you. In doubt, always first ask your doctor before engaging in these or any other physical exercise.
Alternative Therapies the 5th largest growth industry
An article in The Australian newspaper recently said that alternative therapies are among the top five largest growth industries in Australia. It goes on to say that 70% of all Australians use some form of alternative therapy. So what’s happening here? I believe there are two reasons for this The first is that we are sick of our sickness system. If you go to a doctor be aware that they are under extreme pressure to process as many people as quickly as possible. As our health system becomes more commercially focused, doctors and nurses are being driven by Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) rather than care and compassion. Is this their fault? Can they fight it? I don’t believe so. They have fallen victim to us becoming sicker and not accepting responsibility for our own health. As a result of this there is being much research being done on the effectiveness of alternative health options and we are one of these.
Laughter Yoga and Deakin University Research
As mentioned previously, the Deakin University School of Psychology is about to do a Laughter Yoga Psychological Research Study that begins next month. I ask that all Melbourne Laughter Yogis make an effort to attend their clubs throughout July to support this very important work. I also ask that if you know someone who you haven’t seen for a while, give them a call and ask them back. When complete we will have official psychological documentation which I’m sure will be positive and beneficial to our cause.
In search of a participating business also
To date we still don’t have a business locked in to assist with the study also. They would need to be willing to have their staff attend a laughter session every morning for the month of July for half an hour and then complete a survey once a week. It’s free to the business and a GRRREAT marketing and PR opportunity. If anyone has some close contacts I’d appreciate a call on 0408 552269.
Laughter Health and Life and Conference a huge success
I have just returned from presenting at the Laughter, Health, and Loving Life Conference on the Gold Coast that was put together by our very own Kathy Popplewell. I am in awe and inspired by people who are half my age doing twice as much as me to promote our cause. Her twelve month around Australia tour to train 1000 Laughter Yoga Leaders is underway and you can follow her on www.vibrance.com.au Well done Kathy and I’m sure that all of the LY folks will support you as you pass through their town.
Upcoming Australian Conference
The very next Conference that we have scheduled is the 7th Australasian Laughter Yoga Conference. For full details visit the LYOZ website at www.laughteryoga-australia.org.
Laughter Yoga Training Opportunities
And finally there is an updated list of all of the upcoming trainings on the LYOZ website also. So if it’s a half day workshop, a two day leader training, or a five day teacher training it’s all there for you. And if it’s not, let us know and we’ll make every effort to make it happen.
Yes. Laughter is contraindicated for people suffering from advanced (bleeding) piles and hemorrhoids or any bleeding tendencies in any part of the body, any acute symptoms of cough, any kind of hernia, cold and fever, epilepsy, heart disease with angina pain, incontinence of urine, persistent cough with breathlessness, severe backache, uncontrolled high blood pressure, within three months of a major surgery, and way too many other conditions to list here. If in doubt first ask your doctor if it’s OK for you to laugh.
No. Laughter is about breathing, and breathing is not a contraindication to life. Research carried out in December 2013 in a Kidney Dialysis Hospital unit in Melbourne, Australia, showed that a 30-minute Laughter Yoga session every two days for 30 days had no adverse effect on patients with extreme health conditions.
It depends. Are you using force or being gentle with yourself and respectful of your own limitations?
Laughter is universally well tolerated, but caution is advised in patients with certain concerning health conditions.
A literary review of 67 years of research on laughter published in the British Medical Journal in December 2013 reviewed what modern science knows about its beneficial and harmful effects. They found one case of death by laughter. She was 50, schizophrenic, and was referred for polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (she had a history of heart problems) after Ziprasidone therapy (an antipsychotic drug known to increase mortality in people with dementia-related psychosis). She had intense, sustained laughter one day after hearing a joke, collapsed and could not be revived. For the record, this is why pathological laughter can be dangerous. People with these symptoms just can’t control themselves and fall into excess, or distress.
More valid concerns were raised in that particular review against hearty and “intense side-splitting laughter” that can adversely impact certain people with pre-existing health conditions. The conclusion however was unavoidable and predictable: “The benefit-harm balance of laughter is probably favorable.”
“The incidence of heart attack while shoveling snow, for persons with impaired heart function, is alarmingly high,” says Dr. William Fry, professor emeritus at Stanford University, a man who has studied the health aspects of laughter for decades. “But unexpectedly and against logic, the incidence of heart attacks suffered while laughing is surprisingly low.”
May I suggest you always take the safe approach and avoid extremes of any kind. Intense and forced laughter is neither helpful nor necessary. Beyond a certain point the body stops producing happy hormones and shifts into distress. It is like everything else. You can’t eat too much food even if it is healthy.
Before I suggest a comprehensive list of contraindicated conditions to laughter for those of you who are interested (I can summarize them all in seven words), first consider this: Life is deadly and statistics are formal. Five out of five people do die, eventually.
More seriously, laughing does increase intra-abdominal pressure and I have no doubt that quite a few of the 12,000+ dis-eases known today genuinely don’t do well at all with it, but listing them all would take far too much time. Whatever you would say will always be either too much or not enough, and focusing on what could harm people would be counter-productive in the context of what we are trying to achieve in laughter programs.
Here is how to make laughter safe and foolproof:
Follow your heart, but take your brain with you. If you have any kind of concerning medical condition don’t ask for trouble. Always get the advice of your doctor first before starting this or any other exercise regime. If you chose to ignore this advice, you are doing so at your own risk;
Enjoy everything you do. Respect your own limitations, and take it very easy. A smile is as good as a laugh if that is all that is available to you today;
No new pain! Avoid extremes. Stop immediately if anything becomes painful or uncomfortable, even to the slightest degree. When in doubt always ask a medical professional before engaging in laughter or any other kind of exercise regime. If you suffer from anythingcomplicated, advanced, acute, severe, unstable or uncontrolled, then you should get written permission from your doctor before doing anything, including laughing.
If you laugh more, drink more water. Laughing dehydrates. It may not be much, but considering that many people are chronically dehydrated, sometimes even a little can be too much. If you experience some heaviness in the head or mild to moderate headaches after laughter, that could be a warning sign. Always listen to your body. Be gentle next time…and drink more water!
This article details how people around the world are spreading its message of joy, health and world peace through laughter in a variety of projects that include Laughter Clubs, World Laughter Day, Universities of Joy, and more.
Laughter Clubs are local gatherings of people who just want to laugh as a form of exercise, and choose to feel good about themselves and the world they live in with other like-minded individuals.
While they do not belong to any tradition in particular, they are a primary door of expression for people who practice Laughter Yoga.
What is unique about them is that they are all fully independent, not-for-profit, non-political, non-religious and non competitive community-based associations of diverse people who choose to be happy. Everyone is welcome. Each club defines its own meeting frequency. They do not report to anybody, are not told what to do, and do not pay royalties.
Laughter Clubs are not limited by language differences. Laughter has no accent.
People come together to Laughter Clubs with a common purpose that provides social support. It’s a form of social glue. They provide a sense of belonging and of being involved in a worthwhile cause.
Because we have a common method and shared values, laughter club leaders and members form a global network to share ideas and to give each other encouragement and inspiration. Through this network the method improves continuously. New exercises are always being invented and we are discovering necessary cultural adaptations, too.
Laughter Clubs promote observances of World Laughter Day (the first Sunday in May).
They are intended to be a free, social, community-based initiative of motivated individuals.
In 2011 there are an estimated 6,000 Laughter Clubs in over 70 countries on five continents, and there is a rapid growth in countries of Asia, Africa and South America. Click here to find a Laughter Yoga Club near you.
Laughter Clubs are a primary force on the ground for peace. The first Laughter Clubs in the Middle East for example were created in 2005 in the countries of two archenemies: Israel and Iran. Today there are several dozens of Laughter Clubs in each of these countries.
Here is what happened in Iran. You may remember the riots and massive bloodshed in Teheran that followed a contested election in 2009. What did Teheran’s City Council do in an desperate effort to lighten up the mood in the city when everything else had failed? They sponsored more Laughter Clubs, and it worked.
There are now several Laughter Clubs in countries formerly at war, with "tight" regimes or experiencing marked political and social tension:
The idea to dedicate one day of the year to laughter as the expression of a desire for world peace came to Dr. Kataria in 1998.
The first “World Laughter Day” gathering took place in Mumbai, India, on 11th of January, 1998. 12,000 members from local and international Laughter Clubs joined together in a mega laughter session.
“HAPPY-DEMIC” was the first World Laughter Day gathering outside India. It took place on 9th January 2000 In Copenhagen, Denmark and more than 10,000 people gathered on Town Hall Square. The event went into the Guinness Book of World records.
This is a worthy goal with an interesting story that shows how powerful the vision of one man can be.
For years Dr. Kataria (featured in the image on the right) has been dreaming of five "Universities of Joy," one on each continent. These are not "academic" Universities but rather educational centers that will provide all the necessary knowledge and comprehension of the rapidly spreading concept of Laughter Yoga.
The thing is, he has not just been dreaming about it. He has let everybody know about his dream, wrote about it, shared his vision; over, and over, and then over again with unrelenting enthusiasm.
For years many kept telling him that this was a pointless pursuit because such a project would cost a phenomenal amount of human resources and money that he didn’t have – until 2009, that is.
In 2009 a wealthy Indian man died and donated enough money to get this project started with the first center in India. Land was bought, an architect hired, and the first steps of the construction started.
Inspired, an American philanthropist offered to help and is currently looking for an appropriate piece of land in North America.
This project is still on Indian time and much remains to be done before anything is completed. When will that be? The answer is the same as with the timing for World Peace: in due time.
When that will be is not Dr. Kataria’s concern. All he does is focus on what he can do in the present moment to the best of his abilities in a spirit of selfless service. For the rest he trusts that what is meant to happen will happen when it’s supposed to for the highest good of all involved.
We have all much to learn from such an attitude.
Click here to read more about the "Universities of Joy.
Dream 2: SS Shanti, a mobile university on a ship
This is another of Dr Kataria’s dream: a huge ship called SS Shanti (Peace Boat). It will sail around the world, connecting different people from different cultures through Laughter. It will have an on-board museum and host Laughter festivals and training programs.
Dream 3: Cultural exchange program
The idea behind the cultural exchange program is to give people an opportunity to understand each other’s culture, values and build a strong network of like-minded people who believe in love, laughter, joy, kindness, compassion and generosity. The implementation of this program is still in its infancy and done at this stage by people who either already know one another, or pro-actively contact local Laughter Club Leaders in areas they want to visit.
Dream 4: Laughter townships (Hasya Nagari)
The Laughter Yoga Foundation plans (there is no set timeline) to create community living townships of happy people. Its vision is to have a ‘Laughter City’ on the outskirts of each and every major city of the world.
From dream to reality: private initiatives that contribute to a better world
Dreaming does not stop laughter enthusiasts from being active in their community.
There is not enough space here to list all the private initiatives that people around the world have undertaken on a volunteer basis to bring laughter to others in need and help build a better world. Societal change is happening, and it’s happening from the ground up. Here are a few videos that illustrate a small portion of what is being done:
Well with around seven weeks to go until the events in August it’s time to get serious. Ask yourself the following question. How far do I want to go with Laughter Yoga? How much a part of my life is it going to be? How much will my life be enhanced by going to the next level? Am I overstating this? Maybe not. Sebastien Gendry, the founder of the American School of Laughter Yoga, said in New Mexico last year. “After eight years I thought I knew it all…I was only scratching the surface” And I agree.
Training with Dr Kataria
I have completed and/or been involved with the Good Doctor’s 5 day training on four or five occasions now. Every time my own life, along with the folks who attend, have been changed in some way. To be present with this amazing man who has been travelling the world establishing a worldwide social movement for the last 16 years is amazing. Why not come along and learn about the spirituality of Laughter Yoga from the man who knows.
Pre Conference Leader Training
I would rate Sebastien Gentry from Los Angeles as number 2 in the rankings of people who have an intricate knowledge of Laughter Yoga…just behind the Good Doctor. Having spent the last five years as a full time Laughter Yoga trainer, and established the American School of Laughter Yoga, his passion and knowledge is unsurpassed. Even if you’ve done leader training before I would highly recommend doing it again with Sebastien. I can guarantee you that you won’t be disappointed. More information about Sebastien can be found athttp://www.laughteryogaamerica.com/.
Post Conference Business Training
People get opportunities to present a laughter session to a variety of groups for a variety of reasons. They will often be confused about how much if anything to charge, how to get more gigs, how to know what to ask the client before they do the work etc. With this in mind and using my extensive business knowledge over more that 35 years I have put together a 1 day business training course. This course will give you tools and hints and tips to be able to position and then present your self to businesses to enable you to get more work for more money more often.
The 6th Australasian Conference
The Conference itself allows us to share and brainstorm ideas with folks from all over Australia and overseas. Always interactive it gives us all the opportunity to discuss ways of promoting the movement. Having just spoken to the Good Doctor this morning I can now confirm that there will be some new and exciting news about Laughter Yoga Australia that will be launched at the Conference. Ya wooden wanna miss it ! ! ! (ha ha ha).
The All American Conference
Then just one month after all of our events there is the All American Conference that this year is being held in San Diego. As the Australian dollar is strong at present if anyone would like to pick up a cheap air ticket and join me that would be GRRREAT.
Brenda Crook paws the air as she stands laughing with eyes wide open, her tongue out and a red foam ball pinching her nose. About 10 other clown-nosed people surround her and mimic the same “Lion Yoga Pose.” The image seems absurd, but Crook, 34, needs a little silliness in her life. She is battling breast cancer at Cancer Treatment Centers of America at the Western Regional Medical Center in Goodyear. She rarely gets to laugh freely. The CTCA is using a new type of therapy to help its patients: laughter.
Love took a backseat to laughter in one corner of Kolkata, India on Valentine’s Day. Almost 600 men and women from various parts of West Bengal made it happen. The group of teenaged to nonagenarian members of 48 laughing clubs in Bengal were taking part in the fifth annual laugh fest of the Laughing Academy of Eastern India. Continue reading →
New Delhi, India: A training camp for the National Cadet Corps (NCC) organized by the Jamia Milia Islamia University in New Delhi recently incorporated Laughter Yoga in their daily exercise routine. There were about 200 participants of mixed gender, aged 12-21. A 1h laughter session was held every morning starting at 6.30am for 10 days. Continue reading →