Laughter For Exercise


Dr. Madan Kataria trains Laughter Yoga Teachers in Finland, 2009
Photo by Nauravainenanu via Wikimedia Commons

Have you laughed today? Adam Navis and Liz Waid look at an exercise that makes people laugh - laughter yoga! They also look at the good effects of laughter.

Transcript


Voice 1  

Thank you for joining us for today’s Spotlight program. Adam Navis.

Voice 2  

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1  

What are these people laughing at? They are not laughing at a joke. They are not laughing at a funny play or television program. Instead, they are laughing for exercise! And they are not alone. In fact, this form of exercise is becoming more and more popular every day! Today’s Spotlight is on this interesting form of exercise - Laughter Yoga.

Voice 2  

Laughter Yoga is based on traditional forms of Yoga. Yoga is a method for bringing strength and calm to a person’s mind and body. It is an ancient form of meditation, or self-examination. People use breathing to try to calm and control their minds.

Voice 1  

But yoga is also a form of strength exercise. People doing yoga smoothly move their bodies into exact positions. Holding these positions requires strength. This also helps people to calm and control their minds.

Voice 2  

Laughter Yoga comes from these same ideas. Laughter Yoga uses breathing exercises and laughter to strengthen the mind and body. For example, people doing laughter yoga perform simple laughter exercises together in a group. While they are laughing, they concentrate on breathing in a particular way. They also move and stretch their bodies.

Voice 1  

Doctor Madan Kataria invented Laughter Yoga. He was a doctor in Mumbai, India. Doctor Kataria believed that people had forgotten how to really laugh. For a long time, he researched laughter. Through his research he made an interesting discovery. The human mind does not know the difference between forced - or false - laughter and real laughter. Forced laughter can lead to a feeling of happiness. And then Doctor Kataria had the idea for a group of people who would laugh together. He told NPR:

Voice 3  

“I told my friends, this is not a laughing matter. It is not something silly. It is a very serious thing that we have forgotten to laugh. Let’s do laughter as a sort of exercise.”

Voice 2  

Doctor Kataria gathered a few of his friends together. They met in a public park in Mumbai.  Doctor Kataria’s friends formed the first Laughter Club. This was in 1995. That small group grew and grew! The idea spread throughout the world. And today there are thousands of laughter yoga clubs all over the world!

Voice 1  

Laughter Club meetings are similar all around the world. People in a club usually perform a series of exercises. They say these exercises are physically useful. But they are also simple and gentle. The exercises include body movement, correct breathing, and of course, laughter! At the beginning of the meeting, people may have to force themselves to laugh. But by the end, everyone is usually laughing in a real way! Each meeting is a little different. But there are common exercises groups may do.

Voice 2  

For example, one Laughter Yoga exercise includes clapping and laughing at the same time. Laughter Yoga often begins with this exercise. People clap with their hands in a set rhythm. The goal in this clapping is to fully touch one hand with the other. So, each finger on one hand fully touches the other finger on the other. And the palms of both hands come completely together. This makes a soft clapping sound.

Voice 1  

At the same time people clap, they say ‘laughing words’ like “ho ho ha ha ha.” These words sound like a person laughing. But there is a particular way to do this. The mouth is half open. And the sound should feel as if it is coming from near the stomach. While making these sounds the person smiles. Members move around the space during this exercise. They look into the eyes of the other people in the meeting. These movements help to build good energy levels in the meeting.

Voice 2  

Laughter Yoga experts say that this beginning exercise produces real physical effects on the body. The exercises help blood to move around the body faster. This makes a person feel better. It also builds energy levels.

Voice 1  

Doctor Kataria claims that laughter is actually a very good form of exercise. He claims that it helps to improve the immune system. This is the system in a person’s body that fights infection. He also claims that Laughter Yoga can lower blood pressure and help lift depression.

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Laughter Yoga experts say that Laughter Yoga helps people deal with the bad things in their lives. They say that a person may go into a Laughter Yoga Club meeting feeling sad, angry, worried, or depressed. But then, during the meetings, people act happy. The experts say that acting happy like this can lead a person to really feel happier. After a time, forced laughter becomes real laughter.

Voice 1  

Laughter Yoga is good for everyone because everyone can laugh. Laughter Yoga experts explain that laughter crosses all barriers. It does not matter how old you are or what sex you are. It does not matter where you are from, what language you speak, or what religion you believe in. It does not matter what abilities or political beliefs you have. Everyone likes to laugh!

Voice 2  

Jenni Murry is a writer for The Daily Mail. She was not sure that Laughter Yoga would work. But she went to a Laughter Club. At first, she did not feel comfortable. She writes,

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“I admit I was bothered - there is nothing real about my ha ha ha, ho ho hos.”

Voice 2  

But she continues. The group did more exercises together. She writes,

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“A strange thing happened. The laughing changes. We do some breathing exercises. Soon we are really laughing. Sometimes at each other. Mostly with each other... My usual pain in the hips and lower back are gone. The next day, when I meet a friend, she says: “Wow! What have you been doing recently? You look good.”

Voice 1  

Laughter is an important part of life. And being happy is an important part of life. Laughter Yoga is one way people can be a little happier. What things do you do to make you feel better? Does it help? How long does the feeling last? You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also comment on Facebook at Facebook.com/spotlightradio.

Voice 2  

The writers of this program were Liz Waid and Adam Navis. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘Laughter For Exercise’.

Voice 1  

You can also get our programs delivered directly to your Android or Apple device through our free official "Spotlight English" app. The sounds of the laughter club comes from recordings of “Laughter Yoga Leader Training! Robert Rivest” and “Step by step laughter yoga with Jacy”. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Have you laughed today? What makes you laugh?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
ManMN3003
said on February 06, 2017

Thank you Spotlight.
In my country, people usually claim “one smile equals 7 bags of tonic.” Yes, laughing makes myself feel more comfortable. It often pushes myself up, forgets all bad things and plans to begin the new one better.
Today I have a sad news, but thank to Spotlight video, I feel more optimistic. I will keep my hopes up and start to plan my life again. I’m sure that I’ll reach my goals in someday.

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on February 07, 2017

I think that laughter is very beneficial to human health.
I always like and try to laugh despite the fact that life has become difficult.
I’m laughing through the written jokes (my friend always read jokes from Mobile Phone) and TV comedy programs.
God bless you

Avatar Spotlight
Dela
said on February 08, 2017

I’m sure people keeping their optimism, sense of humour including the ability to laugh come by life easier, they are more successful in fighting all life difficulties, disasters. At all events, the optimistic mind, mood influence positively human physical just as mental health too.
However, all people are not same characters, some of them may need to learn how to laugh so often as it is possible despite of the occasional life troubles. Surely, we should try to find the any positive stimulation so that we could laugh from heart at least once a day!
Thanks Spotlight team for another excellent topic!
Greetings!