Laughter and Haha Yoga

Dr. Katana’s laughter club incorporated the Hasya Yoga exercises and became such a big hit in Bombay that it had to divide into several clubs.

Dr. Katana’s laughter club incorporated the Hasya Yoga exercises and became such a big hit in Bombay that it had to divide into several clubs.

by Wayne H. Purdin — 

Scientists have found that laughter decreases the level of immunosuppressive hormones in the blood, while boosting the number of white blood cells that fight free radicals and tumor cells. Laughter also increases serotonin, which produces a natural high, provides a mini-aerobic workout, massages muscles, decreases pain and diverts the mind from problems.

In the mid-1990s, after noticing that his patients got better when they laughed at his jokes, Dr. Madan Katana, of Bombay, India, decided to form a laughter club. At first, the patients and doctor just sat around sharing jokes. But that did not last very long because they soon ran out of good jokes. So Dr. Katana visited his guru for advice and discovered that yogis had developed a branch of yoga called Hasya Yoga that uses laughter to help attain health and peace. It is also jokingly called Haha Yoga.

Dr. Katana’s laughter club incorporated the Hasya Yoga exercises and became such a big hit in Bombay that it had to divide into several clubs. The concept spread to other cities in India, and then to other countries. Today there are more than 1,000 clubs scattered across the globe.

Dr. Steve Wilson, a psychologist in Columbus, Ohio, started a Web site, www.worldlaughtertour.com, that discusses the philosophy of therapeutic laughter and provides contact information for laughter clubs.

Laughter club members report feeling more energy, a greater sense of well-being, optimism, calmness and connectedness. They also find themselves less irritated about little things. Laughter might not cure disease, but it can help in virtually any treatment program.

Norman Cousins, who found laughter helpful while recuperating from a debilitating disease, asserted that “laughter in and of itself cannot cure or prevent cancer, but laughter as part of the full range of positive emotions, including hope, love, faith, strong will to live, determination and purpose, can be a significant and indispensable aspect of the total fight for recovery.”

Haha Yoga should be prescribed for everyone, whether or not they have cancer or other debilitating diseases, because it greatly increases the quality of life. To find the nearest laughter club, call 1-800-669-5233.

 

Wayne H. Purdin is a leukemia survivor who has researched alternative healing modalities for more than two years. He is a Web master and publishes a quarterly newsletter, “The Sun Gazette,” providing philosophical and historical articles for the growing community of sun imbibers. 623-256-9743 or wpurdin@yahoo.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 24, Number 6, December 2005/January 2006.

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