Yesterday I facilitated a Laughtersession for a group of 25 people from a mental/ healthcare institution. I did this as my alterego, Yamuna. I started the session with explaining how Laughter Yoga started with (Yamuna’s uncle) Dr. Madan Kataria from Mumbai India in 1995. As a physisian he believes in the benefits of laughter for your health (both physiological and psychological), so he decided in 1995 to start a laughterclub with some friends in a park in Mumbai. After a few get togethers, they ran out of jokes, so they didn’t have something to laugh about. Then, they decided they would laugh anyway for no reason at all. And they felt equally good after the session.
What Dr. Madan and his friends discovered was, that by starting to laugh for no reason in a group, soon it turned into real laughter. So the saying goes: FAKE IT, FAKE IT, till you MAKE IT!
Scientific research confirms that the body doesn’t know the difference between real and fake laughter. So when you start to laugh for no reason, your body will send signals to your brain, telling your brain you’re in a good mood, and your brain will tell your system to start producing the hormones endorphine and dopamine (which make you feel good) and reduce your stresshormones cortisol and adrenaline. Also laughter will increase vascular bood flow and oxygenation of the blood, increase memory and learning and improve alertness & creativity.
Now, over 600 laughterclubs are active around the world and they have developed many playful laughterexercises. Many of them can be found on the internet and youtube.
The most fun part of facilitating this group for me was, that I invite people to leave their comfortzone and join me in very playful exercises. The best moment was, when I asked the question of “Who knows a nice way of greeting people?”. One woman spontaneously blurted out “touching noses”, and immediately reacted shy; “oops, did I actually say that?” So we invented a “touching noses” laughter exercise on the spot and the whole group joined in. Watching the people having fun and joining in, making the woman’s ‘blurt’ an important contribution to the group, made me feel totally happy. After Yamuna was gone, Annemarie reflected with the group on their experience. They felt less inhibited, more open, more space, energized, relaxed, closer connected to eachother and tired in a good (after exercise) way.
When I ask myself why this moment gives my the greatest pleasure, it is because it touches my personal mission, which is (for now…it’s an ongoing proces):
To inspire people to leave their comfortzone (where learning & growth takes place) by sharing my experience & knowledge and by creating playful & meaningful learningexperiences.
With playful greetings,
Annemarie Steen (& Yamuna)
PS If you want to laugh with me…send me a message and we’ll set up a meeting (on- or offline)