The story began in 2011 on the European Hitchhiking Gathering in Bulgaria. Together with a bunch of happy travelers we camped on the wild beach of Kara Dere by the Black Sea. A Finnish girl, Henna, proposed the workshop of laughter yoga. I did not know anything about it. Should I have a mattress, are we going to do crazy poses, asanas? No! We just laughed without a reason while doing some laughter exercises! It is contagious! I ended up rolling all over in laughter and had a broad smile on my face for the rest of the day. I liked this session a lot, though I did not know how much it was the influence of the session itself and how much of other factors: beautiful location, like-minded people, happy warm summer and my inner peace. I somehow forgot about laughter yoga for the next 2 years… Then in 2013 already as a physiotherapist I worked with some breast cancer patients. We went for a camp which included rehabilitation and occupational therapy. As it was the first camp of this kind, organized by Foundation of Active Rehabilitation, me and my university mate Asia had our creativity as the only treatments limit. Apart from the traditional exercises, we wanted to bring some joy into our patients life. Lots of women who went through mastectomy surgery find themselves miserable and very often depressed afterward. We organized lots of games, dances, walks, scream therapy and… laughter session! Somehow I got this sparkle, bright idea! Lets make them laugh! I contacted Henna, watched few youtube videos, and lead the first laughter session as a complete amateur. It was a great success, our ladies loved it!
So now.. what does it have to do with our Indian trip? Medical doctor Madan Kataria is the founder of the technique which originates in India ( by the way, hurray! It was invented exactly 19 years ago, when 5 Indians gathered in a park of Mumbai and bursted out laughing ). There are over 10 000 social laughter clubs here. Indians are such a cheerful society. I decided to write my master dissertation about laughter as a medicine, so this was the perfect opportunity to meet the laughter guru himself! The Laughter Yoga University (!) Headquarters is in Bangalore. I met Dr K and introduced him my idea of measuring life satisfaction, stress level and global body flexibility on LY practitioners.
I was really lucky to hear that the training course is taking place at the end of January, here is Bangalore. I am not a great follower of expensive courses for Westerners and I travel with the tight budget. Nevertheless I understood myself that I want to join, do quite unique research, bring more laughter in my life and spread it in old care centers, breast cancer associations, hospitals and so on. Being honest about my situation I even got a big discount for the course! Now, happily with the Laughter Yoga Trainer Certificate (how ridiculous is it to have the laughter certificate haha) I know that it was the best thing I could do!
To give you a brief idea of what Laughter Yoga is about:
1) It is a unique concept where anyone can laugh for no reason without relying on humor, jokes or comedy.
2) We initiate laughter as an exercise in a group but with eye contact and childlike playfulness, it soon turns into real and contagious laughter.
3) The reason we call it Laughter Yoga is because it combines laughter exercises with yoga breathing. This brings more oxygen to the body and the brain which makes one feel more energetic and healthy.
4) The concept of Laughter Yoga is based on a scientific fact that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter if done with willingness. One gets the same health benefits, whether laughter is real or simulated.
The course itself was very interesting: outstanding vegetarian food, lots of happy people from all over the world (Hungary, Venezuela, South Africa, Mauritius, Bali, Russia, Poland), a big wave of positive energy and a great learning experience.
I did my best for my research, which now are in a package going back Poland, so I can keep on travelling and enjoying incredible India!
Uh, and if you are wondering what Anto was doing meanwhile, he was just resting and nerding around by himself, again using the great hospitality of Romain. Some silence and quiet time was exactly what he needed to process his trip until then.
And then someone unexpected knocked on the door…
PS: Check out the video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uD7U67cRYbI (It was shot during our training, when some German NGO volunteers joined us for their first laughter session)