Sunday, April 11, 2010

Learn to laugh, laugh to live

"Laughing with others is more powerful than laughing alone. Sharing laughter is one of the most effective tools for keeping relationships fresh, exciting, vital and resilient with joy. When we share laughter, it increases happiness and intimacy by binding us together," say members of Kuvempu Laughter Club.
Ha, Ha, Ha… Ho, Ho, Ho… Hee, Hee, Hee… Are you wondering what this lot of homosapiens are upto? A common enough sight that we come across in our city parks daily, either early morning or late evenings. A hectic life-style or loneliness may make us forget to laugh. We laugh when we find that everything looks rosy and bright … smiles everywhere, for laughter is contagious. Who really knows? May be it releases some chemicals in the brain. Perhaps that is why, people having discovered this secret, are gathering everywhere for laughter therapy classes. Clubs, seminars, workshops are popping up to help people put a smile on their face and lower their blood pressures at the same time.
In today’s paradoxical society, considered to be civilized, do we need to be taught to laugh, when it is a natural human instinct? A stoic face is considered a sort of mastery over human emotions even at the cost of suppressing a smile.
Though a laugh lasts only for a brief moment, it makes everyone happy, making them forget everything in that moment, even the most persistent worry and the hurting pain. It is said that a good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the Doctor’s book. Society zipping the fast lane has robbed us of the opportunity to laugh naturally, thereby creating a need to induce laughter artificially.
This is where the 'Laughter Clubs' come in. They teach us to laugh by creating humorous occasions and performing funny antics, apart from narrating jokes. One such club in the city is the Kuvempunagar Laughter Club which holds ‘laughter’ classes in a Park.

When SOM contacted P.S. Rajarathnam, the Laughter Club Trainer, he said, "Laughter is indeed the best medicine for all. A good laugh is like internal jogging. One minute of hearty laugh equals 45 minutes of therapeutic relaxation. We practice laughing in a group because it inspires everyone to laugh along with others, as most of us switch off our laughter as we grow old, feeling that our laughs may be inappropriate and not accepted by those around us."
"A smile a day keeps the doctor away, so our aim is to put smile back on people's faces. Laughing even has health benefits. After a good belly laugh we feel better as it boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, helps in getting good sleep and even tones up stomach muscles! It even helps stave off heart disease and prevent a heart attack," adds Rajarathnam, a retired General Manager of BHEL, who started this Club on April 3rd, 2003. Inspired by a doctor in Mumbai who started the first Laughter Club in the country, Rajarathnam started the Kuvemunagar Laughter Club with the assistance of Subbalakshmi, a Laughter Trainer from Bangalore. The club has more than 45 members. The classes are held free of cost and there is no age limit for members to enroll.
The specially designed classes are based on Pranayama, Laughter Yoga (Haasya Yoga), yoga-breathing and laughter exercises that involves breathing techniques, relaxation, meditation and stretching ex-ercises. After performing these simple laughter exercises, they walk around clapping hands shouting "Ho..Ho..Ho.. Ha…Ha..Ha" followed by "Hee..Hee…Hee” in unison. This releases tension and relaxes their bodies. One of the central ideas behind laughter therapy is behaving like a child, laughing for no reason, playing around and inventing fun, just for the sake of a good laugh.
Speaking to SOM some members of the Club joyously reported: "We feel very happy to come and spend time here. We share our sorrows and happiness and spend time together with lot of fun. We don’t want to miss classes even for a day and we never miss a chance to visit this place, even when it is raining. We do a complete body exercise which gives us immense relief. If we were to do the same exercises at home, family members would mock us, whereas here we feel comfortable to do these exercises along with others."
70 plus, still an enthusiast

Most of the members who attend this laughter class are over 50 years of age and some of them are more than even 70 years. In spite of their age they attend the classes regularly with lot of enthusiasm and involve themselves in all the exercises.

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