Dr Madan Kataria, popularly known as the ‘Guru of Giggling’ and founder of the Laughter Yoga Club visited GIIS Queenstown Campus on February 2, 2015. The event was telecasted live and students from GIIS Tokyo Campus, GIIS Noida Campus and GIIS Kuala Lumpur Campus joined in-through video-conference to interact with him.
About Dr Madan Kataria:
A renowned physician and an ex-registrar of internal medicine and cardiology at the Jaslok hospital in Bombay, Dr Kataria has thousands of followers laughing their way to better health, more happiness and deeper friendships. According to Dr Kataria laughter yoga is a combination of self-induced laughter, breathing and stretching exercise. Dr Kataria is a motivational speaker for organizations all over the world. Being a medical doctor, he is also a corporate consultant for holistic health, stress management, teambuilding, leadership, peak performance and communication skills.
Laughter session with GIIS students:
Rasika Kale (IB Year 1) and Ishaan Mittal (Class 9, IGCSE) welcomed Dr Kataria and introduced him to the audience. Dr Kataria was accompanied on the stage by Mr Rajiv Vasudeva, Country Director GIIS Singapore and a panel of students including Meghna Ray (IB Year1), Raghav Seth (Class 9, IGCSE), Aayushi Deshmukh (Class 9, IGCSE) and Abhiman Yadav (Class 9, IGCSE).
In a zest to try and make everyone laugh, Dr Kataria insisted that he would like to connect with everyone present before starting to interact. “Let’s laugh first”, he said. Dr Kataria demonstrated certain laughter exercises and commanded everyone present in the auditorium to follow. Soon enough the entire auditorium burst into spontaneous spurts of laughter, feeling a little clueless yet thoroughly amused. From performing comical antics to mixing imaginary drinks in hand and jeering out loud, Dr Kataria’s laughter exercise cheered up the students and helped them to loosen up a bit. Dr Kataria’s rejuvenating laughter demonstrations included milk shake laughter, mobile laughter, and hot soup laughter. The whole experience was an exhilarating one especially as it left the students and members of the school management, in peals of belly laughs. “Laughter yoga is a form of exercise. As our body cannot differentiate between real and fake laughter, it incurs the same physiological and biochemical changes in the body. Laughter is a kind of exhalation where you laugh a bit longer so that you exhale a lot of carbon-di-oxide from your lungs and replace it with fresh air that contains oxygen required by the body”, Dr Kataria added.
Towards the end of the event, Mr Vasudeva felicitated Dr Kataria for his insightful speech and explaining the benefits of laughter yoga to the students.
1. What inspired you to create Laughter Yoga? What influenced you to head in this direction of laughter study which was very unconventional at that point?- Arnav Pratap Singh, Class 5, GIIS Noida
I was practicing medicine in Mumbai and also editing a health magazine called ‘My Doctor’. I used to write different articles on systems of health, healing, wellness. In March 1995, I thought of writing an article about laughter as the best medicine. In my research, I found so many benefits and scientific studies about laughter. I thought to myself, laughter is so beneficial and yet no on laughs in Mumbai. People are stressed. The idea to start a laughter club popped up. I went to a public park near my house and started the laughter club with five people by telling jokes in the beginning. After 10 days, we ran out of good jokes. I read in one of my research materials, that even if you act like a happy person, your body cannot differentiate between real happiness and ‘acting-out’ happiness. That gave me the idea that laughter can be a form of exercise. But when we started laughing in a group, we realized that I was infectious that people started laughing just by looking at each other. Then we blended some breathing exercises with laughter exercise. This is a good way to get oxygenation for the body. This is how the concept of laughter yoga came about.
2. Are there any significant cases you remember when laughter yoga drastically saved someone’s life? How effective is laughter yoga? - Muskaan Garg, Class 9, GIIS Queenstown
I really like your name as Muskaan means ‘Smile’. There is no one case. But laughter yoga is practiced in more than 100 countries. Laughter yoga spread without any marketing or advertising because people are benefitting from it. The first benefit is not about sickness or health or any disease. If you laugh it changes your mood within minutes by releasing certain endorphins. If you mood is good you do everything well. It affects all your functioning in life whether social, business or personal. Secondly, health has become the biggest problem in the world. Younger people get heart attacks, Blood Pressure, depression. After coming to the laughter Yoga clubs, many people stopped their anti-depressant medications, high blood pressure medication. Insomnia is another problem that exists. People don’t meet each other and prefer talking on Facebook. Laughter yoga is a great social networking place as people laugh together, bond and create communities. Cancer is another disease. It is said that if you laugh, your cells get more oxygen and if your body cells have more oxygen you cannot fall sick. We do laughter yoga in 16 schools in India every day, and teachers and principals say that the number of sick leaves are much lesser. People practice it in organizations today, I can go on and on, there are many benefits.
3. You have a principle that people who laugh together work together. I would like to know how this principle basically works. Nandan Porak, GIIS Queenstown Campus
Laughter is a great way of communication and creates a group energy. It’s a great team building exercise. Many people have conflicting ideas. You cannot work together if you have a difference of opinion with your coworkers. So I believe that laughter can make you feel good inside, so that we have lesser conflicts with other people. People don’t get stuck when they laugh.
4. How do you feel that laughter is much better than conventional medical treatments? What ways is it better? Vidhi Sharab, GIIS East Coast Campus
As a medical doctor I would not say that laughter can cure illnesses that would be wrong. For any sickness, there is an organic disease because of high blood pressure, because arteries become hard or diabetes due to lack of insulin production. Fifty percent of the disease is the mental reaction to it. How much am I suffering, how long will I suffer and what is going to happen. Laughter yoga can help you reduce the mental stress. That’s why people heal faster when they are not so stressed about what they are suffering from. Laughter creates neuro transmitter like endorphins, dopamine. The most important part of health and healing is the immune system. Studies reveal that laughter increase antibodies that fight diseases in a much better way. Laughter is popular in Japan. In a study, they took a group of people, made them laugh and ran a blood test. The natural killer cells which is a kind of white blood cell that kills cancer cells, were more in number. Hence, I feel laughter can have therapeutic effect on illnesses. But, I don’t want to use laughter to cure sickness, why can’t we laugh before we fall sick. Make your immune system strong and create a positive mind.
5. It is easy to laugh at something that is funny but when one is feeling low it is difficult to even fake a laughter in order to exercise. – Arushi Tiwari, IB Year 1, GIIS Queenstown Campus
This is the difference between laughing through yoga and laughing through entertainment or when something is funny. There is a theory called ‘motion creates emotion’. If you see sad and depressed people, they walk slowly, their body movements are slower. If your mind is depressed then your body also becomes depressed. There is a link between mind and the body but it’s not just one way link, it’s a two way link between mind and body. If you are sad, don’t sit idle, go for a run or a jog. If you keep your body active, the body sends bio-feedback to the brain that then releases chemicals, creates neurotransmitters that changes your mood. How can I laugh when I am not happy? This is do-able with laughter yoga. In laughter yoga we don’t laugh because we are happy, we are happy because we laugh.
6. While reading up, I came across one of your most popular quotes – “3 types of stress!!! Physical stress, mental stress, Emotional stress. One exercise-Laughter Yoga”. Can you explain as to how one solution can tackle each problem individually? – Ayushi
Physical stress comes if you work more than your physical capacity, for example if you are working extra hour. Laughter Yoga exercises increase the oxygenation and removes all the toxic wastes. Carbon-di-oxide is a waste in the body. Laughter is like an aerobic exercise which increases blood circulation so you feel relaxed. Mental stress comes from time pressure, laughter yoga gives you a positive state of mind so that you can finish your work faster. Finally emotional stress, people don’t talk about emotional stress because of bad relationship with people and if you are not getting along with people it can go on and on for days together. This is where laughter exercise helps as it activates your diaphragm and parasympathetic system. Laughter yoga is the only exercise that has an impact on your physical, mental and emotional stress at the same time. This is how it works.
Impact of laughter yoga on school children – children of today are too much into technology and physical play is much less. They are more into virtual games rather than physical games. This is disastrous for their mental emotional intelligence. Scientific studies show that if children don’t play enough they will not have the emotional intelligence to communicate with people. Laughter Yoga in schools keeps emotional intelligence and playfulness up. Competition in studies brings a lot of stress and this exercise can help children. Laughter yoga has been written about in many school books in Japan, India and also as a subject in Cambridge University.
7. You have taught us that motivation persistence and perseverance are the distinct traits that dedicated and determined individuals need to make a difference in the world.
We should make our goals very clear. Someone once asked me, what I would ask myself. All my life I was very ambitious and wanted to be very famous. I was thinking more about achievement. To achieve something big, puts you under a lot of pressure. I used to read Dale Carnegie books, on how to be successful and influence other people but I really didn’t know why I wanted that. I wanted to achieve something for myself and that put me under a lot of pressure. When I discovered laughter yoga, I became famous world over because I give to the world. Think about what can you do for the world and it will come back to you. Do something worthwhile to make a difference in lives of other people.
8. How has Laughter Yoga changed your life and the lives of people around you? Rajaram Karthikeyan, GIIS Balestier Campus
Stress is the biggest problem. Everyone goes through stress starting from school life, whether it is emotional, mental or physical. Laughter yoga is the most powerful and quickest way to melt stress away. I was stressed when I was practicing medicine and also editing a health magazine at the same time. I realized that I could work more after I started going to the park. I started getting more ideas. As a medical doctor I used to see sick patients that creates a very negative frame of mind because of the sufferings and sickness of other people. If your mind is in a positive state you can deal with difficult people and situations in a much better way. I start laughing at 4 am in the morning and laugh atleast for 40 minutes. This helps my body and fills me with positive energy. I work for 16 hours a day and I don’t feel tired. I have become compassionate and understand difficult people and negative situations much better.[@NewsTemplate]