Fragrance of Laughter

I am sleeping comfortably in my cozy bed like a log. Still, my poor mind is continuously exercising and sweating with anxiety. It is stinking within me in the form of a nightmare. “Stop it, stop it,” I murmur in my sleep and twist my head sideways. Nevertheless, it keeps stalking me like a lunatic before I yell at the top of my lungs and awaken into reality. 

Four years have passed, and I have made anxiety fall in love with me. All these years, it has haunted me like an obsessed lover by giving me unnecessary stress on anything and everything. I did not realize how it made me a patient, and I had to take medication from a psychiatrist to remain sane. Going to the psychiatrist’s clinic had become my only entertainment, and taking anti-anxiety pills was a daily routine. However, now the tables have turned as I have started dating anxiety through the practice of Laughing Yoga. 

Getting deeply influenced by my grandfather, I started practicing the art of laughing for no reason using various techniques on the front lawn of my house. At first, it seemed crazy and senseless to stand still and start laughing for no reason. But that’s how I discovered the secret recipe of joy when I experienced my fake laughter turning into natural laughter within seconds that became uncontrollable and hard to stop. I started sweating and got exhausted from my laughter attack, but I could not stop laughing. My face started glowing, anxiety started evaporating into the air, and joy precipitated in me. And that’s how my grandpa introduced me to laughter as an exercise without begging the universe for humor or entertainment to laugh. I had discovered the inspiration to live life by laughing at it now rather than allowing it to laugh at me every time. 

We all know that laughing is the best medicine, but how many of us have experienced its meaning? Laughing Yoga has endless health benefits associated with it. It instantly releases stress from the body by lowering the cortisol level and increasing the levels of four happy hormones in the brain called endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin. It is the gateway to oxygen, as laughing is a pranayama or an exhalation process that releases all the stale air from the lungs and provides more room for oxygen to enter the body’s cells. That’s why it is called Laughing Yoga which revolves around the science of breathing and laughing out loud. It boosts our immune system and makes us live longer. Reading the book ‘Anatomy of an Illness’ by Norman Cousins had proven laughter as a universal energy when he battled a life-threatening spine illness called ankylosing spondylitis through the power of laughter. All exercises are essential and have their own benefits. Still, Laughing Yoga is unique as it is an icebreaker in social gatherings. After practicing laughter exercises in a group, it feels hard to believe that ten minutes before, everyone had been a stranger to each other. As Jeffrey Briar, one of the certified Master Trainers in Laughter Yoga, rightly says during his club meetings, “I am surprised at how laughter connects people within seconds.” It is an exercise with lots of enthusiasm and liveliness, while the rest may become boring ‘workout sessions.’ Today Laughing Yoga has become a popular practice in more than 100 countries. 

Critics have debated the existence of Laughing Yoga and why one needs to practice fake laughter when one can laugh through humor, jokes or comedy. Interestingly, scientific studies have revealed that the benefits of laughter only come when it is practiced in a prolonged and sustained way; it is deep, coming from the belly, and unconditional, which are the core elements of Laughing Yoga. Laughter arising out of jokes is limited and ends in a timespan of a few seconds which does not allow the body and the mind to gain its benefits. Conditional laughter also depends on one’s cognitive ability to comprehend jokes. Not everyone can laugh at the same joke, as some jokes may be hurtful or violate specific traditions and cultures. Suppose one wants to extract all the blessings from laughter. In that case, one must practice the exercise of Laughing Yoga sincerely every day. 

Beginning with acupressure clapping and chanting ‘Hoho, Hahaha’ to deep breathing exercises with positive affirmations, meditation, mindfulness techniques and incorporating elements of childlike playfulness through singing, dancing, playing and laughing, Laughing Yoga became my identity. It became energizing to learn and execute various laughter exercises like Mobile Phone Laughter, Argument Laughter, Milkshake Laughter, Credit Card Bill Laughter, Forgiveness Laughter and many such techniques based on everyday scenarios in life that teach us to laugh in every situation. I became fascinated as it dawned on me how Laughing Yoga can boost one’s creativity as one is free to invent laughter exercises based on any theme or activity. I could see the change within me when I started greeting my friends with smiles and chortles. Little things in life made me giggle or chuckle, like observing birds fighting for a morsel in the park, seeing two puppies playfully barking at each other, or simply gazing at the foam teasing the ocean’s waves. I became motivated to start my First Laughing Club in my high school, which introduced a new chapter into my life. 

Little did I know how my Laughing Club helped me achieve my dreams that I had never expected, like gaining popularity among the student body and becoming friends with my high school principal so that he never missed an opportunity to do hi-five with me wherever our paths crossed in the corridors. Long queues of children pounding on the doors of my French classroom during the lunch break like warriors became a weekly routine on Fridays as that was the venue and time for the Laughing Club. The news spread like wildfire among the faculty, and soon I found myself conducting laughter yoga for all the teachers in their staff meetings. That opened the doors for me to become a laughing yoga instructor and conduct sessions professionally. 

I began my YouTube channel and started posting videos to awaken the serious world into the themes of silliness and playfulness. I made my presence visible on social media as a Laughing Yoga Instructor by posting videos of the sessions that I had conducted in my high school. My initiatives provided results and soon corporate companies started approaching me to conduct sessions for their employees. My network also expanded as I connected with fellow laughter yoga instructors around the world and finally became acquainted with the Founder of Laughing Yoga, Dr. Madan Kataria who appreciated my efforts and selfless dedication for introducing laughter into everyone’s lives and honored me with the title of ‘Laughter Ambassador’. I also attracted the limelight in my university by conducting laughter yoga in all their events and parties before becoming an official instructor with the Health and Wellness Team. 

People often hesitate while trying laughter yoga and ask me what the world will think of them for laughing without reason? Won’t everyone think they are absurd or suffering from a mental disorder? Their questions fascinate me to ponder the irony of life that when we see someone crying publicly today, we think it’s normal and simply pass by that person. However, when we see someone laughing publicly, we stop and wonder if something is wrong with this person? Should we inform the police? We must change our mindsets and attitude toward life. Only then can we make anxiety fall in love with us, right? 

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