More than 100 countries across the world will celebrate World Laughter Day on May 5, the first Sunday of the month. Makarand Tilloo, president, Navchaiyanya Hasyayog Pariwar (Maharashtra laughter club), has been advocating laughter yoga for more than 22 years. It is also the silver jubilee year when laughter yoga was started and Tilloo plans to hold promotional programmes in 25 districts for not just senior citizens, but corporates, schools, colleges, police departments and government offices. Tilloo shares with Prachi Bari the highlights of the day’s celebrations.
What are the programmes lined up for May 5?
Navchaiyanya Hasyayog Pariwar will organise a special event at Balgandharva auditorium between 8 am and 11 am. There will be laughter yoga demonstration, cultural programme and talk by dignitaries. Hanmant Gaikwad, managing director of BVG company; Dr HK Sale, executive director, Noble Hospital; and Prakash Dhoka, industrialist and social worker will be the chief guests at the event.
The main features of Maharashtra laughter club
Navchaitanya Hasyayog Pariwar is the biggest organisation of laughter clubs in Pune. We have 170 laughter clubs with more than 15,000 thousand members spread all over Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Talegaon, Satara, Wai and Kopargaon. First laughter club in Pune was started by Vitthal Kate. He is the president and I am the chief co-ordinator of Navchaitanya.
When did the initiative take place first in Pune? Who started it?
The first laughter club in the world was formed by Dr Madan Kataria in 1995 and we are celebrating the silver jubilee this year. In Maharashtra, there are more than 1,500 laughter clubs in various cities, including Pune, Mumbai, Nasik, Ahmednagar, Kopargaon Satara, Sangli, Karad, Kolhapur, Solapur, Nagpur, Aurangabad and Chandrapur. There is a central body formed to coordinate with these clubs all over Maharashtra. It is known as Laughter Yoga International, Maharashtra. I am the state president of Laughter Yoga International, Maharashtra.
Your experiences of the initial days and public reaction
In the beginning, there was apprehension in the minds of people. Some felt that it’s a new fad. When people started experiencing the benefits, they started regularly attending the laughter clubs. The clubs are getting popular only through word-of-mouth publicity. Now there is a huge demand to open these clubs not only in garden but housing societies. All the members are closely knit and we call it a ‘Pariwar’ (family). We feel that with a change in lifestyle, laughter relations are becoming stronger than blood relations
Benefits of doing laughter yoga
Concept of laughter yoga uses laughter as an exercise. Hence, we laugh over joke, humour or comedy. Normally we laugh for 3 to 10 seconds when we hear a joke. We need to increase the duration of laughter for it to benefit out body. Hence, laughter yoga combines various body movements, exercise, yogic breathing, and childlike playfulness. There are innumerable benefits of laughter yoga for body and mind. Today 80% of problems are psychosomatic. People are suffering from tension, stress, depression. Youngsters are having ailments like blood pressure, diabetes and heart problem. Laughter yoga is helpful in these conditions. It is an exercise for body and mind. By continual laughter, we train our subconscious mind to be happy. It changes our perspective on life.
Who coined the phrase laughter yoga or are there any funny names?
In laughter clubs, more than 100 exercises have been designed as workout. It has got funny names like Mirachi Laugh, Minister Laugh, Mobile Laugh, Lassi Laugh, Bird Laugh, Belly Laugh and Tractor Laugh. Laughter is a universal language without any barriers. Laughter is an expression of happiness. Hence, these exercises make more people happy. Years of study have shown that laughter can help in respiratory, circulatory, muscular, Hormonal and gastrointestinal functions of the body. I always tell people that your body is a manifestation of your mind. The more happy thoughts you have, the more healthy and happy you are as a person.