Article By: Shreelatha Nayak Kodialbail
Mangalore, Dec 11, 2009: Are you feeling stressed and sulky and want to rekindle your sense of humor? The Laughing Club has a prescription that will help you reduce stress, increase smiles and improve your health. Laughter is also known as “wonder medicine” in improving physical and mental well-being.
Laughter Club activities include systematic exercises of deep breathing, gentle stretching and laughter exercises that encourages liveliness and a balance of mind and body. Laughter Club meeting is the willingness to laugh. Here the people laugh with each other and not at each other. Laughter fitness program will prevent hardening of the arteries and hardening of the attitudes.
Our five senses are not enough for ideal living. We need to use our sixth sense and that is our sense of humor. Humor is not about merely telling jokes, but it is the way we view the world. We can be sincere about life without taking it so seriously. We can laugh about our mistakes and pain. Laughter helps to control blood pressure. Though it cannot reverse the problem, it can arrest the progress of the disease. It is mainly an anti-stress measure and more of a supplementary and preventive therapy. Beginning the day with 15 minutes of laughter keeps you fresh throughout the day.
“Through the clubs we are trying to break the seriousness of life, and by reviving the spirit of laughter we alleviate stress” says Surekha Prabhu, moderator, Gandhi Park Laughing Club.
It takes 53 muscles in the face to make a frown while it takes only 18 muscles to smile. Just try doing this — when somebody overtakes your car with a glare of road rage, just wave at him and smile. “Smiling is an art of winning,” says Dale Carnegie in one of his books.
Sudhakar Bhat, yoga therapist began his laughing club in a small way at a Gandhi park in Mangalore with just four members, seven years ago. Later the idea caught on well by replacing several kinds of exercises. Each session of the club starts with deep breathing and the Ho, Ho, Ha, Ha warm-up followed by a variety of stimulated laughter such as hearty, silent, medium and swinging laughter, and dancing guffaws.
The studies have shown that people suffering from a variety of diseases have benefited in some way or the other. There is a 10-20 mm drop in blood pressure after a 10 minute laughter session.
In several instances, researchers have found that antibodies in the mucous membranes of the nose and respiratory passages increase after laughter therapy. The frequency of colds, sore throats and chest infections comes down, affirms the doctor, quoting from personal experience in case of attacks of flu.
The club has no registration or membership fees or any other formalities that inhibit free laughing. It simply means that one looks into one’s psyche and lets in positive charges. It has also improved inter-personal communication, understanding and social co-operation in the community, she adds.The concept of laughter clubs is catching up in Mangalore. The oldest in the city has existed for more than a decade and new clubs are coming up at public parks or private gardens. One can hear laughter breaking the silence of the morning while moving trough the parks.
The Gandhi Park in recent years has become an example of the “perfect public park”. The radio tower at the park plays instrumental and light vocal music in the morning and the half-kilometer jogging track is visitors favourite. The central area of the park, which is populated by evergreen plants and lush green lawns, is a hangout for the local laughter club and the meditating yogis. The sound of cascading water from the nearby water spout adds to the ambience.Laughter, being a natural stress buster, lifts your spirit with vigour. But now, laughing together without a stimulus is turning into laughing together to foster your contacts, widens your social circles and makes new friends.
Majority of the members of these clubs belong to age group above 40, who usually don’t get sprinkling time for an aerobic exercise and are convinced of the medical benefits of laughter and Yogic sciences.
Laughter can make you look younger for it tones up the muscles of your face and leads to an increase of blood supply which nourishes the facial skin and makes it glow.
Humour as a therapy has never failed. There are many other exercise involved in the laughter therapy such as ‘warm –up exercise’, ‘joint exercise’, ‘wrist exercise’, ‘clap therapy’, ‘thadasan’, ‘rope pulling’, ‘Jaadu ki Jappi’, ‘swinging’, ‘Airhostess’, ‘masala drink’, ‘yoga walking’ and waving up of hands in smaller rounds to bigger ones.
The people in the laughing club include laughter therapy for about 20-22 times during the 20 minute sessions daily. This helps to release a cocktail of hormones from the body that affects our metabolic rate which boosts up our immune system, reduces stress and curbs depression.
Since laughter improves the level of endorphins, which are natural pain killers in our body, it helps reduce the intensity of pain from arthritis, spondylitis and migraine. Asthmatics derive benefit from this exercise as it improves lung capacity and oxygen levels in the blood.
When people laugh, the adrenalin level goes down and the cumulative effect of stress is minimized. Those who laugh often are less prone to heart attacks than those who are introverted and tend to brood.Humour contributes greatly to a feeling of well-being. “Laugh and be well” is now a proven medical fact. Hence humour and laughter for therapeutic value are being increasingly recognized today throughout the world.
Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry and you cry alone,” is an old proverb. Laughter makes the ugliest look beautiful while with anger it is the absolute opposite. And promoting a laughter club in Mangalore is not just laughing one’s way to health but also happiness. Mangaloreans who have now taken a liking for such clubs and love to continue the daily work out will surely adore and maintain the beautiful places in the name of laughing clubs.