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Dr. Madan Kataria's picture

A Chat With Dr. Madan Kataria

Date:Sep 6, 2005, 9 PM Pacific (GMT -7)
Topic:The Magic of Laughter
Duration:One hour

Dr. Madan Kataria, a physician from Mumbai, India, is the founder of the laughter yoga movement around the world. He started laughter yoga ten years ago with the idea that anyone can laugh without depending upon having a great sense of humor, jokes or comedy. He is the author of "Laugh for No Reason".

Transcript of the chat

Anu Garg (Moderator)
Welcome to the 17th online chat at Wordsmith.Org!

Our today's guest is Dr. Madan Kataria, the founder of laughter yoga movement. He is a physician from Mumbai, India. He is currently visiting Los Angeles and joining us from there.

Welcome, Dr. Kataria!

Dr. Madan Kataria
Thank you very much and hello everybody. Ho ho ha ha ha!

Shayna
Welcome...I am sure that we are all looking greatly forward to this discussion, and, Thank You for speaking to us.

Anu Garg (Moderator)
To start with, what is laughter yoga?

Dr. Madan Kataria
Laughter Yoga is a new breakthrough method where anyone can laugh for 10 to 15 minutes in a group doing laughter as a form of exercises. When you catch an eye contact it turns into real laughter.

We combine laughter exercises with yoga breathing and hence the name "Laughter Yoga".

Anu Garg (Moderator)
I have attended a couple of laughter clubs in the US and India and I truly enjoyed the group laughter experience.

Dr. Madan Kataria
This is the reason why it is spreading all over the world.

Anu Garg (Moderator)
So when did you came up with the idea of starting laughter yoga? And how?

Dr. Madan Kataria
On 13th March 1995 I started the first Laughter Club in Mumbai, India in a public park with just 5 people In the beginning we started by telling jokes but soon the stock of good jokes ran out. And then I thought that we should laugh in a group without a reason as I read in scientific research that our body does not know the difference between fake and real laughter.

ann-usa
Why did you start the club?

Dr. Madan Kataria
I found so many benefits of laughter from scientific research as it strengthens the immune system, releases stress and many other benefits that I thought "why not start a laughter club?"

Dr. Madan Kataria
science has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that laughter is indeed the best medicine, but who laughs today?

marlene - st louis
I have heard you have at least 15 laughter clubs in Israel now and that you are getting Arabs and Israelis to laugh together. Can you tell us more about this?

Dr. Madan Kataria
Yes, it is very true. The laughter movement is spreading very fast in Israel. Many Arabs and Israelis are getting together to promote Peace movement through laughter.

Jackie USA
What is the difference between your groups and a bunch of people just sitting around laughing? Does doing yoga breathing really make a difference? Is it difficult to remember to do it?

Dr. Madan Kataria
This method combines Yoga breathing and laughter exercises which is pure and not a product of the mind which can be at times negative and hurting. In our real life we don't laugh much. Maybe a few seconds here and there. This is not enough to bring real health benefits. For our immune system and stress release we must laugh 10 to 15 minutes at least. This is not possible in real life laughter which comes to us.

The method is very simple and you don't need any jokes or sense of humor, be happy or have any reason to laugh. It is purely a physical process where you laugh for no reason. It soon becomes infectious and real. This is much deeper and powerful than laughter coming out of jokes and comedies.

Anu Garg (Moderator)
I realize that this medium (text chat) doesn't lend itself to showing a laughter session. Attending a laughter club meeting and seeing a bunch of other people laughing just for the sake of laughter. It's liberating.

marlene - st louis
Hi Dr Kataria, it is Marlene In St Louis. I think it is difficult to try to explain how great you feel after laughter yoga without experiencing it. It is very simple and very powerful. Some days when I do it I feel like I have just pulled the "cork" out of everything that is bottled up and the laughter helps to start to release it.

Jackie USA
Indeed. Even smiling for no reason relaxes the facial muscles, so I imagine that actual laughter has far greater physiological benefits.

Dr. Madan Kataria
Just try the following exercise now...

Lift your arms up and stretch them backward, take a long deep breath, hold it for a while until you feel like releasing and simply laugh.

This is a very simple, laughing on your own even without a group. Would anyone like to try it now?

John_Taiwan
Hello Master Madan this is John from Taiwan.

Dr. Madan Kataria
Hello John. Nice to hear from you...

John_Taiwan
I Would lilke to exhale with laughter.

Megan Davis - USA
I've been doing it for about 2 minutes. And it feels relaxing, but not funny.

Dr. Madan Kataria
Wonderful Megan. Yes, it is not funny and it does not matter. Do it several times and it will make you feel good (your brain will still produce happy chemistry).

Megan Davis - USA
Do you find it important to hold the hands up and back?

Dr. Madan Kataria
Yes, you can cross your fingers and reverse them as you stretch backwards. You can also look up if this is comfortable for you. The second method is to simply fake it until you make it.

Say ha ha ha ha ha..

Megan Davis - USA
I do feel better - lighter.

Dr. Madan Kataria
A few times artificially and see how soon it turns into real laughter. This happens much better in a group.

hari hinduja-india
Why are Indians shy to laugh, and how to overcome it?

Dr. Madan Kataria
Practice is what you need for a few days, in a group if you can. Group practice is the easiest way to remove shyness and inhibitions.

Eye contact with other people helps.

Dr. Madan Kataria
Cultivate playfulness, talk gibberish.

manoj-india
I tried it, it really exercises internal organs.

Dr. Madan Kataria
Great Manoj! I agree with you.

Megan Davis - USA
Have you found that people hesitate to participate if they have been feeling sad, or grieving?

Dr. Madan Kataria
Some people do hesitate in the beginning, and when they come and realize that their mood state improves dramatically they join in and come as often as they can.

Dr. Madan Kataria
Currently in 40 countries, with over 5000 laughter clubs. over 250,000 of them

H - U.S.
Is there a release of serotonin using the stretch/laugh sequence?

Dr. Madan Kataria
Laughter releases endorphins and related neuro-transmitters from the brain cells. Perhaps serotonin and dopamine too. If anything it stimulates the meso-limbic system (emotional switchboard).

Anu Garg (Moderator)
How is the idea of laughter yoga being received in the medical community?

Dr. Madan Kataria
In India many doctors are recommending their patients to go to Laughter Clubs. In Denmark it is seen as a major anti-depressant tool. Many Danish doctors themselves are participating in laughter clubs.

H - U.S.
Was there a specific need which prompted your research?

Dr. Madan Kataria
Perhaps I was too much stressed out in Mumbai and I needed to laugh the most.

Elaine - Oregon
How does laughing affect the autonomic nervous system?

Dr. Madan Kataria
Laughter stimulates the diaphragm, which has a specific nerve supply which belongs to the para-sympathetic nervous system which is the cooling branch of our nervous system. It helps us to relax and feel good.

hari hinduja-india
You feel young by practicing laughter?

Dr. Madan Kataria
Most certainly. It increases the net oxygen supply to the body, dilates blood vessels, stimulates circulation, relaxes muscles, elevates moods, and much more.

manoj-india
Sometimes we want to come out of depression, but find it difficult. It looks it will certainly help us to come out of depressions of any sort.

Dr. Madan Kataria
ha ha ha

John_Taiwan
ha ha ha

Dr. Madan Kataria
hi hi hi

marlene - st louis
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHa

Megan Davis - USA
How long does a laughter club meeting usually last?

Dr. Madan Kataria
hu hu hu. 20 to 30 minutes

jackie curran Australia
Very good very veeeery goood.

Sleepy - Canada
Hi Dr. Kataria - this is Marja from Burlington, Ontario. I took your training last October in Toronto and together with Anil who took your training in April, we have started a laughter club every Tuesday night. It is so much fun - I was just about to go to bed when I got the information about this chat in an email from Denise who has a laughter club in Toronto on Saturdays- so glad to connect with you again ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Dr. Madan Kataria
Very nice meeting you, sleepy Canada!

Dr. Madan Kataria
Very good very good, yeaah!

Anu Garg (Moderator)
I'm laughing sitting here all by myself!

Dr. Madan Kataria
Let us all start an online laughter session.

Dr. Madan Kataria
Everybody!

Dr. Madan Kataria
Type ha ha ha hi hi hi ho ho.

Anu Garg (Moderator)
ha ha ha hi hi hi ho ho ho

Megan Davis - USA
hehehehaa Online Laughter Session! Hehehee!

Dr. Madan Kataria
And keep laughing while doing it.

jackie curran Australia
hee heee haaa

John_Taiwan
ha ha ha kikiki

Dr. Madan Kataria
ha ha ha ha

hi hi hi

ho ho ho

Elaine - Oregon
ha ha ha hi hi hi ho ho ho

jackie curran Australia
ha ha haha ha

Dr. Madan Kataria
hi hi ah aha ah and keep laughing while doing this!

hari hinduja-india
ha ha ha hi hi hi ho ho ho

Jeffrey Briar USA
Ho ha, ha ha ha!

Dr. Madan Kataria
oo o o o o o h ah ah ah aha

John_Taiwan
International language?

Dr. Madan Kataria
Universal.

Shayna
ha ha ha hi hi hi ho ho ho!

Jeffrey Briar USA
Ha ha ha ha ha. He he he he he! I feel silly, and definitely happy!

Sleepy - Canada
I find that I get energised after our laughter club session which is why I am still awake hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha even though I should be sleepy.

Dr. Madan Kataria
ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Megan Davis - USA
I'm glad we're using the same alphabet, though....hehahahhaa.

Dr. Madan Kataria
he he he he

marlene - st louis
I was at the training in October in Toronto also and I started the first laughter club in St Louis. We meet every Sunday afternoon.Though of us who come regularly really do notice the benefits ot it. One man who has suffered from chronic pain for years and has had very little success in finding relief, said that after a good laughter session at our group he is pain free the rest of the evening.

Dr. Madan Kataria
Hello Marlene, nice to laugh with you online.

marlene - st louis
Ha ha ha hi hi hi hee he e ho ho ha

Dr. Madan Kataria
And you are doing a good job.

Jeffrey Briar USA
Higgledy Piggledy Heckledy Poo -

Dr. Madan Kataria
God bless you.

Sleepy - Canada
Hello Marlene, I remember you hohoho.

Anu Garg (Moderator)
So how can one find a laughter club if they wish to join?

Dr. Madan Kataria
Visit laughteryoga.org or laughteryoga.us for the USA.

marlene - st louis
Hello sleep - hahahahahahaha Great to laugh with all you!

Jeffrey Briar USA
Could you comment on how attending a Laughter Club affects/improves the sense of humor of participants? I'm especially thinking of people who are depressed or otherwise unhappy - how does their attendance affect their level of humor-acceptance?

Dr. Madan Kataria
When you laugh in a group as a form of exercise you break your psychological barriers, while laughing for no reason releases your emotions and helps you to overcome your shyness.

marlene - st louis
tee he tee he tee heee (shy laughter)

Dr. Madan Kataria
The release of good chemicals within the body makes you feel good. This prompts you to see everything good outside.

jackie curran Australia
Hello Madan and everyone - I have found since doing the spiritual retreat recently with Madan that I can now easily laugh all alone for no reason and it is great fun and I feel so much better afterwards. Do you other laughter leaders find they laugh alone each day for no reason?

Dr. Madan Kataria
Yes Jackie. I know you are a great laugher ha ha ha.

Keep it up.

Sleepy - Canada
Can you explain "motion creates emotion"?

Dr. Madan Kataria
It is a matter of practice and belief. There is a link between mind and body. If you are depressed in the mind, your body is depressed and if you move your body your mind moves: you feel good. This is called motion creates emotions.

marlene - st louis
My husband and I laugh every day now at traffic lights and when we are stuck in traffic on the way to or from work. It has made it much less stressful and much more fun.

Megan Davis - USA
What a great idea!

Dr. Madan Kataria
Yes, many people do that in laughter clubs.

Dr. Madan Kataria
Especially when you are stuck in traffic. It makes you feel better (and others as well!)

John_Taiwan
I always encourage my members to exaggerate the laughing action as much as they can.

Dr. Madan Kataria
This helps too.

Elaine - Oregon
Several laughter leaders myself included in Portland Oregon have volunteered to lead Hurricane Katrina evacuees in laughter yoga. I wonder if this is a good idea? Will laughing release too many emotions? We do not know if the Red Cross will accept our offer.

Dr. Madan Kataria
Laughter makes you open and generous. You feel like helping others. This is wonderful. Many laughter leaders from all over the world helped with the Tsunami victims. It is amazing. Laughter brings generosity.

marlene - st louis
If you don't have one in your area you can go to Dr Kataria's two-day training and start one of your own. That is what I am doing! It is great fun!

Jeffrey Briar USA
Dr. Kataria, how often do you "tell jokes" with your wife and family? Ever?? Or do you just "do" laughter (without jokes)?

Dr. Madan Kataria
I have learned to tell a few jokes but I am not good at it. I start laughing much before the punch line. Ha ha ha

Jeffrey Briar USA
Ha ha ha!

Elaine - Oregon
I trained with Dr. Kataria in San Jose, Nov. 2003. I love his playful attitude such as wearing one black shoe, one white shoe. Thank you so much Dr. Kataria. Elaine Helle Portland, Oregon

Dr. Madan Kataria
You are welcome, Elaine. Keep laughing!

John_Taiwan
I started my laughter club only after I received Madan's DVD and Book.

marlene - st louis
Dr Kataria, I have recently led laughter yoga in a nursing home with a group of elderly nuns and in another senior citizens group. Although I led the laughter yoga without jokes, at each group I had a few elderly ladies who wanted to start telling jokes to me and the group at the end. It was quite sweet and delightful.

Dr. Madan Kataria
Yes. seniors love to laugh and after the session they come up with humor and jokes. this is why I say that laughter leads to humor and humor leads to laughter.

Jeffrey Briar USA
Has there been much work with using Laughter Yoga (as "Therapy") with mental patients (in mental hospitals for example)?

Dr. Madan Kataria
We have not tried with mentally ill patients except depression, where results are fantastic.

manoj-india
Yes, I think it will help us to overcome continued sadness.

Dr. Madan Kataria
I agree with you Manoj. Laughter helps to bring out the sadness also.

People are able to cry easily after laughing.

marlene - st louis
I had a mentally ill man try coming to my group once. He found it very very difficult and became extremely tense. He really could not laugh. He has not come back. It was clearly part of the illness.

Dr. Madan Kataria
Laughter Yoga is preventive. Our slogan is "laugh before you fall sick". It does have therapeutic effect on many illnesses.

Jeffrey Briar USA
A tremendous number of people in the US (and worldwide) now take anti-depressant medications. How do you think there could be Laughter sessions, to replace, or at least minimize, the drugs. Do you think they could be done on television, for example? Or with the Leader on TV, while the "patients" were gathered in a community center?

Dr. Madan Kataria
Great idea. I have no doubt this will happen in due time. There will be morning laughter sessions on TV instead of or next to the regular exercise classes.

marlene - st louis
If people did it with the leader on TV that would depersonalize it. That is part of the problem in American culture already, in my opinion.

Dr. Madan Kataria
Yes, I agree with you Marlene. If you are a regular laughter club member then you can laugh everyday with the TV because most US laughter clubs only laugh once in a week and also laughing is still better than not laughing at all.

Sleepy - Canada
This is my first ever chat and it was so much fun ha ha ha Thank you Dr. Kataria and all the chat room users.

Dr. Madan Kataria
Thank you everybody. ha ha ha.

Dr. Madan Kataria
Let's have another online laughter session. Everybody type ha ha ha hi ahi hao ha. ha ha ah aha
hi hi hi
ho ho ho

Anu Garg (Moderator)
ha ha ha

Dr. Madan Kataria
hu hu hu

Dr. Madan Kataria
Keep laughing!

Anu Garg (Moderator)
We end this chat now. For more, please see laughteryoga.org.

Guest
Good night all - thanks so much for the marvelous topic.

Anu Garg (Moderator)
Thank you, Dr. Kataria, for speaking here today and thanks to all the participants.

Dr. Madan Kataria
Thank you Anu Garg for sharing laughter.

marlene - st louis
My first ever chat too. Hah ahahahahahah

hari hinduja-india
hahahahihihihohoho

Sleepy - Canada
ha haha ha ha ho ho ho ho ho he he he he he hehe

Jeffrey Briar USA
Ha ha hoo hoo har har nycuk!!!

marlene - st louis
hahahahhaha ho ho hi heeeheehee

Dr. Madan Kataria
chuckle chuckle chuckle


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