I first encountered Laughter Yoga in summer 2011 – 5 months after the devastating earthquake and Tsunami hit Japan. Although our hometown wasn’t affected physically, everyone was affected mentally and emotionally. We were also all afraid of the nuclear crisis and the radiation leaks. It felt like a lot of people stopped laughing, and the country was filled with sadness, anger and confusion. I myself was feeling depressed for a few months... and that’s when I heard about someone offering a trial Laughter Yoga session.
I didn’t even have to check out what it was. The name “Laughter Yoga” was attractive enough to make me decide I should participate!
So I went and took the class, and the session was more magical and more powerful than I had imagined. We laughed, and laughed, and laughed more for 1 hour, and I felt so joyful, energized and optimistic for the first time since the earthquake. I said to myself right away, “This is the way to heal Japan!” “This is the way to heal myself, my family, friends, the community… and everyone who is suffering and hurting!” I took action immediately and checked all the information about Laughter Yoga on the Internet. I wanted to get to know it. I wanted to get involved. I signed up for a leader training scheduled for November in my hometown, and I also decided without any hesitation that I should go see Dr. Kataria in India someday, which I just did this August 2012.
After knowing Laughter Yoga for a year, and especially after taking the teacher training by Dr. Kataria, I definitely feel like a better person, but I don’t feel like a “different” person. I’m the same me – I know I’ve always had good qualities as well as weaknesses, and Laughter Yoga seems to bring out the best qualities out of me. Even though we all have kindness, love and compassion inside us, it’s hard to speak kind words or be patient with others when we are highly stressed or depressed. But after laughing for an extended period of time, kindness, warmth and patience flow out of me naturally, with ease. It’s not about “becoming” a better, special, loving person, but it’s about returning to who I actually am deep inside. For the first time in a long time, I can proudly say, “I love who I am.”
Being a dedicated practitioner and a full-time instructor of Kripalu Yoga, I still believe in Yoga asanas, but Laughter Yoga also has become a huge part of my life, and it will continue to be for the rest of my life. I’ve always had the desire to help people and that’s why I started sharing my love of Yoga as a profession, and I’m now so confident that, as a Laughter Yoga teacher, I can reach out to even more people and be of help and of service for those who are not able to take my regular Yoga classes.
Lastly, I would like to mention the founder of Laughter Yoga: Dr. Madan Kataria. He’s an asset to the world and he brought this huge healing gift of laughter and joy to humanity. He, along with all his students and the Laughter Yoga family, is changing the world. He is very clear and generous with his teachings, but what struck me the most is that he does not act like a special person or an enlightened guru. He acts just like one of us. He is very approachable and friendly. If anyone is interested in Laughter Yoga, and if you haven’t already, I highly recommend you go see him someday. It’s a great way to learn and see for yourself how to “live” Laughter Yoga!