How I discovered Laughter Yoga
It was June 2006. We were 15 people sitting in a circle, waiting for the class to begin. I was attending a 2-day training program to become a certified Laughter Yoga Leader. I had no idea what to expect or what Laughter Yoga was about. I was looking to bring new and innovative fitness programs back to the members of the YMCA. Linda, our teacher, began the class with introductions. We were to say our full name followed by a “pretend laugh.” What?! I instantly felt uncomfortable. It did not take long for me to contemplate an exit plan. At the break, I would explain to Linda that this was not for me. I looked at my watch. Great!! We had two more hours before the first break, and would engage in what I initially thought would be “nonsense.”
She explained the history of Laughter Yoga and briefed us about Dr. Kataria and his wife Madhuri, the founders of Laughter Yoga. Dr. Kataria and Madhuri lead their first laughter club on March 13th, 1995, with only 5 other people. By 2006, there was an estimated 5000 Laughter Clubs around the world, and by 2015, that number had doubled. Linda, who was one of the first certified teachers in Quebec, was growing her business by certifying people like me. She also ran a successful Laughter Yoga club twice a week in Gatineau, Quebec.
I still wasn’t convinced! Simulating laughter, clapping and chanting, and acting like a child made me feel awkward. But I remember one particular student who had a very infectious laugh. As we engaged in simulated laughter, she was able to bring a real and deep laugh out of me. It was now break time and I remembered my exit strategy. But wait! I had already paid for the course. Linda was (and still is) an excellent teacher, so I decided to just stay the day. I was probably going to skip day two.
After the lunch break, we were asked to tell our story. The question was, “why did we want to become certified Laughter Yoga Leaders?” My intention was to provide a new type of “Yoga” class to YMCA members. But during lunch, my mind started thinking about laughter as more than just an exercise class. I noticed that by laughing with the other students, we had develop a connection. We felt comfortable with each other, and inhibitions were lifted. I started seeing myself teaching Laughter Yoga like Linda, and explaining the benefits to audiences who may have little or no opportunity to engage in laughter.
My perceptions had greatly shifted. I understood that Laughter Yoga could be used as a tool to help people become stronger, better, and connect with others. I suddenly contemplated the potential! I felt a need to live this, and help others incorporate this fountain of wellness into their lives. The seed was planted then and there, and in the next few years, the idea grew, and a business was put in place. The business would be called Living Laughter™. The mission, simple: To live, feel and breathe laughter.
Oh!! I did end up attending day two of the certification. So much for my “exit plan!” 😉