Up for a laugh this weekend? You’re in luck! Sunday is World Laughter Day, a celebration aimed at the promotion of peace, friendship and playfulness. If you fancy being tickled pink, corporate wellness experts Inspire2Aspire are running a whole host of hilarious and happy happenings to get you rolling in the aisles and giggling like a child.
Laughter Day was first introduced in Mumbai in 1998 by Dr Madan Kataria, leader of the worldwide Laughter Yoga movement. According to Inspire2Aspire, Laughter Yoga – which is now practiced by more than 6,000 groups in 65 countries across the world – is also catching on in Hong Kong.
“Everyone works very hard in Hong Kong and we find that a lot of people are depressed, stressed and dependent on sleeping pills,” said Veena Dansinghani, founding member of Inspire2Aspire, which has used Laughter Yoga to boost morale in workplaces across the city including the MTR, the Police Department, HSBC and Citibank.
“As children we laugh 400 times a day, but as adults we only laugh around ten times a day or even less,” Veena added. “Laughter Yoga is about rediscovering your child-likeness. It’s an instant vacation; a kindergarten for adults.”
The tittle-inducing discipline does not rely on jokes or slapstick, but instead encourages prolonged voluntary laughter through participant eye contact and playfulness. The idea is to ‘fake it ‘til you make it’, allowing forced group laughter to naturally turn into contagious and uncontrollable chortles.
“As adults we only laugh at what is ‘funny’, but that is very subjective,” Veena told Localiiz. “Laughter Yoga puts the body before mind, and once you start forcing laughter in a group you just start laughing naturally without knowing what you’re laughing about. Participants feel happier, a release of stress and connected to the people around them.”
Laughter has long-been said to be the best medicine, and it is believed that such voluntary laughter has the same physiological and psychological effects as spontaneous laughter. Although evidence-obsessed scientists say more testing must be done before any conclusions about the medical benefits of Laughter Yoga can be drawn, believers say it can help with everything from allergies and asthma to depression and diabetes.
“There are tonnes of health benefits; mental, emotional and physical,” said Veena. “Laughter creates happy chemicals known as endorphins, which help you internally and act as natural pain killers. Ten minutes of hearty laughter is the same as 30 minutes on a treadmill, so if you hate going to the gym or you don’t have time, you’ll see the benefits of Laughter Yoga.”
Inspire2Aspire’s Laughter Day activities kick off at Jordan’s WPHI Centre at 3pm with a short Gratitude Meditation session led by Sangeeta Ahuja from the Life Management Yoga Centre. There will then be a session in Power Breathing to limber laughers up before the hilarity begins at 4pm. The Laughter Yoga will be followed by workshops on maintaining a positive focus in life, Pranic Healing, Ayurveda and Integrated Holistic Yoga.