“When you laugh; you change and when you change, the world changes around you” – Dr. Madan Kataria
Humanist Alliance Philippines, International (HAPI) launched its new fundraising event, “HAPI Laughter Yoga Class” last August 18, 2019, at the Rotary Center, Quezon City. Laughter yoga originated in Mumbai, India in 1995 and was the brainchild of Dr. Madan Kataria who focused some of his scholarly works on the benefits of laughter.
Laughter is known to be beneficial to one’s health. In a 2017 study published by Journal of Dental and Medical Research, laughter can bring blood pressure down, and in another study in 2014 published in International Journal of Obesity, laughter can be a good form of exercise as it can actually burn calories. Moreover, hearty laughter is surely a good abs workout.
In addition, laughter triggers the release of endorphins, a hormone that activates the body’s opiate receptors, causing an analgesic effect. In the 14th century, Henri de Mondeville, a French surgeon, used laughter to distract patients from the pain of surgery and to help them during recovery. Aside from endorphins, laughter can also stimulate the release of other hormones, like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, which contributes to one’s well-being and happiness, while decreasing the levels of stress hormones. Thus, laughter reduces stress, anxiety and boosts one’s immune system at the same time.
To formally introduce laughter yoga to participants, which is relatively new in the Philippines, a brief history of the said activity was discussed including its origin, and how laughter was developed as a form of exercise. Initially, the participants were asked to introduce themselves accompanied by a signature laugh in order to prepare and set everyone’s mood.
After which, certain house rules were established in order to successfully accomplish its main objective – to laugh our heart out. According to Dr. Kataria, the body can’t actually differentiate between a pretend and genuine laughter. Hence, after establishing house rules, it was followed by series of laughter exercises by imitating different forms of laughter through role-play activities, and as a medium to interact with one another – a language that transcends boundaries.
In spite of imitating laughter, a peal of genuine and contagious laughter naturally came out from the participants during the duration of the activity. Laughter yoga doesn’t also require much mental concentration and body coordination, as compared to the traditional form of Yoga. However, laughter yoga incorporates breathing exercises in between laughter exercises.
Humanist Alliance Philippines, International (HAPI) is deeply anchored in its commitment to ameliorate human condition. More than the health benefits, HAPI laughter yoga class aims to connect individuals by breaking one’s respective walls and boundaries in order to establish a different human connection and experience through laughter. It is through laughter that we can imbue positivity towards a relevant social integration and improve mental health wellness.
HAPI Laughter Yoga class was attended mostly by members of HAPI Metro Manila Chapter and facilitated by Kates Ante, a mental health advocate and a laughter yoga teacher, who acquired her certification in India. Proceeds of the said activity will be used to fund various HAPI programs and projects across the country.