Laughter is the name of this yoga (video)

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Báo Tuổi Trẻ English - 70 month(s) ago 10 readings

Laughter is the name of this yoga (video)

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Every day at 6 am, a group of approximately 200 people, mostly the elderly, gather at the Ly Thai To park in Hanoi in front of the statute of Ly Thai To, emperor and founder of the Lý Dynasty in the 11th century AD, to practice Laughter Yoga.

A young man in his 20s stands at the center of the crowd and instructs the people around to perform some strange moves, all in the name of laughter.

Apart from hand-clapping and breathing, everyone is trained to open their mouth widely for a few minutes. After that, they bend their heads, stare at one another and then burst into laughter.

The training session often lasts from 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Laughter Yoga (Hasyayoga) was founded by Dr. Madan Kataria in Mumbai, India in 1995. Since then, it has become a worldwide phenomenon with more than 7000 Laughter Clubs in about 70 countries.

In the beginning of March 2011, Dr. Madan Kataria came to Vietnam to launch the first Laughter Club in the country by giving a training course to the first batch of local students in this unique therapy.

Laughter Yoga was later introduced to Hanoi by Le Anh Son, currently the president of the club, who attended a training course in Bangalore, India. Since his return to the capital city, Son has helped turn Laughter Yoga into a special morning exercise for Hanoians.

According to Dr. Kataria, the success of Laughter Yoga is to help people laugh as genuinely as possible, without the need of humor, funny jokes, or comedy programs -- just a willingness to laugh, and in the current climate everyone needs to laugh more.

Laughter Yoga is a combination of Laughter Exercises with Yogic Breathing (pranayama), so that you increase the amount of oxygen in your body whilst being playful, resulting in you feeling more healthy, energized and alive. There are about 350 to 400 different Laughter Yoga poses for your selection, depending on your cultural taste or habits. You can even make up or invent new postures.

Besides Hanoi, Laughter Yoga clubs have also been set up in other provinces and cities, drawing a large number of participants.




An interview with Le Son, founder and president of Hanoi Laughter Yoga Club:

How do you know about Laughter Yoga? When did you hear about it and how long have you practiced it? How many hours a day do you practice it now? How do you continue developing your knowledge about Laughter Yoga? What have you done to make the Indian version of Laughter Yoga become Vietnamese?

I used to be a UNESCO lecturer of soft-skills and the 12 basic life values. At that time, I had studied and lectured the subject “Happiness and Balance in Life”. However, I was not satisfied with its purely theoretical knowledge because I wanted to find a real tool or instrument for real practice. Then, in 2007, I was exposed to Laughter Yoga. I tried to find materials about the positive effects of Laughter Yoga on the internet. After that, I tried to apply the effects of laughter in my teaching in different courses at schools as well as various companies. To my surprise, students showed positive responses and changes towards this new method. Therefore, at the end of 2010, I registered for a training course for international trainers of Laughter Yoga at Bangalore, India.

On average, I practice Laughter Yoga one hour a day, not including practicing Laughter Yoga with students in many classes at different times of day. The most important thing is not to fix yourself to a schedule of practicing Laughter Yoga, but you should maintain your happiness, excitement and even your laughter in everything that you do all day. Laughter Yoga doesn’t mean that you just stand around and laugh.

I have exchanged training experiences and new systems of lessons with my international mates and colleagues. Moreover, I have also studied other materials like Qi Gong and Tai Chi Chuan from China and other kinds of Yoga to gain a deep understanding of various methods related to both improving physical health and relaxing mental power.

Nowadays, Vietnam is appreciated and acknowledged as a unique nation in the world which maintains the regular practice of Laughter Yoga at many clubs every day, particularly in the morning. I haven’t changed the typical Indian Laughter Yoga into a new Vietnamese version. I only added four new lessons:

• Warm-up: Using laughter lessons to activate breath circulation and the movement of 12 pulses in order to create relaxation and child-like innocence.
• Breathing lesson: Focusing on the lessons related to improving breathing, blood circulation and breathing control.
• Laughing lesson: Including all the laughing lessons in the world (most countries only do this type)
• Combined lesson: Combining all the lessons to release stress, bring about a peaceful feeling and enjoy the simple happiness of daily life.

Adding new lessons not only helps participants gain many benefits for both their physical and mental health, but also makes Laughter Yoga become an effective morning exercise.

When did the Laughter Yoga Club in Hanoi start? As a club leader, do you have any orientation for the club activities?

The Vietnamese Laughter Yoga Club was officially established on May 19, 2009. Since this day is also Ho Chi Minh’s birthday, it means that every birthday of Vietnamese Laughter Yoga will be full of laughter and happiness.

The Vietnamese Laughter Yoga club in Hanoi started on February 12, 2011 at Ly Thai To Flower Garden Park.

I have a dream that Vietnamese people will be friendly to one another and always give everybody friendly smiles in every situation. I think Vietnam will soon be honored as a happy country, and Hanoi will be regarded as the laughter capital.

To make my dream come true, I have been building a program called “Happiness in schools” that will be applied in all the junior and senior high schools, as well as colleges and universities, throughout the country. I have also been working to establish a training course called “Friendly service” targeting companies and enterprises specializing in providing services.

In the next 3 years (by 2015), I will develop Laughter Yoga clubs in 35 provinces and cities. I am trying to build up a perfect system of video, CD, VCD, DVD and guidebooks of Laughter Yoga practice. They are expected to be completed by the end of 2012.

How many members have joined your Laughter Yoga clubs so far? How many of them are core members?

Generally there is no exact number of members in all the public Laughter Yoga clubs in Vietnam. However, in the Laughter Yoga club at Ly Thai To Flower Garden park, there are more than 800 members. Presently, there are eight Laughter Yoga clubs at many parks in Hanoi. The number of Laughter Yoga students has increased to more than 100,000.

For example, about 1000-3000 students at 43 universities and colleges as well as 20 high schools participate in Laughter Yoga lessons of the soft-skill training program. Similarly more than 100 businesses and companies have attended Laughter Yoga classes since 2009. I have collected the statistics on my own, excluding statistics from other organizations and associations.

Laughter Yoga has grown quickly and strongly in major cities such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Thai Nguyen, Thanh Hoa, and Hai Phong. About 300 members have received Club Leader certificates.

Can you please give us the statistics of the ages and gender of Laugher Yoga students in Hanoi?

These are the statistics of public Laughter Yoga clubs at morning exercises:

Female: 80%
15-30 year-old: 10%
30-40 year-old: 30%
40-55 year-old: 45%
55-70 year-old: 10%
Other ages: 5%

At schools and organizations, the members are from all kinds of social class. However, they don’t practice as regularly as those at public clubs.

Do any members of your family take part in the club?

All my family members practice Laughter Yoga, except for my father because he doesn’t have time. I’m also planning to open a local club near my house so that my family can practice Laughter Yoga more regularly. I’m working in Hanoi while my family lives 20km away from the city.

Why not laugh to cheer up your life? I hope you lead a life full of happiness and laughter.

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