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Thursday, 29 November 2012 16:49

Giggling guru says “laugh yourself to good health”

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laughing-person-485India's "guru of giggling" Madan Kataria, who has got thousands of people guffawing globally in pursuit of better health, has an unexpected confession—he hasn't got a very good sense of humour.

 "But you don't require one to laugh," chortles Kataria, founder of "Laughter Yoga", a movement that has attracted fans worldwide including celebrities Oprah Winfrey and Goldie Hawn.

Studies already suggest laughter releases feel-good endorphins, the brain chemicals that are linked with a sense of wellbeing.

 "Laughing is the healthiest thing you can do—it's the best medicine," said the towering, bald 58-year-old, whose movement has inspired thousands of "Laughter Clubs" in India and around the world from Beirut to Dublin.

"Laughter is more about social connection and bonding than something being funny," Amit Sood, a doctor at the Mayo Clinic in the United States, told AFP.

"Studies show all kinds of benefits from laughter from better immunity and coping skills, lower stress, better relationships to improved digestion," he said.

Many Indian parks now host sessions every morning with peals of laughter ringing out from people standing in groups.

 "It relaxes me. If I laugh in the morning, the rest of the day goes well," said Lisa Singh, 39, one regular "laugher" in New Delhi.

Kataria, who runs his non-profit Laughter Yoga Institute with a dozen employees from his Mumbai home, says one needs a full 15-to-20 minutes of giggling daily to reap the full benefits.

 Researchers believe it may be the use of abdominal muscles in laughing that triggers the release of endorphins—a phenomenon also associated with exercise, such as running.

 "It's not enough to just watch a funny movie because you just laugh a few seconds at a funny line—you need to laugh for a stretch to get the rewards," Kataria said.

Now , laughing guru Kataria  is setting up a "Laughter University" in the southern city of Bangalore on land donated by a building contractor and $250,000 from an anonymous tycoon.

Kataria envisions holding laughter sessions and conferences at the centre and setting up an alternative medicine unit to expand medical knowledge about the beneficial health effects of laughter.

"When you laugh you're joyful—you're living in the moment."

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(c) 2012 AFP

Read 5874 times Last modified on Thursday, 29 November 2012 17:12

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