Laughter yoga: free but very good medicine

2011-06-25 00:00

"Laugh it off!" This is the best advice Dr Suraj Narayan can offer in these highly stressful times, with the economy still struggling to recover from the 2009 recession, employment opportunities as scarce as hen’s teeth and more people appearing to get divorced than married.

“It’s the easiest and most pro-active way to deal with negative emotion, and it works,” said this award winning medical researcher.

If Dr Narayan’s advice sounds laughable, she does come highly recommended and boasts a solid track record.

A Ph.D with a focus on social work and community development, she stumbled on “Laughter Yoga” while looking for a way to make the loss of her sister to cancer more bearable.

“I lost my sister in 2006 and she was the funniest person I knew, she made light of everything.

“Searching the net, I came across the form of yoga that combines laughter.

“I e-mailed Dr Kataria who specialised in the concept in Bangelore, India and he was excited by my interest,” she said.

So enthusiastic was he, that the doctor sent a trainer to teach Dr Narayan the fundamentals of Laughter Yoga.

“In 2009 my daughter and I went to Switzerland as part of our training and last year, we were honoured by the Oprah Magazine for making creative and positive changes in South Africa.

“In April we went to Dubai to present our research at the Africa Asia Medical Congress.

“In Dubai, we were among some of the world’s finest medical practitioners and researchers. One would think that something like “laughing” would not be taken seriously — but we actually won the award for Best Health Study,” she said.

The actual therapy she said, means to simply laugh for no apparent reason and combine it with Yoga breathing and exercises.

“First timers will find it a bit ludicrous, but in numbers, it becomes spontaneous — my biggest group was 4 000 people at a rally in Phoenix, quite a spectacle,” she said.

Dr Narayan deals with several outreach programmes — among her successes were Aids orphans, abused children; abused women etc.

“It’s innovative, affordable and simple — so just laugh.

“It’s a therapy that is as old as time and it really works,” she said.

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