It’s open-mic night and the comedy club at the corner is filled with people pretty much rolling on the floor laughing. The stand-up act tonight is brilliant! People can’t stop talking about the hilarious jokes. The faces are cheerful and the moods bright. The fans of comedy chit-chat surround the buffet table, discussing in all seriousness, the ‘funny’ business. Exclamations are heard at the end of every sentence praising the magic of comedy. Laughter is indeed the best medicine, all concur. Plans to attend the next comedy night are etched in stone, right before the happy, beaming folks call it a night.
Just then, a question raises its head. ‘How to get laughs when there’s no comedy event to go to?’ Television? Of course, television! It’s kind of a no-brainer—sitcoms and variety shows have long assumed the responsibility of destressing harried souls everywhere. But when the television show ends, and the stand-up wraps up for the night, the laughter disappears into the reality of life. What then is the antidote to the frown lurking at every nook and corner of life? It is laughing for the sake of laughing. Laughing without a joke, a quip or a dig.
For these reasons and more, laughter yoga came into being and very quickly, morphed into a world movement. Dr. Madan Kataria, the man behind this thought, the idea and its propagation, swears by laughing for no reason at all. In a freewheeling conversation with Soulveda, the doctor of happiness talks about the birth of laughter yoga, its journey into the world, and its evolution to its present avatar.
At what point in your life did you begin to share a special connection with laughter?
Laughing without any reason came as a revelation to me. As a young boy back in my village, I had never heard a joke. I didn’t know what a joke was. In village life, laughter came naturally to us. It’s like little children or two friends talking to each other and laughing. While living in the city, even the best of jokes didn’t crack me up. This is how I learned we don’t always need a joke to laugh.