On the principle that laughter is the best medicine, Mumbai doctor Madan Kataria and his wife Madhuri – aka “the Giggling Gurus” – have created a new kind of therapy: hasya (laughter) yoga. There are now more than three hundred Laughter Clubs in India and many more worldwide; around fifty thousand people join the Laughter Day celebrations in Mumbai on the first Sunday of May each year, with tens of thousands more participating in seventy countries worldwide.

Fifteen-minute sessions start with adherents doing yogic breathing while chanting “Ho ho ha ha”, which develops into spontaneous “hearty laughter” (raising both hands in the air with the head tilting backwards), “milkshake laughter” (everyone laughs while making a gesture as if they are drinking milkshake), and “swinging laughter” (standing in a circle saying “aaee-oo-eee-uuu”) before the rather fearsome “lion laughter” (extruding the tongue fully with eyes wide open and hands stretched out like claws, and laughing from the tummy). The session then winds up with holding hands and the chanting of slogans (“We are the laughter club member [sic]…Y…E…S!”).

Laughter Clubs take place between 6am and 7am at various venues around the city, including Colaba Woods in Cuffe Parade and Juhu Beach. For the full story, go to laughteryoga.org.

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