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© Photo Courtesy of Anju Shahani

Laugh yourself healthy

by at 03/05/2012 20:28

Laughter and positive moods can sometimes be difficult to find in Moscow. The climate is, of course, tough, and even in the calmest parts of the world, life is not a bed of roses.

Depriving yourself of positive emotions, though, only makes things worse, and can even adversely affect your health.

A study done at the University of California-Irvine in 2002 proved that laughter reduces the level of stress hormones in the blood and increases the number of immune cells. If there is little cause in your life to laugh, however, fake laughter will also do, and laughter yoga, invented in India at the end of the 1990s, can help.

Same effects

A laughter yoga seminar in Moscow

© Photo / Courtesy of Anju Shahani

A laughter yoga seminar in Moscow

Dr. Madan Kataria, the inventor of laughter yoga, said that studies have shown there is no physiological difference for the body between real laughter, caused by a joke, or just some laughing exercises. A combination of exercises and yoga breathing, the method seems an easy and pleasant way to stay fit, relaxed, and in a good mood.

As World Laughter Day is celebrated on May 6, the Moscow Laughter Community decided to mark it with a party.

“World Laughter Day is being celebrated for the first time ever in Moscow,” Anju Shahani, who brought laughter yoga to Moscow, told The Moscow News. She first experienced laughter yoga in India about 10 years ago, and when she saw a program about it on television last fall, she was surprised that the movement still existed. Moreover, it was gaining popularity throughout the world, with a presence in 80 countries. Since Russia was not one of them, Shahani decided to bring it to Moscow herself.

“I decided to go to India, learn the technique and become a certified teacher to teach people how to organize classes and also to lead classes,” she said. With the help of many friends and contacts in Moscow yoga circles, she gave her first classes in February.

Restrained culture

Participants are taught how to perform laughing exercises

© Photo / Courtesy of Anju Shahani

Participants are taught how to perform laughing exercises

“The culture in Moscow is a little bit more conservative” Shahani said. “They don’t like to laugh, they laugh less. The first time I had my class it was about 22 people and they just couldn’t stop laughing, and I was shocked myself at how well it worked.”

It turned out that people just needed an excuse to give way to their emotions and have a good laugh. Shahani gives corporate classes for businessmen “who are constantly stressed out and need a quick and inexpensive outlet to de-stress,” she said. At her first session, it proved to be a very good team-building activity.

“A one-hour laughter session just before a management conference is a great ice-breaker to make everyone comfortable, connected, alert, relaxed,” she said.

One of her recent corporate clients was the Young Presidents’ Organization, a business network bringing together company presidents and CEOs globally. Currently, Shahani teaches four times a week at different yoga centers in Moscow. The schedule is on her web site, www.laughteryoga.ru 

World Laughter Day will be celebrated on the rooftop at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, 3 Tverskaya Ulitsa. The event starts at 11 a.m. with a laughter yoga class and is followed by brunch. Tickets cost 1,750 rubles each.

Read other articles of the print issue "The Moscow News #33"
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