Laughter Yoga for Special Needs
Living with a disability is a huge challenge and can be hard to deal with. It can lead to severe mental trauma and stress. People are prone to negative feelings and emotions that undermines all rationality and gives rise to a confusing mindset regarding one’s own image and capabilities. One undergoes an all time low and sensations of self pity and self worthless set in. Laughter Yoga has the ability to elevate the mood state; it helps cope with physical and mental disability and provides relief from feelings of negativity. The group dynamics of Laughter Yoga leads to more openness and enables people to share their grief. Exercises and deep breathing relax the body and mind and help one to accept reality. Laughter Clubs are a safe haven for people to release their inner feelings without fear and pain. Laughter catharsis is a great technique for emotional release and balance.
Laughter Yoga with Cerebral Palsy (CP)
People with Cerebral Palsy experience different grades of paralysis and as a result, their body movements are restricted with most of them in wheelchairs. In many CP centres, Laughter Yoga is a part of the daily routine. Karen Kong (LY teacher) from Malaysia has been conducting LY sessions with CP patients for many years and she has found that it has improved their mental state and motor skills.
Laughter Yoga with Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) affects the ability of the nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord to communicate with each other. This is an autoimmune and currently there is no known cure. However, laughter brings about positive changes and chemical reactions in the brain that have potential benefits for people with MS. Studies have repeatedly found that laughter has both physiological as well as psychological benefits. It not only makes them feel better, it helps the body to heal.
Laughter Yoga with the Blind
Visually impaired people are also prone to depression and frustration. Laughter Yoga exercises can help them overcome their negative mental state making them more positive helping them deal with their issues. Blind people have an extraordinary talent for music and combining this ability with laughter makes it an enjoyable experience. We have introduced Laughter Yoga in many Schools for the blind including India, Japan and Taiwan with very positive results.
Deaf and Mute children
Deaf and mute children can benefit from Laughter Yoga as it improves their speech and communication skills. In India, we have implemented this program in Nashik, Bangalore and Udaipur with excellent results. In these children the primary problem is hearing, which impairs their speech also. With the help of their sign language teacher, it becomes easier to conduct Laughter Yoga with children. Teachers reported that during Laughter Yoga sessions the children were screaming with joy and that they had never heard the sound of laughter before.
Laughter Yoga with Prisoners
After visiting the Laughter Clubs and Arthur Road Prison in Mumbai, famous British Actor and Comedian John Cleese said: “I’m struck by how laughter connects you with people. It’s almost impossible to maintain any kind of distance or any sense of social hierarchy when you’re just howling with laughter. Laughter is a force for democracy”.
Dr Kataria shares this story with us: Some years ago, famous English actor
John Cleese came to Mumbai, to make a BBC documentary titled ‘‘Human Face’’ and Laughter
Clubs of India were a part of that series. During his visit, I took him to Arthur Road
prison for a laughter session with the prisoners, which was a humbling experience. I
obtained permission from the police authorities to hold the session among the undertrials.
An hour before, I went to the overcrowded prison premises, to build a rapport with them. As
I explained the concept, about 70-80 prisoners opted to join the laughter session. I was not
too sure whether they would laugh or not, because they looked sad, angry and depressed. Some
of them had mask-like faces. After initial hesitation, they opened up and laughed
uproariously, as if all their anger had transformed into laughter. At the end of the
session, everybody seemed happy and asked when they would laugh like this again.
I spoke to many prisoners after the session, and realized they harbored a lot of anger and depression inside of them which needed to be removed, in order to prevent them from committing further acts of crime once released from jail. Laughter Yoga is an ideal method, which helps to resolve these long standing negative emotions in criminals, putting them into a positive frame of mind. Introducing laughter in prisons worldwide will help not just the prisoners but also the jail staff, warden and others who constantly live under pressure and stress.
Laughter Yoga with Police/Military and Paramilitary
With rising crime rates, police personnel are under tremendous stress. Laughter Yoga is a great stress buster exercise with many police training centres in India including it in their morning drill. We also introduced LY in a commando training centre in Bangalore where they were subjected to very strenuous training. Soldiers felt more enthusiastic, energized and stress free. Military training centres in the city of Bangalore are including LY exercises in their morning program.