San Diegans Make ‘Em Laugh With Laughter Yoga Practice
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
By Claire Trageser
A group of people are gathered on a Saturday morning in Balboa Park to laugh hysterically. But there's no comedy show in town, no knock knock joke convention and no mind-altering substances have been imbibed.
Instead, these people are practicing what they call Laughter Yoga. The exercise has very little traditional yoga and a lot of laughing, but the participants don’t seem to mind. They take pretend laughter pills, tell jokes in gibberish, howl at each other and lie on a tarp on the ground, all to encourage themselves—and each other—to laugh.
Believe it or not, Coleman is a lawyer. But he also leads laughter yoga classes and started a nonprofit called Laughter Matters to bring laughter exercises to the elderly, homeless and people with mental illness and drug and alcohol problems. Whatever your problem, Coleman says laughing can help.
Laughter yoga was first started in 1995 by Madan Kataria, a doctor in India (or "The Guru of Giggling," as he's now known). Kataria was convinced of the medical benefits of laughter, so he started a laughter club. A small group of people gathered in a park, told jokes and laughed. Problem is, the jokes quickly became mean or vulgar.
Now San Diego has one of the biggest laughter yoga communities in the country. Coleman’s nonprofit has trained 80 people who lead hundreds of classes.