Local News

Let laughter offer a cure

February 6 - 12, 2019

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

Gulf Weekly Let laughter offer a cure

No joke, expat Keyem Thomez is spreading merry cheer and positivity across the kingdom by staging a series of laughter-style sessions and festivals to help boost morale, decrease stress and to strengthen people’s immune systems.

After all, the saying goes that ‘laughter is the best medicine’ and more people are turning to Laughter Yoga to find inner peace and fulfillment. They recently gathered at the Bahrain Festive Laughter event in Juffair.

“Laughter yoga is a revolutionary idea,” said Keyem, 57, a personal officer at St Christopher’s School. “It is an exercise routine made up of a combination of deep breathing exercise from yoga and laughter exercises.

“The concept of Laughter Yoga is based on the scientific fact that our body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter. We get the same physiological and psychological benefits including relieving stress, depression and anxiety.

“It also strengthens the immune system, relieves pain naturally and improves breathing and increases oxygen to the body and the brain. Our mission is to bring good health, joy and world peace through laughter.”

The practice originated in India when Dr Madan Kataria from Mumbai believed that more laughter was needed to improve health and cope with the stress of modern living. He started a quest to find ways that laughter could be prescribed to patients by field-testing the impact of a good chuckle. In March 1995, he launched the first Laughter Club starting with five people.

These founding members laughed together in a park to the amusement of bystanders and eventually, the small group grew to 50 strong. When the jokes dried up, further findings revealed that even a forced hearty guffaw produced ‘happy chemistry’ and Laughter Yoga was born.

Now, the practice is a worldwide movement with more than 20,000 laughter clubs in 102 countries.

Keyem, who lives in Zinj, co-founded the Kerala Catholic Association’s (KCA) Laughter Club in Bahrain along with friend P U Devassy.

Keyem was trained by Dr Madan and is now a laughter ambassador in the Middle East, the founder of four clubs in Bahrain and The Laughing Toastmasters. He has also attended as a guest speaker and presenter at laughter conferences in Italy, Malaysia, Germany and France, and conducted sessions in Vietnam, the UAE, Oman, Turkey, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Cambodia and Thailand.

The January festive session proved to be a resounding success. “Laughter yoga is the tool to bring more happiness and joy into life,” Keyem added. “Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring mind and body back into balance than a good laugh.”

Attendees agreed. Among those holding hands in a circle and giving it his best giggle, was Ed Bhaskaran, 59, an investor and company director who lives in Budaiya, said: “It was a fun event. I advise others to take it up as it’s so good for both mental and physical well-being.”

Manager Biju Prabhakaran, who lives in Mahooz, and describes himself as ‘17 at heart’, said: “Laughter Yoga keeps me energetic and lively and that’s what many miss from their daily work schedules. I like to keep myself active, laughing and enjoying life.”

Saira Ranj, 45, who recently moved to Seef with her 14-year-old daughter, Kirtna, said: “I was told to come in comfortable clothes and be ready to dance and laugh…and we did!”

The Laughter Club meets at the KCA, in Segaiya monthly. The next laughter yoga session will be staged on Saturday at Khadija Plaza 2 from 4.30pm to 5.30pm. For more information, email keyem21@gmail.com or call 39867041.

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