The Hongkongers out to laugh their way into the record books

'Guru of giggling' Madan Kataria says laughter yoga therapy he pioneered causes the body to release 'feel good' hormones into the bloodstream

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 May, 2015, 4:08pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 May, 2015, 4:08pm

More than 1,000 elderly Hongkongers will attempt to laugh their way into the record books on Saturday by taking part in the biggest laughter yoga class.

The joviality, starting at 2pm and lasting an hour, at Sha Tsui Road in Tsuen Wan, is the highlight of a Hong Kong Jockey Club-funded project, Promotion of Laughter Yoga to the Elderly. The record attempt will be led by Dr Madan Kataria, known as the "guru of giggling", who created the concept along with his yoga instructor wife in 1995. Celebrities Joyce Cheng Yan-yee and Kandy Wong Shan-yee will also take part in the record attempt.

“We are confident that we can break the Guinness World Record with more than 1,000 elderly people,” a spokeswoman for the event said. “The current record for the largest laughter yoga class is 398 participants, at an event organised by Sunflowerfest Unlimited CIC (UK) in Hillsborough, Northern Ireland, on August 24 last year.”

Watch Dr Madan Kataria lead a laughter yoga class

Saturday's event is timed to take place the day before World Laughter Day, which was created by Kataria in 1998 and occurs each year on the first Sunday in May.

Kataria says on his website that a key objective of combining yoga with laughing out loud is to promote world peace.

“Some people find this idea fanciful, but an understanding of the science of emotions and emotional contagion in particular shows how this might be achieved,” he says. “The practice of laughter yoga causes the body to release certain ‘feel good’ hormones into the bloodstream related to feelings of happiness, warmth, unconditional love, bonding, tolerance, forgiveness, generosity and compassion.”

Kataria will be tomorrow’s “laughter leader”, guiding the elderly participants through laughter exercises and helping to cultivate childlike playfulness. This can include any kind of silliness, from singing ridiculous songs to doing daft dances and pulling stupid faces.

The Jockey Club Charities Trust has funded the campaign since 2013 and enlisted laughter yoga ambassadors of all ages to spread the message that laughter is the best medicine.

During his visit to Hong Kong, Kataria is also hosting a fun night for youth and “happy laughter yoga training courses”.