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A campus to train people to laugh and breathe

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Last Updated: December 18, 2010, 16:45 IST

A campus to train people to laugh and breathe

Bengaluru will have "the world's first International Laughter University".

Bengaluru: Imagine a campus where you learn how to laugh instead of mugging up textbooks, where you are trained to accumulate health instead of wealth, where you don't lose sleep over exams and instead get cured of insomnia. A 'university' like that will soon be a reality on Bengaluru's outskirts!

The city, which is known as India's tech capital because of it being home to a few thousand IT and IT-related firms with thousands of young men and women who are stressed out by working late hours, will get a university that offers to train people to laugh and breathe properly for greater benefits of body and mind.

"If all goes well, then by April-May 2011, I will start my first certified Laughter Yoga teacher training in the university complex," Madan Kataria, the brain behind the 'university', told IANS.

Kataria, a physician from Mumbai, has earned a name by popularising 'Laughter Yoga' therapy that combines unconditional laughter with yogic breathing or 'pranayama'.

"The concept of Laughter Yoga is based on a scientific fact that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter. One gets the same physiological and psychological benefits," he said.

Kataria has bought 10 acres of land on the outskirts of Bengaluru for what he calls "the world's first International Laughter University". The land is about five kilometres away from the city on the road to Mysore.

Anyone is eligible to enrol at the university, but he is yet to work out the course structure and duration.

"It is a huge project. In the first phase, we will have an auditorium for conferences and conventions, training rooms, stay facility for 200 people, library, dining hall, meditation rooms, administrative block and staff residence.

"This will take nearly 18 months to two years. I have decided not to wait for the completion of phase one; instead I will start building mud houses - structures modelled like a village from where I can start my training programmes. This construction may take three months," he said.

The first phase of the project will cost between Rs 7 crore and Rs 10 crore, which includes funds for infrastructure development and the working capital.

Kataria plans to charge "affordable fee" for his courses. "We have not yet decided on any fee structure for enrollment. All I can say is it will be very reasonable and affordable".

The university will have several departments like traditional yoga, naturopathy, ayurveda, acupressure and acupuncture.

"As the underlying USP of the university is to de-stress and find an inner self capable of coping with life's challenges and maintaining a healthy and positive attitude of body and mind, we have proposed some unusual departments for the Laughter Yoga University.

"Laughter Yoga is a health-building system and it has great connection with traditional yoga. Therefore, we have decided to set up the department of yoga, where people can get a deep knowledge of traditional yoga.

"We are also incorporating different systems of healing like naturopathy, ayurveda and acupressure in order to help people attain good health in a natural way rather than depending on drugs and medicines," Kataria said.

He calls it a "university" though there is a raging controversy over 'deemed' universities with several institutions misleading the public with fancy names.

"This is the world's first unconventional university which does not offer any academic qualifications and degree courses. Instead, it will teach people how to live and how to bring more laughter, joy, happiness and good health into their lives.

"Instead of degree courses, there will be certified teacher and leadership training so that people can start laughter groups in parks, community centres, companies, colleges and schools for physically and mentally handicapped, police, old, etc.," Kataria said.

"Laughter Yoga has exploded all over the world as it has helped people regain good health from a variety of illnesses like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, insomnia, depression, arthritis, asthma and even cancer," he said.

On the response to his plans, Kataria said: "Bengaluru is the heart of the laughter movement with more than 200 laughter clubs, which is the highest in the world in a city.

"All laughter club members are looking forward to this venture and are enthusiastic and proud to have the university in their city," he said.

first published:December 18, 2010, 16:45 IST
last updated:December 18, 2010, 16:45 IST