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New clubs set to raise a smile

AN alternative form of therapy that is guaranteed to raise a smile is taking Bahrain by storm.

Laughter yoga has become so popular that another three clubs are on the verge of opening to keep up with demand.

Bahrain's first laughter yoga club was launched in 2003 by K M Thomas, who brought the concept here after training under the movement's founder in India.

It has since expanded and there are now four clubs across the country - each holding at least two sessions a week.

Until now there has been no room for new members, but Mr Thomas' efforts have earned him the title of Laughter Ambassador - giving him authority to licence more people to launch their own clubs.

"Laughter yoga has become extremely popular in the last year," he said.

"So much so that clubs have to turn away people who want to join.

"It is not just the clubs. Businesses are also realising that it can boost the productivity of its workers and have invited me for leadership, summer and wellness camps.

"It makes their staff feel better by relieving stress and making them happy, which in turn leads them to be more motivated workers."

Laughter yoga is at its core a combination of laughter therapy and yoga, combining the benefits of both into one routine.

It first emerged in 1995, but has grown rapidly and there are now more than 7,000 laughter clubs in 70 countries.

"Laughter yoga has been mostly adopted by the Indian community, but we are seeing a lot of Europeans now joining in as they realise the health benefits," said Mr Thomas.

"Each centre has two meetings a week, each accommodating 25 students - which means there are very limited places for people to join in.

"All the clubs are full, so what has been happening is that more and more people are approaching me to start their own clubs.

"As I trained under the founder, it is my responsibility to delegate a laughter yoga leader who can lead the group in the correct way.

"In the next few months I am expecting at least another two or three clubs to be opened."

Mr Thomas claims that laughter yoga can help in the healing process for many ailments and diseases, including cancer.

"Through laughter the body releases endorphins which relax, relieve stress and increase the effectiveness of the immune system," he said.

"We even have a few pupils who have joined on the recommendation of their doctors.

"It can be used for those with arthritis, to lower blood pressure and diabetes.

"It even has benefits that can help recover from cancer as laughter increases the oxygen supply, which ensures faster recovery."

Social clubs, organisations, schools who would like to organise laughter yoga sessions or to start regular laughter clubs can call Mr Thomas on 39867041 or e-mail keyem21@gmail.com.

ahmed@gdn.com.bh



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