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Saturday, 01 November 2014

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Keith’s having a laugh – no, really, he is!

I reckon Keith Adams may be onto something. He might actually have put his finger on a trick that’s close to useful.

Keith Adams photo
Keith Adams

He calls himself a Laughter Yoga leader – but don’t hold that against him. He’s just a bit funny, that’s all.

It’s good to be funny. Keith – a former Carlisle City Council worker – believes wholeheartedly in funniness.

He’s totally sold on the sizeable health benefits of laughter. If he had his way, we’d all be giggling all over the place – almost all of the time – which probably makes him clinically silly. But hey, there are worse things than silly.

So, when Keith emerged from the alternative healthcare ether this week, to set about organising a laughter walk around Talkin Tarn, I confess my funny bone twitched.

Not far from home; completely, utterly and legitimately bonkers and healthy to boot. Might just have to try a bit of that.

Apparently the plan is to stride out around the water’s edge, flailing arms like windmill blades, pulling clown-like faces at the ducks and laughing like a gleeful seaside policeman.

The tricky bit comes with having to do all this stone cold sober at a time when there really isn’t a great deal to laugh about.

But seemingly, while all this pacing and giggling is going on, your endorphins will be racing like there’s no tomorrow, giving the brain a natural high, the body a spirited buzz and – best of all – they can’t touch you for it... unless you’ve forgotten to pay your car parking charge, that is.

Always having had a soft spot for bonkers people, Keith strikes me as just the kind of character we could do with a lot more of.

That said, I’m not entirely sure how one qualifies as a Laughter Yoga practitioner. Are there short courses at the University of Cumbria for such an esteemed professional position? Is there an evening class for mature students over the age of 37 – which I am?

Are there degrees in Laughter Yoga, involving long hours of study of Buster Keaton movies, Morecambe and Wise Christmas shows and reel-to-reel tapes of The Goons?

And since it’s a form of yoga, do you have to hook one ankle around the back of your neck while playing Bring Me Sunshine on an electronic keyboard with the toes of your other foot, to gain the appropriate pass mark?

It’s an important question. I don’t do contortion, not even in private at home on bank holidays.

The idea supposedly comes from Dr Madan Kataria, a physician from Mumbai, India. Dr Kataria formed the first Laughter Club in 1995 and now Laughter Yoga is said to be a phenomenon all around the world, in Carlisle and at Talkin Tarn.

Quite an amazing spread that, to say it’s based on the simplest of scientific theories that the body can benefit even from fake laughter. Once the doctor realised the same psychological and physiological effects came from real laughter and the forced kind, the global sweep was off and running.

Irritating, don’t you think? All the best inventions come from blindingly obvious discoveries. Anyone who has had to watch Michael McIntyre on TV will have known immediately the difference between genuine and forced laughter. We could all have been heroes in the blink of a laughter-lined eye, had we been a touch more switched on.

We didn’t, because we weren’t. No wonder India is one of the word’s fastest growing economies. No wonder they can’t stop laughing.

Too late now. The books and videos are already out, the worldwide clubs are packing them in and Keith Adams – a member of the UK Laughter Network – will lead the first meeting this year of the Carlisle Laughter and Happiness Club on a silly walk round Talkin Tarn next month.

That’ll have to do – but it’s not so bad for a start. Slip into your silliest wellies, pull on a daft hat, wear a big stupid grin and get out with the gigglers.

Weather and bad moods permitting, I’ll see you there.

 

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