Thursday, November 10, 2011

Laughter Yoga in the State Bank of India

I have had the privilege of introducing Laughter Yoga in the State Bank of India and laughing with thousands of my colleagues during the last year.

I have recently completed thirty-two years of my service in the State Bank of India. It has given me bread, butter and a respectable place in the society. Now, it is time that I give back something to this great institution. I am sure my humble contribution will bring cheer to some of the souls here. I would like to be remembered as a messenger of love and laughter when I retire from the Bank.

We started the journey of laughter on the 13th of September, 2010 when we inaugurated the Laughter Club of State Bank Learning Centre, Indore with a bunch of newly promoted officers. Whoever came to the learning centre after that has had a brush with laughter yoga. We laughed every morning with a small group of willing laughers from all the groups who poured in week after week. A shining feather in our cap was training thirteen young trainee officers as laughter yoga leaders who eventually earned internationally recognized certification while they were at the campus. How can one ever forget the fun evening filled with gibberish nonsense, laughter exercises, singing-dancing-play-laughter and games arranged by newly recruited assistants!

I got opportunity twice to make presentations at the grand auditorium of the State Bank Academy, Gurgaon before officers from all over the country. I am really grateful to the General Manager and Principal who participated in the laughter sessions with total childlike playfulness on both the occasions which has engraved a deep respect for him deep in my heart.

It seems that the Almighty has been showering copious blessings from the top. I also showcased laughter yoga at the State Bank Staff College and State Bank Institute of Information and Communication Management located in Hyderabad. I conducted a laughter yoga session for bank guards, assistants, probationary officers and faculty at the State Bank Learning Centre, Goa. It was a unique experience as all of them laughed from their being level making it absolutely difficult to distinguish differences in their grades as they laughed like kids.

Last week, we have started Chetana Laughter Club at our new State Bank Foundation Institute (Chetana), Indore set up to groom fresh officers of the Bank. Henceforth every new officer of the Bank will have a tryst with laughter yoga at the beginning of her career and ‘Very Good Very Good Yay’ as her mantra.

The laughter virus has meanwhile spread to other centres – Kanpur, Lucknow, Goa, Nagda, Nagapattinam etc. – through some well meaning trainers and officers. It is indeed good to hear that those who laughed with us for a while, have gone back and started propagating laughter it in their own way. What more can one desire!

I have put up the concept of laughter yoga briefly before the Chief General Manager and Head of the Strategic Training Unit and he seemed to like it. The former CGM and Head was all for it and mentioned it to the Deputy Managing Director and Corporate Development Officer when she visited Indore to inaugurate State Bank Foundation Institute. She already knew a lot about the benefits of laughter yoga and appreciated the endeavour of using it in human resources trainings.

I am also grateful to the Director of my Institute for permitting me to use laughter yoga as ice-breaker, energizer and wellness routine during the training programmes.

My mission is to touch the lives of all the two hundred and twenty-two thousand employees of the State Bank of India with Laughter Yoga for their health, happiness and well-being.

(Before I close, I would like to share that my wife Radhika has been with me all along in this mission.)

- Jagat Singh Bisht

Monday, May 9, 2011

Laughter Yoga is a Divine Life Skill

The compliment that I cherish most came from Anurag, my 24-year old son. He loves adventure sports and takes care of fire and safety hazards at Nestle. I was visiting Gurgaon, the town where he works, and was suddenly asked to do a presentation on Laughter Yoga. When I told him about it, he remarked, “Papa, this is a unique life skill you have acquired. You can do it anytime, anywhere, for anyone. Now, you have the heavenly gift of giving joy to other beings. That is really wonderful.”
This insight coming from a youngster is amazing. I had gone to attend a workshop on leadership skills at the State Bank Academy. It was an awfully cold morning – the earlier day was the coldest in the last 46 years. There were 44 participants, all senior officials of the Bank, in the workshop. When the Principal of the Academy came to address the participants, he observed, “The energy level appears to be low. I have never witnessed something like this at the beginning of any programme. What’s the reason?”
One of us responded,” It is terribly cold and foggy, sir. We are not used to such a climate. Our flights landed very late in the night. It was chilling cold and windy. We have not had enough sleep. Moreover, we carry a lot of stress in our roles as such.”
As the class didn’t appear to take-off convincingly, I requested for a 5-minute slot and assured that the class would cheer up in a while. The Principal was magnanimous enough. I asked everyone to clap and chant ‘hoho-hahaha’ and ‘very good very good yay’ and followed it up with a few laughter exercises. The atmosphere brightened instantly and there was warmth all around.
Thereafter, we did some laughter exercises every morning before the start of sessions and everyone relished it. I also did a presentation on Laughter Yoga in the auditorium where several officers of the Bank, senior and junior, from all over India were present. The presentation was well received. After a few months, I went there again with my wife, Radhika, to give one more presentation before a much bigger audience.
We have done sessions for school children, housewives and elders. Everyone loves it. We are regularly invited to a reputed yoga and naturopathy centre in our town for laughter therapy. The feedback from patients is very positive.
One of the members of our laughter club told us that her parents stayed at a remote place far away and felt lonely. She learned the steps of laughter yoga from us and jotted down some exercises which would be more suitable for them. Now, she has gone to them and would be spreading some good cheer in the neighbourhood.
Laughter Yoga can be done for those in the orphanages, hospitals and prisons. The educational institutions are very conducive to Laughter Yoga. It takes stress out of workplaces and makes life vibrant for those who feel lonely.
We were curiously watching sunrise with many tourists in a hill station recently. As the sun came up, everyone was thrilled and clicked their cameras vigorously. Then, after introducing ourselves as Laughter Yoga trainers to the crowd, we requested them to join us for a brief session of laughter exercises before moving back. All agreed readily. A short but sweet session followed and the joy of watching the sun rise was enhanced manifold.
Laughter Yoga is truly an invaluable life skill which we can use to bring joy to all around us anytime, anywhere. It is Divine!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Laughter Yoga: A Return Gift of Everlasting Cheer to the Society

My journey of Laughter Yoga (LY) has been a very fulfilling and satisfying one. I feel blessed to practice LY almost daily with a large number of people and bring joy to their lives. I express my sincere gratitude to Dr Madan Kataria and Madhuri Kataria who have imparted this divine life skill by which I can touch human lives instantly, anywhere and at any time.

I have been closely studying Positive Psychology and Authentic Happiness for a long time and believe that doing something worthwhile and meaningful for your fellow beings and intimate social interactions with those around you alone brings true happiness. LY is the best tool to achieve this. We can have warm relationships with people and also bring unlimited joy in their lives.

I always wanted to give back something to the great institution where I have been working for more than thirty-one years. I also wished I could inculcate positive values in school children and bring smiles on the faces of the sick and old people. The society has given me so much and I wanted to give a return gift of everlasting cheer to its people. LY has equipped and enabled me to do that on a continuous basis, each and every day of my life.

I was a shy kid and a studious student. I always wanted to sing, dance, play and laugh freely in groups. Now, I can do that and also make others experience joy by doing that.

We have formed a social group Laughter Yoga @ Indore comprising of LY lovers and professionals in Indore, India. Our mission is to propagate LY in and around our town for health, wellness, joy and peace. We wish to take it to the schools, colleges, workplaces, communities, hospitals, clubs, gyms, slums, old age homes, orphanages and even prisons.

We run two regular laughter clubs here. Suniket Laughter Club meets every Sunday morning for LY exercises at the Shrinagar Extension Public Park, Indore. In addition, my wife, Radhika, who is also a Certified LY Teacher, holds Ladies' Laughter Kitty every Saturday evening  at the Community Hall of Suniket Apartments, Shrinagar Extension, Khajarana Road, Indore.

Laughter Club of State Bank Learning Centre, Indore was formally launched on the 13th September 2010 at the State Bank Learning Centre, Manik Bagh Road, Indore. It is a unique laughter club. Every week, new trainees come to the centre for learning. They join the club, leave by the week-end and spread laughter back at their homes. Next week, another set of new participants join, and so on..

I first saw Dr K and Madhuri conducting a laughter session at the Lokhandwala Park, Mumbai, India more than a decade ago and feel overwhelmed to conduct laughter sessions with my wife Radhika at Indore. It has transformed our lives totally. Our joy knew no bounds when Dr K remarked recently, “You are doing a wonderful job. I am proud of Radhika and you!”

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Laughter Yoga with Carolyn and Des

Carolyn Laughalot and Desmond Nicholson, Laughter Yoga Leaders from Eltham Laughter Club, Melbourne, Australia visited Suniket Laughter Club and Laughter Club of State Bank Learning Centre, Indore, India under the exchange programme of Laughter Yoga International Clubs. They also giggled with the school girls of Sarada Ramakrishna School, Indore and laughed with their teachers.

It was an enriching experience for the members of these clubs in Indore as Carolyn and Desmond enthralled them with the Victorian flavour of Laughter Yoga, especially Kangaroo Laughter, Giggle and Wriggle, New Zealand Rugby Hakka Laughter and Donkey Laughter.

Carolyn and Desmond were guests of Dr Madan Kataria, the founder of Laughter Yoga, at Bangalore. They stayed with us at Indore and we had deep discussions till late in the night on the inner spirit of laughter, new laughter exercises and the manner in which we conduct laughter sessions.

While we appreciated their fusion of energy healing and dance with Laughter Yoga, they loved Follow-the-Leader and Singing+Dancing+Playing+Laughing=Joy incorporated in our laughter sessions. While switching between laughter, they used Hoho Hahaha and deep breathing; whereas in our clubs we use Very Good Very Good Yay more often. They loved Cricket Laughter exercise created in our club and Desmond added a piece to it.

I prepared Indian Chai (Tea) for them every morning while my wife Radhika, who is also a Laughter Teacher, cooked Poha (Rice flakes) for them in the Indorean style which they relished. My mother, who is almost 80 years old, usually doesn’t prefer to move out of house, accompanied us for an excursion to nearby Maheshwar and Mandu, which are places of great historical value, as she felt that it would be too long a day without her new found daughter Carolyn. I had long, leisurely strolls with Desmond, who has a great sense of humour, in the evenings and talked about everything from Cricket to Kashmir and Australian grapes to Indian wine.

We would like to express our gratitude to Dr Madan Kataria who arranged this exchange and would like to share that it has been a really great motivating experience for the laughter lovers in this part of the country.