Bangalore: 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 Bangalore'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
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 Bangalore
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 enrolment. 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
"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
"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: "Bangalore 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,"
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