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Laughter yoga in Tunisia
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08:32, November 10, 2008

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"Ho ha ha ha, Ho ha ha ha," said several women clapping their hands and walking barefoot in a bright room located in central Tunis.

After a while, repeated words became real laughs. Each woman roared with laughs in attempts to forget bad thoughts and try to see beyond her problems.

"Laugh is necessary to resolve any problem. If you're seeking for happiness, you'd better to look inside you. Happiness exists within you, in your thoughts and never comes from the outside," Dalila Ghariani, laughter yoga teacher, told her students.

To Ghariani, laughter yoga represents a way to improve health and well-being and promote peace in the world through personal transformation.

Sitting with their eyes closed and hands on their knees, the students breathe deeply as they try to be completely out of touch with the outside. Then lying on their backs in a circle, each happiness seeker made a big laugh over problems of stress, fear, pessimism and timidity.

"I have difficulties in breaking the ice first and keeping in touch with the others because of my shyness which made my life hard and meaningless," said a student who gave her name as Amel.

"Thanks to laughter yoga sessions, I feel better and more self-confident. They taught me how to accept myself as I am and to see the best side of the life. Otherwise we're doomed to die," Amel said wearing a big smile.

Ghariani explained that "laugh is able to change the way of thinking. It helps people to be positive and hopeful. Unfortunately, Tunisians are not aware of this magic therapy."

"They're seeking alternatives and sedatives to run from their problems and are not aware that they have the best solution in them which is laugh," she stressed.

Founded in 2004, Tunis laughter yoga club attracts an average of twenty people during a one-hour session per week.

Laughter yoga therapy, which was developed by Indian physician Dr. Madan Kataria in 1995, has witnessed 5,000 clubs in 40 countries.

To Aida Makhlouf, a 45-year-old employee, laughter yoga sessions open an outlet to escape from stress and to learn how to think positively and enjoy her life.

"If one of my kids is passing an exam, or if I want to have any project, I become anxious and I worry about the results," she said.

"I feel better and relaxed after session of laughing. Laughter yoga offers to me an opportunity to discover a positive energy inside me which is optimism and happiness."

With a population of about 10 million, Tunisia has one of the most modern economies in the Arab world. But sociologists say high unemployment and free market reforms have bred insecurity and individualism and made people morose.

A recent study showed nine percent of Tunisians suffered from anxiety, most of them women.

Source: Xinhua

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