Category Archives: Travel

Laughter Yoga Therapy

Credit Richard Duszczak

Credit: Richard Duszczak

The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word “Yuj”, meaning to yoke, to integrate, to harmonise. It means union, or connection – with your own body, with your thoughts, with the world around you, your environment, and also your breath. Your breath acts as a bridge between your mind and your body – a constant exchange of energy, a mirroring between your physical and mental being – when you deepen your breath, you calm your body by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. When you calm your body, you calm your mind, and when both your mind and your body are at ease, then you start to become more relaxed in the present moment. This ability to be fully present in “the now” is the key to finding happiness, because we can only experience happiness in this present moment. We cannot feel an emotion in the past or the future, only now. Being present allows us to forget about the emotions of our past and the anxieties of the future, and enjoy simply being.

The practice of yoga asana, which is what most of us would recognise as yoga, is a means of using the unity of mind, body and breath to find joy in the present moment, as are meditation and mindfulness practices. Laughter yoga, however, takes a slightly different approach – there are no physical requirements or limitations to practicing laughter yoga, which makes it a universal option for people seeking a happiness practice but who are unable to practice hatha yoga.


Laughter Club India

 Scientific research has proven that laughter has a documented positive impact on mental and physical well-being, as a form of complementary preventative and therapeutic medicine. In March 1995 Dr Madan Kataria, a GP from Mumbai, India, was curious about the practice, having researched the benefits and discovered a man who claimed to have recovered from a terminal illness by using laughter yoga as his main form of therapy. Kataria began a laughter yoga group, starting with just 4 people and growing to over 50 people, encouraging his participants to release their inner childlike playfulness out of its learned confines. He started with sharing jokes and anecdotes, but the jokes soon became tired and old, and then he realised that if just one person was laughing, the others were more likely to laugh – not necessarily because the joke was funny, but because they enjoyed seeing another person laugh. As they say, laughter is contagious, and he realised that there didn’t need to be something to laugh ABOUT – the magic lay in the act of laughing itself. They started making up mime and other laughter exercises – doing normal daily activities in the group but laughing the whole time. Madan’s wife, Madhuri Kataria, suggested the addition of some breathing exercises in between the laughter exercises, which incorporates the yogic connection.

 The groups started small, then began to expand in size as people began to reap the benefits. The behaviour was undeniably strange, but the health benefits were real, so more and more laughter clubs started up. Nowadays there are thousands of laughter clubs around the world, and there are also a number of organisations encouraging laughter yoga as a means of finding peace and happiness, of developing a positive community, bringing together people from all walks of life, and healing physical and emotional illnesses.

We are happiest and when we are playing, and to laugh means to be in the present moment fully, free from anxieties and fears. We’ve all heard it before, and there’s nothing like a good belly laugh, but now we know: laughter really is the best medicine!

For more info:

Action for Happiness is a movement for positive social change, bringing together people from all walks of life who want to play a part in creating a happier society for everyone.

R x Laughter develops & implements projects that examine the positive health benefits of entertainment to reduce or alleviate the trauma of serious physical and emotional issues of children and adults. is the site of Dr Madan Kataria, founder of Laughter Yoga.

Guest Blog by Fiona Jarvis, Founder Of Blue Badge Style


Fiona Jarvis, founder of Blue Badge Style

There are so many people out there who have a disability, visible or otherwise, and desire better, easier access to style. I know this because I am one of them. I first realised I might have MS over twenty years ago, when I kept falling off my high-heels. People thought I was drunk – and that was the confusing thing, as I could well have been.

All these years later, a lot has changed but a lot has stayed the same. I may use a wheelchair these days but I still want to go out, eat somewhere stylish and, every now and then, get drunk again (nobody’s perfect). I know I’m not alone in this, but the problem for myself and others tends to be finding somewhere accessible to go.


I set up Blue Badge Style to bring together likeminded less able people and to show that design and disability never need to be mutually exclusive. In essence Blue Badge Style is an accessible lifestyle guide for the discerning less able and our aim is to ensure that wherever you go or whatever you do it is a positive, fashionable and elegant experience.

The Blue Badge Style site has already established a small community sharing information on how to access style. We unearth trendy mobility aids, we find out about the disabled facilities at cool venues and we try to highlight – in a positive way – where the ‘equal provisions of goods and services are unreasonably deficient’.

The disability equipment market was worth £1.46Bn and growing in 2008. In my opinion this a market that is being completely under-served, treated as patients rather than the discerning customers that we are. The majority of mobility products (present company excluded) are drab, clinical and normally grey. But there are alternatives out there (present company now included), where you can find stylish products. We find them and tell our community all about them.

We’re about getting information out into the open and another area we focus on is the hospitality industry. In 2013 AccessChamp research found that 92.1% of less able visitors seek information about access online, but only 16.8% felt that they can always get enough information. We wanted to change this and I think we have.

The first part of our solution was the BBS App, which helps people find nearby stylish and accessible locations. It’s a Michelin guide like collection of quality restaurants, bars and more, but with our very own BBS Three Tick System that takes into account accessibility, disabled facilities and ambience. We’ve reviewed over 800 venues and warmly accept reviews from anyone in our community.


We’re really proud of the app, but we didn’t stop there. We realised that, as much as our reviews can help outline accessibility in writing, a picture’s worth a thousand words, so we have created Pictorial Access Descriptions (or PADs). PADs give a high-quality, pictorial journey through a venue, highlighting the disabled facilities in public areas and rooms, as well as any potential obstacles. It’s based on the idea that seeing for yourself is by far the easiest way to understand. And with that in mind, here’s a picture of how the PAD works.


I strongly feel that it’s currently too difficult for disabled people to get access to style. In 2014 this is frankly ridiculous. That’s why I set up Blue Badge Style to share positive information of accessibility and style with the disabled community. Things have come a long way since that day I kept toppling off my high-heels and I look forward to sharing a more stylish, accessible future!


designed2enable have been awarded the Three Ticks recommendation by Blue Badge Style.

No Sex Please, We’re Japanese

If you’re interested in how modern societies are going to cope with  ageing populations, have a look at this really interesting documentary from the BBC -No Sex Please, We’re Japanese.   It’s about the the ageing population in Japan which is becoming an epic problem.  Adult diapers outsell baby diapers.  The Japanese pensioners have huge spending power as they are all very wealthy whilst the number of young people have greatly reduced. Because they are a homogenous society, steeped in their own culture and with a difficult language to learn they are not able to tap into the resources of immigrants to easily to bring youth into the country.

Here’s the BBC comment about the programme:

In a world where people panic about the rising global population, Japan is facing a very different future which could see their population shrink by a third in just 40 years. One reason is that the Japanese are not having enough babies and the causes of that form the basis of Anita Rani’s intriguing journey.

No Sex Please, We’re Japanese explores Otaku culture – the world of nerds and geeks obsessed with computer games and Manga cartoons – which has led to a withdrawal of many Japanese men from the whole dating game.

Anita also meets the women who struggle to work and have children in a society still dominated by traditional gender roles. Added to this, Japan also has the oldest population in the world, 25% are over 65 and 50,000 over a hundred years old. Anita visits a group of pensioners cheerleaders and a prison with a wing especially designed for pensioners.

Too few young people to pay tax, too many old people needing support – it has all led to a debt problem worse than that of Greece and an uncertain future for a country that still is the third largest economy in the world.

Welcome to designed2enable

Welcome to our new blog page. We hope to be able to share information about products and services that will be useful to you, as well as news and stories about some of the amazing people we meet and hear about.

We were recently inspired by a story in the Mature Times about a 70 year old woman who, on her third attempt, successfully sailed around the world single-handed. Intrepid British woman Jeanne Socrates, 70, set off  from Victoria in Canada, in October last year. She sold her family home to take up the gruelling challenge after the death of her husband – who she learnt to sail with in her 50s. Now after more than 250 days at sea Mrs Socrates has become the oldest woman to circumnavigate the world non-stop, solo.

Speaking after she docked in Victoria, Canada recently, the grandmother-of-three said her achievement was a victory for the elderly. She said: “I am the oldest by a long shot – who else would be crazy enough to do it?

“As soon as you mention your age and number to other people they get very ageist. They classify you and put you in a pocket as being old and no good.

“But we shouldn’t be, we are no different as people.”

read the rest of the story here