😂    How Hasya Yoga compares to traditional yoga styles.

A physician and founder of Hasya (Laughter) Yoga, Madan Kataria, M.D. says laughter indeed may be the best of all medicines. Dr. Kataria has developed a yoga style that combines deep, controlled breathing and stretches with various types of forced laughter. Dr. Kataria's exploration of Laughter Yoga began in India with small groups of people who met regularly for morning walks. Pre-walk sessions began with a breathing exercise similar to Pranayama, which is a practice of controlling the breath and the source of our prana, or vital life force. This is followed by a structured "chanting" that requires a rhythmic muscular movement of the abdomen much like kapalabhati, or breath of fire, a breathing technique in which the practitioner rapidly inhales and exhales to clear the respiratory passages. The laughter practice moves progressively from simple chanting and breathing techniques to other types of simulated laughter. Dr. Kataria calls this his laughter cocktail.  One part sustained laughter for up to 45 seconds, followed with one part deep breathing and stretching exercises. 


Dr. Kataria compares the use of abdominal muscles during the practice of forced laughter to yoga exercises which tone the digestive system, emphasizing that strong abdominal muscles contribute to a healthy digestive system. He further maintains that a laughter practice raises both pulse rate and blood pressure, stimulating and toning the circulatory system, and at the same time strengthening the respiratory system by utilizing the entire capacity of the lungs. Prana , or life force, he explains, enters our bodies via breathing, therefore clear respiratory passages and strong lungs are essential to the well-being of both body and spirit.

Unlike some yoga styles a primary goal of Laughter Yoga is not to work on muscle mass, but to overcome  critical thinking  behaviors that do not serve us. Dr. Kataria's belief is that you cannot be physically relaxed and mentally stressed at the same time. He says laughter relaxes the whole body. Although Laughter Yoga can be a solo practice, when done in groups it is a way to connect with people and possibly carry that into everyday life. For example in Hatha Yoga (a style commonly taught in yoga studios and fitness centers), the focus is on the breath. The forefront to Laughter Yoga, as the session evolves, the focus is on dristi or gaze of the other. This in turn builds community.

😂    Where does the term Hasya Yoga come from?

The name Hasya Yoga comes from the Sankrit hasya which can be translated as humor or comedy and is one of the nine rasas or moods of the human experience. Hasya is said to lead to the exultation or joy of the mind. 

😂    What does rasa mean?

Rasa is a Sanskrit term meaning sap, essence or fluid. In the spiritual tradition, this term refers to the essence of the human experience; the emotions that govern human life. Tantric belief identifies nine basic human emotions. In the practice of yoga, however, only three of these rasas are considered to be fundamental: the vira rasa (refers to the power of controlling the breath, mind and body), the shanti rasa (refers to the serenity of equilibrium) and the sringara rasa (refers to the spiritual and physical unity achieved through yoga).