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Laughter yoga (hasya yoga)

If laughter is the best medicine, then a dose of Laughter Yoga might be just what the doctor ordered.

By Zeel Editorial Staff, Last updated: August 15, 2012

If laughter is the best medicine, then a dose of Laughter Yoga might be just what the doctor ordered. Hasya Yoga ("hasya" which means laughter in Sanskrit) is a variety of yoga whose main focus is the breath. It's based on the notion that the mind can't differentiate between real and fake laughter - meaning you can trick your body into feeling happy despite your true mood. As an added benefit, sustained laughter works your core muscles and tightens your abs.

The contagious concept was developed in 1995 by the Indian physician Madan Kataria, who established a series of stretches, breathing patterns, and laughing exercises. Laughter ranges from silent giggling to volcanic fits of laughter.

Laughter yoga classes, which are lead by a "Laughter Leader,", are communal. Each practice progresses through four steps. The sequence begins with rhythmic clapping to warm up, followed by deep breathing, playful bodily movements (like swinging your arms), and physical and meditative laughter. Each bout of laughter lasts 45 seconds, and is followed by deep breathing and stretching.

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