Hasya Yoga: The Yoga of “laughter wisdom”

Okay, so I was out at the Zakarison Farm last night.  For those of you who don’t know, my family has a beautiful, partially organic farm here on the Palouse, where my brother and sister-in-law do magic raising chickens, goats, lambs, mules, llamas (no camels, alas!), crops, and a bunch of stuff.  The farm is definitely a part of my yoga.  But more on that later.  The reason I bring this up now is that my wonderful nephew, Aaron, was back for a brief, birthday visit, and so we were having a fantastic dinner for him.  In addition to eating fantastic food (thank you, Sheryl), we basically just laughed and laughed.  Aaron is an amazing guy – incredibly thoughtful, and very funny.  I was once again reminded of just how good it feels to spend a night, laughing.

Sadly enough, for many of us, being an adult is no laughing matter.  We often lose our ability to laugh as we grow up.  I read a study recently that said that children laugh 300-400 times a day.  By the time we get to be adults, that number drops to 15 -20 times a day.  American adults laugh less than adults from some other countries.

Here’s some of the science behind laughter (for those of you that need that sort of thing). Laughter, even if it’s forced laughter, is good medicine for your body – increased dopamine and endorphins raise our pain threshold and reduce pain, a trigger in relaxation, an increase in our overall sense of well-being, reduction in stress hormones and measured depression.  People who engage in periods of forced or naturally evoked laughter say they feel happier and report feeling more creative, with an increased enjoyment of social interactions.

Another one of the things I love about my nephew, Aaron.  He and his long time buddy, Tim, have always been able to have a good belly laugh at those really bad jokes you find on Rocket pops – you know, the red, white, and blue popsicles?  I’ve always thought that, if we are able to be “self-entertaining units,” we will live wonderful lives, no matter how long our lives may be.

Look for more posts to make you laugh this week, and perhaps a few profound sayings about laughter . . .  In the meantime, here’s to finding some Hasya in your yoga this week.  Don’t take it too seriously – embody the light of spring!

Have you shared a laugh today?

Do you remember these days? If you were lucky, maybe it was yesterday, or this morning — when you could just get together with a dear one and laugh and laugh, sometimes about nothing at all.  There are times when I’ve been teaching yoga when it’s happened to 2 people on adjacent yoga mats.  One of them starts giggling, and it’s just like second grade again.  I attempt to play the part of the “stern” teacher, just to keep the whole thing going — that kind of laughter needs the counter part of the teacher — but I actually delight in it, because, when the laughter is genuinely from the heart,  that’s the whole body joy that yoga is all about.  And sharing it is the stuff for which we are made! I love a yoga class that has some laughter in it.  Somehow, it rounds out the beauty of it for me.

My friend Michael, who is by day a husband, dad, teacher, and a bunch of other things, but also a philosophizer and (I would say) yogi, recently wrote:  “When you make someone laugh, it’s a double gift . . . One for me, one for you.”  Share the joy!

Laughed Out Loud Lately?

Before we go any further, I really believe in the essential goodness of giraffes!  This image is from a great UK website that posts funny exam answers.  This week, we’ll be exploring lightening up our minds/bodies/spirits with Hasya yoga, or the yoga of “laughter wisdom.”  Yoga is powerful stuff — no denying it — but it also really helps to sometimes bring in a good laugh.  So stay posted (in fact, come back for more good posts!).  And bring some laughs.  It’s all yoga, after all.