Let Loose the Lion

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In my recent series about aqua yoga, I focused one of my posts on the benefits of pranyama in the pool.  Truth be told, pranyama– yogic breath work– is a relative newcomer to my regular practice. Much of my yoga experience is in fitness-based studios, and it was only when I deepend my practice by becoming an aqua yoga instructor and then undertaking a certification as a prenatal yoga instructor did I really learn about this important component of a yoga practice.  After all, without the breath, yoga is just stretching.

Today I want to focus on one of my favorite asana– Simhasana or Lion’s Pose.  As someone who has suffered from TMJ facial stress and its accompanying headaches for nearly two decades, the breathwork that is part of Lion’s Pose gives me release and relief.

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  • While sitting with my hips on my heels, I splay my hands on my knees as if flaring my claws.
  • I take a deep inhale to grow the spine long, and then I exhale forcefully (and loudly!), trying to open my mouth and eyes wide.  My gaze focuses just beyond the tip of my nose.
  • My tongue hangs down.  Shoulders fall heavy.  Spine stays tall.
  • I am fierce!
  •  Continue the “roar” until the inhale naturally begins.

I like to repeat the lion’s breath 3-5 times, seeing if I can roar louder and longer each time.

Practicing Simhasana at the beginning of my session allows me to begin with a clean, clear head.  It also helps me to feel strong and capable as I begin my practice.

Lion’s pose has a benefit for those concerned with vanity and aging.  The deep, forceful exhale with mouth open and tongue extended engages the platysma, a muscle on the front of the throat.  Working the platysma keeps the skin of the neck firm and youthful in appearance.

Mostly, though, roaring like a lion with a tall, strong torso makes you feel like a beast who can conquer anything.

Good health and great happiness to you.

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