2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

In like a lamb, out like a lion

Published: April 4, 2014, 2:49 pm, by Jen Mulson

lions breathNo, this isn’t a post about the month of March — it’s a post about simhasana, better known as Lion’s Breath in yoga.

In Lion’s Breath, you’re usually kneeling, with your hands resting on your thighs. You take a big breath in through the nose, and then expell it out through the mouth, as you stretch your tongue out as far toward your chin as you can. Along with the exhale, you let loose a big “Ahhhhhhh!,” so you sound like a lion.

This is one of my favorite asanas, for a couple of reasons.

First, I love the way it kind of makes you look and feel really silly. I think it’s good to allow yourself to feel ridiculous. It’s good practice for all the times in life when we unintentionally do something silly, and worry what other people might think. Practicing Lion’s Breath helps us be okay with letting our guards down, especially when we’re doing it in a yoga class with 20 other people who look just as silly.

Lion poseSecond, I enjoy the vocalization you can add. It can be as loud as you want — rich with drama. And it can definitely make you laugh when you’re done, and who doesn’t love that?

Lion’s Breath is great for the fifth chakra (invisible energy centers located up and down the spine), which is located at your throat. Makes sense, right? You’re exhaling out stress and tension and freeing up your voice. It’s also a good practice, I think, when you’re not speaking up for yourself, or holding onto anger or frustration.

We did more than several sets of Lion’s Breath in my Tuesday night class this week. We started our practice in Toes Pose (everybody’s favorite, except not) and did a few rounds of Ujjayi Breath, and then switched to Lion’s Breath for five rounds. 

Later on in class we did a handful of crescent lunges on each side, adding a Lion’s Breath as we swept our arms down by our sides and reached our fingers to the back wall.