Exhale, let go, and embrace your inner lion
by Nancy B. Loughlin
Published in News Press on August 5, 2014. Posted with permission.
The number one reason to practice Lion Pose is that you will look ridiculous. Sacrificing the ego is a good thing.
Simhasana, Lion Pose, is usually done on the floor. Sit back on your heels if you can, or use a bolster. As you inhale, your palms are on your knees.
Here comes the exhalation:
Hold your hands out in front of you as if they were claws. Open your mouth wide, stick out your tongue as far as possible and then point it downward. Roll your eyes upward so they are facing your third eye in the center of your forehead. Exhale hard through your mouth, and add a roar.
I can’t remember the last time I did this pose in public. But, I confess, I do it when I’m alone.
There are other benefits to Simhasana besides dropping our pretenses.
Lion Pose stretches and relaxes the neck, jaw, tongue and throat not to mention the rectus muscles of the eyes. Lion Pose also activates and tones the platysma muscle at the front of the throat, discouraging the advancement of turkey neck.
Given that most people inadequately ventilate the stale air from their lungs, the greatest benefit of Lion Pose is the powerful exhalation. The breath is one way we remove waste from our bodies including carbon dioxide. Energetically, it’s also a powerful practice to let go of what no longer serves you.
If you’ve been waiting to exhale, also try:
Ha-Ha: While either standing or sitting, place your hands on your thighs, breathe in through your nose until your belly expands, and then exhale out of your mouth. When you have pulled in your belly and you think you can’t exhale any more, push out at least two laughs. “Ha-ha.”
Woodchopper: While standing, inhale and raise your arms overhead. Interlace your fingers, and steeple your index fingers. On the exhale through the mouth, bend at the waist and swing your arms between your bent legs as if you’re chopping wood. Intensify the exhale with a roar. Repeat it ten times.
Take a mid-day exhalation break: Sit in meditation preferably on the floor, but your desk chair will suffice. Inhale for a count of four, inflating the belly like a balloon. Pause. Then, exhale slowly, completely and with control through pursed lips as if you’re blowing a kiss. As you breathe out, pull your belly to the spine. Make the exhalation last for at least a count of six, and work up to longer.
As you exhale, visualize all frustrations and all negative thoughts and memories leaving the body.
Holding the breath equals tension. Exhaling means release and relaxation. When you’re stressed, and someone helpfully tells you to breathe, it’s not the inhalation that’s serving you. It’s the letting go.