Roar with Power: Unleashing Energy and Expressiveness through Lion's Breath

breathwork Jul 14, 2023

By Chris Downham @ R1SE Yoga

Yoga encompasses more than physical poses, and pranayama (yogic breathing practices) is an integral part of a complete yoga practice. Each breathing technique has its unique benefits, and Lion's Breath, or Simhasana Pranayama, is a powerful breath that can help clear the throat chakra, boost energy, and more. Here's a breakdown of what Lion's Breath entails, how to practice it, and some tips to keep in mind:

What is Lion's Breath?

Lion's Breath is a pranayama technique from the yogic tradition. As explained by Patrick McKeown, a breathing practitioner and author of The Oxygen Advantage, it involves forceful exhalations through the mouth with the tongue extended and stretched down towards the chin. The name Lion's Breath comes from the resemblance of the seated posture to that of a lion.

How to do Lion's Breath:

  1. Find a comfortable seated position of your choice.
  2. Place your hands on your knees or on the floor, spreading your fingertips wide like lion's claws.
  3. Lean your upper body slightly forward.
  4. Inhale through your nose, keeping your mouth closed.
  5. Open your mouth wide and extend your tongue downward towards your chin.
  6. Exhale forcefully with a "ha" sound, feeling the breath come from deep within and passing across your entire tongue. Keep your tongue out throughout the exhale and don't hesitate to be loud.
  7. Relax your face and take a few normal breaths before repeating Lion's Breath.
  8. Aim for four to six repetitions of Lion's Breath. If you're in the lion's pose, switch the crossing of your feet halfway through.
  9. After completing the repetitions, breathe deeply in and out through your nose for at least three minutes before moving on.

Benefits of Lion's Breath:

  1. Emotional Release: Lion's Breath is said to clear the throat, engage the lungs, and help release emotions, making it beneficial for individuals with speech impediments or those working through self-consciousness.
  2. Facial and Neck Stretch: This technique provides a nice stretch for the face and neck, relieving tension in these areas.
  3. Throat Chakra Activation: Lion's Breath is closely associated with the throat chakra, which pertains to communication, using your voice, openness, and expression.
  4. General Pranayama Benefits: Pranayama practices, including Lion's Breath, offer a wide range of benefits such as regulating the nervous system, reducing anxiety, and improving attention and focus.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Embrace Empowerment: Put your heart into Lion's Breath and let go of self-consciousness. Focus on exhaling forcefully, imagining the release of stagnant or negative energy.
  • Engage the Bandhas: Experienced practitioners familiar with the bandhas (internal "locks" of yoga) can experiment with engaging them during Lion's Breath to further enhance the practice.
  • Alternate with Normal Breathing: After completing your repetitions of Lion's Breath, incorporate intentional normal breathing. This will help normalise blood chemistry and balance the nervous system.

Risks and Side Effects:

Lion's Breath is not recommended for beginners or individuals with pre-existing respiratory problems, as the forceful exhalations may pose risks to the airways. If you have concerns, consult your medical practitioner for guidance. Additionally, sitting in the lion's pose may be uncomfortable for those with knee injuries, so an alternative seated position can be chosen.

In conclusion, with numerous breathing techniques available, understanding their benefits helps you choose the right one for any given day. If you need an energy boost, want to clear your throat chakra, or desire a stretch for your face and neck, give Lion's Breath a try during your practice.

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