I'm a Leo. Born in August of 1980. Do I ever roar like a lion? I think my husband would say "yes" particularly when it comes to things I'm passionate about but on the general day I don't think I have too much bark.
Well, in my practice this week, I roared...or at least tried to. Lion pose (Simhasana) is a unique pose that also includes both sound effects and scary facial expressions. You'll know it if you've done it before because it is one you won't forget. Initially scrunching your face (eyes, nose, mouth, forehead creases) and then releasing the tension with wide eyes and wide open mouth - tongue sticking out! - the roar is let loose.
What's with this, in my opinion, obscure pose? It's kinda bold and loud but there must be some benefit to this pose. I remember back in my university level yoga class (yes - I have it on my transcripts!) and all of the students (including me) were too shy to make much noise when we were directed to perform it. Now with an infant I make noises day in and day out so there was no problem with me trying out this pose fully! Hear me roar!
So my task this week was that I just had to look into the details of this pose more closely. Here's what I found:
Lion pose is classified as a basic kneeling jaw stretch. Well, of course it's a jaw stretch. Sometimes I forget all the muscles the body actually has since I tend to focus on larger muscle groups both in my workouts personally and with clients. Funny I should say that as in the book Yoga Anatomy it states "[lion pose] stimulates and releases a host of often overlooked muscles". Just what I was saying!
The strong lion roar activates the "three diaphragms" - thoracic, vocal, and pelvic - with particular focus on the platysma muscle that fans the front of the neck. This pose keeps the skin on the front of the neck firm as we age (non-surgical facelift option!)
The Yoga Journal website states that traditional texts indicate that lion pose "destroys disease and facilitates the three major bandhas (Mula, Jalandhara, Uddiyana)." Bandhas? Not sure what they are but more to explore for another day!
Overall, after further investigation, there is more to lion pose than what meets the eye. Keeping ones face and neck limber and stretched can only be a positive thing especially in a world where we can carry much stress in those areas.
Regardless, if you are a Leo or not, in the privacy of your own home or local yoga class, give this pose a try. For an extra kick, try it in front of a mirror!
Photo credit: Medici Lions in Florence, Italy. I took this picture on my honeymoon in 2008. This statue is circa 1600.
Aspiring Yoga Teacher
I've practiced yoga since I was a pre-teen and have always found it to keep me centered. I will be a teacher one day and this is my journey to discover teaching and practice.