When you feel so angry you could just scream, let it out in Lion's Breath pose, a controlled primal roar that helps you release tension and blow off steam.
Also known as Simhasana, Lion's Breath pose consists of a single breath that originates at the pelvic floor and moves up through the abdominal muscles, lungs and throat to relieve tension and reset your nervous system.
The Benefits of Lion's Breath Pose
"Our bodies carry a lot of 'fight-or-flight' energy as we move through our busy days, sometimes feeling as though our to-do lists are chasing us," says psychologist Tanya Mickler. Lion's Breath can help release that built-up energy to bring your body back into "rest and digest" mode, using the breath as a gateway to improved functioning.
"The large inhalation that takes place before the audible exhale forces excess oxygen into the base of the lungs, which fuels the brain [and] improves circulation," says Natasha Snow Needles, a co-owner of SoHo Yoga in Hermosa Beach.
"If we're going deeper into the philosophy of yoga, the throat chakra is illuminated and balanced with this prana [life force] practice as well," Needles says. "In times when you feel less expressive, stifled or perhaps communicating to the end of exhaustion, this chakra can become a bit unbalanced, and Lions Breath can help."
Jenny Cline, yoga therapist of FierceOm Yoga, often includes three rounds of Lion's Breath in Fish pose at the end of her classes, just before final Savasana, but it can be performed in one of several poses before or after practice or any time you feel the need to let off steam. Here are some of the other more challenging ones:
- Lotus pose: a cross-legged seated position where each ankle is placed on the opposite thigh
- Half Lotus: a modified cross-legged seated position where one ankle is placed on the opposite thigh and the other is tucked underneath
- Fish pose: a modified backbend performed by lying on the ground with legs extended, upper body propped up on the elbows and head tilted back to rest the crown of the head on the floor
- Malasana: a low squat with butt lowered toward the ground, elbows inside the knees pressing out and hands in Prayer pose
- Cat-Cow: on hands and knees, round your back like a scared cat with your head down, then arch the back, lifting the head up into Cow pose
How to Perform the Lion's Breath Yoga Pose
- Kneel and sit back on your heels.
- Lift your chest as you shift your weight and lean forward until your knees are on the floor. Place your hands on the floor in front of you as if you were a lion getting ready to roar.
- Stretch your fingers out as if claws were shooting out of the ends.
- Look up, focusing both eyes on the point between your eyebrows.
- Open your mouth wide and stretch out your tongue as far as it will go. Breathe in.
- Contract your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor, then exhale in a single, forceful breath. Exhalation will naturally create a sound through your open mouth while sticking your tongue out. The release of the breath should sound like a very breathy hah.
- Repeat three times.
While practicing this pose, you'll roar with a forceful exhalation without constricting your throat. The exhalation results from the contraction of the abdominal muscles and the pelvic floor. This posture is meant to allow the breath to be released with an audible, forceful exhale.