I love Lion pose. Even when I practice it at home alone, it makes me beam with embarrassment imagining what on earth it looks like. The friend who took these pics kept a straight face for most of the poses but when it came to Lion just said, ‘Good grief.’
I’ve taught it to students who’ve been happy to roar out their stresses when I’ve taught outdoor (summer) classes by the River Brain and at gyms where everyone’s refused to give it a go (as well as other gyms where most people have been happy to roar away). At a rehab centre, even the glass doors didn’t put my lovely students off.
I’m never sure how new students will react to Lion but I continue encouraging them to roar (even if they don’t do it in class, learning it might encourage them to play with it at home).
Benefits include boosting circulation in the tongue and throat and exercising and strengthening the face and throat muscles. The longer exhalation helps calm the nervous system and I teach it by encouraging students and clients to ponder current stresses – anything they’d like to just roar away – before moving into Lion.
I think even this act of honouring whatever is stressing us out in any given moment helps release some of the energy around it. There have been times where I’ve been on hold for 20+ minutes and doing a quick partial Lion roar makes me laugh at myself enough to feel much better equipped to handle the robots until I get to eventually talk to a human and sort whatever issue had me calling. You can hear me talking about Lion pose on BBC Essex here.
If this introduction around how embarrassing some people find it and how silly it can look hasn’t put you off (embarrassment is the only contraindication), you might want to play with it now:
- As you rest in Child or similar, think of up to six stresses you’d rather not have in your life right now
- Come into a low kneeling position, placing the hands on your knees (if this doesn’t work for you, sit in any comfortable position)
- Widen your eyes, rolling them up as you ROAR, stretching your tongue out (making a forced ‘Ahhhh’ sound – actually sounds more like I imagine a snake would sound than a lion), folding forwards and then coming back up to the original position
- Repeat a couple of times, each time, roaring away a different stress
- Repeat another three times or move into Crazy Lion (a pose my friend refused to photograph) and as you fold forward, move your head and neck and torso in all sorts of directions as you let yourself go
- When you complete your six rounds, come back to your kneeling (or other starting) position and notice how you feel.
It’s entirely possible that the beaming faces I often see as we complete Lion in classes are at least partially down to relief at having done it but it’s great fun so do feel free to play with it, if you want to.
What do you think of Lion pose?
What (potentially embarrassing) tools help you de-stress and let out some of the day’s frustrations?
Feel free to comment below.
IF YOU’RE NEW TO YOGA AND DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO THESE POSES, GO TO A YOGA THERAPIST OR INSTRUCTOR. IF YOU’RE NEW TO EXERCISE, CONSULT YOUR GP BEFOREHAND. ALWAYS HONOUR YOUR BODY’S OWN WISDOM