By Gillian B
The regular practice of yoga is all encompassing, it has immeasurable benefits that ripple out into all areas of life. Not only does yoga make your body supple and flexible, it calms the mind and helps you reconnect with your inner world, and as a big bonus, slows down the process of aging considerably.
While human’s are capable of thousands of different facial expressions, we tend to default to only a few. Repetition of these expressions over time lead to over use of the facial muscles and under use of others, causing common signs of aging like crows feet, smile lines, and a permanently furled brow.
Luckily there’s a yoga posture that has an extremely powerful positive influence on the muscles of the face, neck and throat, the common sites for sagging and wrinkles. By increasing the flow of prana (life force) and with it the circulation of blood, oxygen and nutrients to the face and neck, yoga poses like Lion’s Pose tone the muscles and prevent the occurrence of premature wrinkles (2).
Simhasana – Letting out a big RAWR in Lion Pose encourages us to consciously express both the fierce and silly sides of ourselves! It naturally activates the internal energy locks (bandhas) and clears the throat passage so that we can express ourselves more freely! (2)
This pose can be done on its own, or as part of a warm-up sequence in either pranayama or asana. It’s commonly done from Thunderbolt Pose (kneeling) or Table Pose (hands and knees), but it’s also fun to throw into poses like Upward Facing Dog or when flowing between Cat and Cow Pose.
Here are some of the physical benefits of Lion’s Pose/ Breath:
- Relieves tension in the chest, neck and face(1).
- It stimulates the platysma, a flat, thin, rectangular-shaped muscle along the front of the throat. The platysma is responsible for pulling down on the corners of the mouth and causing wrinkles in the skin of the neck (1).
- Practicing Simhasana regularly helps to keep the platysma supple as we age (1).
- According to traditional yogic texts, this pose destroys disease and engages the three major bandhas (Mula, Jalandhara, Uddiyana) (1).
- The action of forcefully expelling the breath is said to be very detoxifying, especially first thing in the morning.
Cautions and Contraindications (1):
This pose and breathing practice is generally pretty safe. However, depending on your body, you may need to modify the lower body for comfort.
If you find kneeling to be uncomfortable, try sitting on a block positioned between your feet, or cross-legged with your hips raised by a blanket, block or bolster.
If you have a knee injury, always be cautious in flexed-knee sitting positions, and if necessary, sit on a chair to do the pose.
Here is a video tutorial that I’ve put together demonstrating how to warm up for Lion’s Pose/Breath:
Try practice Lion’s Pose first thing in the morning, let yourself be silly, laugh and have fun with it!