August Pose of the Month: Lion's Pose
Sanskrit Name: Simhasana (sim-HAHS-anna), simha = lion
Simhasana presents an opportunity to abruptly reduce stress and "clear the air," at the start of your practice.
Relieves tension in the chest and face.
An often-overlooked benefit of Simhasana is that it stimulates the platysma, a flat, thin, rectangular-shaped muscle on the front of the throat. The platysma, when contracted, pulls down on the corners of the mouth and wrinkles the skin of the neck.
Simhasana helps keep the platysma firm as we age.
According to traditional texts, Simhasana destroys disease and facilitates the three major bandhas (Mula, Jalandhara, Uddiyana).
According to several sources, Simhasana is a useful pose for people with bad breath or for those who stutter.
Simhasana - Step by Step
Kneel on the floor and cross the front of the right ankle over the back of the left. The feet will point out to the sides. Sit back so the perineum snuggles down onto the on the top (right) heel.
Press your palms firmly against your knees. Fan the palms and splay your fingers like the sharpened claws of a large feline.
Take a deep inhalation through the nose. Then simultaneously open your mouth wide and stretch your tongue out, curling its tip down toward the chin, open your eyes wide, contract the muscles on the front of your throat, and exhale the breath slowly out through your mouth with a distinct "ha" sound. The breath should pass over the back of the throat.
Some texts instruct us to set our gaze (drishti) at the spot between the eyebrows. This is called "mid-brow gazing" (bhru-madhya-drishti; bhru = the brow; madhya = middle).Other texts direct the eyes to the tip of the nose (nasa-agra-drishti; nasa = nose; agra = foremost point or part, i.e., tip).
You can roar two or three times. Then change the cross of the legs and repeat for the same number of times.
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.
Modifications and Props
If you find the leg position described above to be uncomfortable, simply sit in Virasana. Sit on a block positioned between your feet.
Deepen the Pose
Some old instructional manuals teach that Jalandhara Bandha should be performed during Simhasana.
The hands and shoulder blades are sympathetically connected. As you spread the right palm on the right knee, feel how the shoulder blade spreads across your back. Similarly, as you press each palm against the same-side knee, feel how the same-side shoulder blade presses more deeply into the back, helping to lift the heart.
Sit in what's called Mandukasana (Frog Pose; manduka = frog). Kneel on the floor and sit back on your heels; then wiggle your buttocks down onto the inner arches of the feet, which together form a kind of saddle. Then, keeping the inner tips of your big toes touching, spread your knees wide, at least as wide as your outer hips. Now lean your torso forward and press your palms on the floor between your legs, fingers turned back toward your pelvis. Keep your elbows as straight as possible. Then perform the pose as described in Step 4 above.
The above comes to us from Yoga Journal.