What Is Simhasana?

Mark Wollacott

Simhasana is a yoga pose that is supposed to resemble a lion. The name comes from the conflagration of two Sanskrit words: ‘Simha’ meaning ‘lion’ and ‘asana’ meaning ‘posture.’ The posture is used mostly to release tension as well as help to exercise muscles in the chest and abdomen. It is often combined with other yoga positions such as the lotus position and with meditation.

The Sanskrit names of most yoga poses include the word "asana" as a suffix.
The Sanskrit names of most yoga poses include the word "asana" as a suffix.

Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual discipline. Coming from India, Yoga aims to help practitioners achieve a balanced life. It combines a series of postures, exercises and breathing techniques, of which simhasana is just one of them. Simhasana is usually started after the lotus position.

Simhasana is often combined with meditation.
Simhasana is often combined with meditation.

Practicing simhasana is a five-step process. First, the person doing simhasana kneels on the floor and then crosses one leg over the other at the ankle. The buttocks will then rest on the feet as they point roughly to the sides.

Second, the practitioner places his or her hands on his or her knees with the palms down and fingers splayed wide open. The person performing the yoga is encouraged to treat his or her hands as if they were lion’s claws. A lack of inhibition is essential for this and for stage three.

During stage three, the person doing simhasana takes a deep breath through his or her nose. This is done while leaning forwards, arching the back a little, and with the jaw stretched wide open. A lack of inhibition is required for this stage because the tongue should be stretched out as far as possible. Eyes are usually focused on the tip of the nose, too. The self-conscious should consider doing this in private with the door locked and the curtains closed.

During the fourth stage, the posture adopted in stage three is held as long as breath is exhaled. Once exhaled, the posture is relaxed, eyes are closed and the tongue is retracted. Step five involves repeating the process and adding additional elements to it. This can include roaring like a lion. If the posture is repeated a few times, many practitioners swap which foot is over the other so neither leg goes to sleep.

Simhasana stretches the muscles of the face as well as exercising the abdomen and chest muscles. It is also good for sore throats. It can be used as one of many exercises to work on voice difficulties such as stammering.

There are some precautions to be taken other than hiding for the shy. Simhasana can aggravate back and neck pain. In this case, the exercise can be adapted so neck and back movements are restricted.

Simhasana can aggravate existing back and neck pain.
Simhasana can aggravate existing back and neck pain.

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