Lion’s Breath – Foundations of Yoga


Hey everyone and welcome to Yoga With Adriene.
I’m Adriene, and today on the Pranayama series we are learning Lion’s Breath. This is a pose
that I used to resist, and now I embrace, which is why I am sharing it with you today.
It’s a wonderful breath and a pose – two for one here today – that for me, inspires, requires
even a little bit of silliness and just reminds you to let go of what other people think.
For that reason, I feel like it boosts confidence. The Pranayama practice itself is great for
relieving stress. It boosts vitality, gets rid of negative emotions, and stuff like that.
It can also open up the throat chakra and relieve any stress or tension in the jaw or
the neck if you suffer from TMJ. Anyway, loads of benefits of this pose and
this breath practice, so let’s hop on the mat and learn Lion’s Pose. All right. So to learn Lion’s Breath today,
we’re going to come into a seated posture on the knees. We have a couple of options
here. You can begin in Verasana, Hero Pose. If this is not available to you, then you’re
going to practice Lion’s breath in an easy cross-legged position today. You can lift
the hips on a blanket, sit up on a block. You can practice this in a chair. The focus
of today is not on the pose, but rather on the Pranayama or the breath. So just get comfortable. I’m going to come to my knees and I’m going
to bring my two big toes together and let the heels spread wide. I did a voice over
this morning. It should be nice and warm and articulate. So knees are spilling out, the
two big toes are kissing together, and I’m letting the sit bones, that pelvic floor nestle
in to the arches of my feet, resisting the urge to say, “Ha-yo.” So pelvic floor nestling
into the feet. I’ll bring the hands to the tops of the thighs, and you’ll loop the shoulders
forward, up and back. Open the chest, very important here. So if you’re in cross-legged, just sit up
nice and tall. Draw the shoulders away from the ears. We’ll take a deep breath in here.
And on the exhale, spread the palms wide and press the palms down towards your knees. So
what I’m doing here is connecting palm to shoulder and really spreading the shoulder
blades left to right, becoming active in the shoulder girdle and in the chest. Cool beans. So for the breath, I’m going to inhale through
the nose. For starters, just exhale out through mouth with the “ha” sound. Here we go. So
let’s try it just like that again. This time as you inhale, lengthen up through the crown
of the head. And as you exhale, really press through your fingers. You can imagine these
little Lion’s Claws here as you press into the base of the palm. So spread the palms
wide, inhale, lengthen through the crown of the head, exhale, “ha.” So as I’m pressing
out through the palms and exhaling, I’m drawing the shoulder blades down and really opening
up through the chest. Just a little extra here. So let’s try that one more time. Inhale
in, lengthen through the crown of the head, and exhale out “ha.” Okay, good. So now, adding a little lion. I’m going to
inhale in, same thing. This time, on that exhale which is a strong “ha” sound, as if
you were fogging up a window and creating a little fog there. This time, I’m going to
lengthen the tip of the tongue down towards the Earth. Keep lengthening through the crown
of the head. As I send my tongue out and down, I’m going to send my gaze up towards my third
eye, if you will. So there are many ways to practice this pose. This is how we’re going
to learn it today and we’re going to shift into different variations as we grow the breath
practice. So I inhale in and exhale. Practice, tongue out, gaze up “ha”. Okay, so we’re going to keep going with this.
A couple of notes. Be careful not to create any unnecessary tension in the neck and the
shoulders. That’s why we practice with the shoulders drawn away from the ears and broadening
through the upper back body and the chest. Tongue, again, points down as you exhale;
your gaze goes all the way up towards the third eye. So this focus can also be sent
up towards the sky, but in traditional practice – and we can talk more about [inaudible 00:11:19]
and it’s relation to the Bandhas or the locks on another day. But for now, this quick foundations
in Pranayama. Play with sending the gaze up towards the third eye here, or just up towards
the ceiling. So we’re going to practice five Lion’s Breaths
in a row and see what happens here. Ready? Here we go. We inhale, lengthen through the
crown of the head, exhale, Lion’s breath, tongue out, “ha.” Close the eyes, soften through
the eyelids. Inhale. Exhale, spread the palms, Lion’s Breath, tongue out, “ha.” Inhale. Close
the eyes and exhale, Lion’s Breath, looking up, “ha.” Two more, here we go. “Ha.” Last
one. “Ha.” Now, rest the palms on the tops of the thighs. Close your eyes and just notice
how you feel. Relax your jaw. Then we’ll bat the eyelashes open, “Ha-yo,” high on the breath. So now, we’re adding another variation of
the pose so that we can learn the breath in that. We widen the knees. This is another
option here, a little more lion’s love for you. So you can stay in cross-legged position
if you’re already there. Otherwise, we’ll learn a second variation here, bringing the
knees wide and pressing the palms into the Earth. Now, just take a second here to press
away from the mat. Find that broadening through the chest. Then keep that chest open as you
turn the fingertips inside, inwards, in towards your body. Press into all ten knuckles, again,
broadening through the upper back body just like we did before. So there’s a tendency
to collapse here, like we’re chillin’ like villains, so keep that integrity in the spine.
Great. Here we go. We’re going to practice five Lion’s Breaths
here. This time, pressing into the palms, knees nice and wide, opening through the throat.
Okay, here we go. Inhale, lengthen through the crown of the head and exhale. Begin Lion’s
Breath, tongue out, “ha.” Close the eyes. Inhale. “Ha.” For these last two, you might
begin to find a little rotation in the pelvis, so maybe I’ll actually turn to the side here
just so you can see that. I wasn’t really planning to teach all of this, but you might
as well get all the bang for your buck, so to speak. So, practice two more. Broadening through
the chest and just noticing now, incorporating a little bit of tilt in the pelvis, a little
bit of spinal flex here as we open through the front body. Open through the throat chakra
and find a gentle compression or massage in the back of the neck. Okay, here we go. Two
Lion’s breaths in a row and then we’re done. Inhale in. Full body experience. Exhale, Lion’s
Breath, tongue out. Then we’ll gently release. Palms walk forward.
We walk the knees in towards center. We’ll press up and out of the Earth so we can curl
the toes under, a little counter pose for the feet. And then we outstretch it in the
front, melting the heart to the Earth. We’ll breathe through the soles of the feet, and
relax. Take a second here if you need to rotate the wrists, and then we release. Okay doc. So that was Lion’s Pose. You can
incorporate this breath into your practice in any Asana that feels good. I invite you
to find a little self-expression, explore doing Lion’s Breath in Downward Dog. Explore
doing Lion’s Breath perhaps in a Cobra, or Upward Facing Dog or in Sukasana meditation
pose. Check it out. For me, again, this pose is about letting go of what other people think.
It’s a great way to build confidence in your practice, which hopefully will translate up
off the mat as well. I love you guys. Leave questions comments
below. I am incorporating a little bit of a hashtag – because it’s 2014, baby – with
this pose. If you want to get silly with me, forget about what people think and just have
some fun. You can hashtag #lionsbreathYWA for Yoga with Adriene, and share with us your
silly Lion’s Breath face. I love you. Have a wonderful day. Visit us
at YogaWithAdriene.com for more free goodies. Namaste.

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