Lion's Breath

Breathing Technique

  1. Find a comfortable place to sit, where you can hopefully have some privacy to experiment with this breathing technique for the next few minutes. If it's available to you, you can find a seated position on the floor with your legs crossed.  You can also sit on a chair, a couch, or even your bed if this feels better for you in this moment. 
  2. Take a second to intentionally pause and be here now, wherever you are. You might be coming into this practice feeling low, with uncomfortable sensations, emotions, or thoughts, or maybe you’re not feeling much at all in this moment. I'm here to remind you that this is okay. This is a nervous system response - and we can maybe even thank our nervous system for trying to protect us, and just spend the next few minutes being curious about trying something new.
  3. Take a moment to notice your posture. Maybe placing the palms of the hands at the tops of the knees, rolling your shoulders back a couple of times, and just seeing if we can get a little bit of lift in the spine and the chest. 
  4. Before we do a full lion's breath, we're gonna start with just a little experiment. First we're going to inhale through the nose, and then exhale with a soft "Haaaaah" sound, the kinda breath you'd do if you were trying to warm up cold hands, or fog up a window. As you inhale through the nose, find a gentle lift in the spine. As you exhale, press your palms  into your knees and stretch your chest forward and your chin up a little to make the "Ha" sound. Repeat this 1-2 more times. 
  5. You can continue breathing in this way, or, if you are okay experimenting a little bit more, we're gonna try a full lion's breath. Inhale through the nose. On your next exhale, stick your tongue all the way out, while you also try to look up towards the centre of your forehead with your eyes. As you exhale, create that same "Haaaaah" breath, but see if you can make the sound a little louder this time. Remember that the choice is yours here, and you can take this time to figure out what feels okay for you in this moment. So if sticking your tongue out feels too odd or too much, just stick with the soft "Ha" sound as you breath out. 
  6. If it does feel okay or even energising for you to do the full lion's breath, you can play with this just a little bit more. We can try out a few different postures or movements with this breath. You can hold your hands up and out at either side, closing your fists on the inhale, then stretching your palms and fingers as wide as you can on the exhale. 
  7. If you want to experiment even further, we can become curious and ask ourselves “what emotion, thought, or sensation do I want to let go of with this breath right now?” Maybe there’s some stuckness, some frustration, negative energy, or some other feeling that we have been resisting and holding onto, and in this moment - if it feels okay for you right now - you can just let it rise through your chest as you inhale, and release through throat and jaw as you breath out with a “Haaaaah”.
  8. Whatever breath practice you have landed on, repeat it 1-2 more times, or however long feels okay for you. 
  9. Once you’ve finished, take a moment to settle, and notice if anything is different from just a few moments ago. Are there any shifts, however tiny or subtle, in how your body feels? See if you can put words to what you notice, always remembering that whatever comes up is okay.

( i )        This breathing technique is a great way to begin to up-regulate the nervous system and take us out of that shut down response. By engaging our facial muscles, diaphragm and vocal chords with our breath, we are helping to send some stimulation along multiple pathways of the vagus nerve that can help to release tension, reduce cortisol levels, and give us a little extra energy in the body and mind.

Doing lion's breath can also feel a little bit playful, goofy and silly — and giving ourselves permission to be curious, play, and just let ourselves be silly for a couple of minutes can be such a powerful tool for bringing ourselves into the green zone with a little extra kindness to ourselves.