March 2016: Lion's Breath
March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, in celebration of the end of winter and start of spring we will harness our inner lions and lionesses with Lion’s Breath, then move into a guided meditation to calm our minds and tune in to the gentle subtleness of our inner lamb.
For those of you who have had the opportunity to attend the Tuesday/Thursday night yoga classes at World of Nutrition, you are very familiar with Lion’s breath even though you may not realize it. In class we practice it right before heading into Savasana, when you open your eyes wide and touch your chin with your tongue. It always gets a few laughs in class but this breath is so great for relaxing the jaw, a place where many of us hold tension.
Traditionally, Lion’s breath should be practiced from hero’s pose. Come on to your shins and lower your hips to your heels. You may have the toes tucked to allow a stretch in the bottoms of the feet, but this can be very uncomfortable for many people. If you find discomfort with the toes tucked, then just allow the tops of the feet to rest directly on your yoga mat. Sitting in this position, allow the hands to rest on the thighs with the palms down. Then take a deep breath in through the nose and as you prepare to exhale through the mouth, you are going to open your eyes as wide as you can and look up towards the ceiling. At the same time, stick your tongue out as far as you can, trying to touch your chin with your tongue. Exhale strongly through the mouth making a HHHHAAAAAAA sound. Practice Lion’s breath 3 times then move through your home practice.
The asana portion (movement/pose/exercise portion) of yoga is designed to help prepare the body to be open so that you may sit comfortably, for longer periods during meditation. Use whatever home practice you like, using a few poses from classes you have taken, or following a DVD such as the AM/PM DVD available at WON. When you finish your practice and feel the body has been opened sufficiently, you are ready to sit for meditation.
You want to be comfortable during meditation. It can help to bring a folded blanket or cushion under the hips; you may also sit in a chair. Whatever seated position you choose, it’s important to sit up tall and keep the spine straight. Make sure you are in a quiet area where you will not be disturbed for the duration of your meditation.
Here is a short, guided meditation. This can be very helpful if you are new to meditation as it can be very difficult to still the mind in the beginning. As you sit and listen be aware that the mind may start to wander off, that’s okay, just gently draw your awareness back to the breath once you notice the mind has drifted. Do this as many times as necessary. Just like anything else, meditation gets easier with practice. Don’t get discouraged if you are not able to sit for the full, guided track on your first or second try. Just allow yourself to continue to come back to it and eventually you will find yourself sitting for longer and longer.
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