Yoga, in its essence, allows us to be more in touch with our inner and deeper selves through meditations and asanas. It helps us to fine tune the outside world, and consequently, allows us to focus and harmonize our Self and being. One of those asanas is simhasana, the lion pose. What is that lion pose called simhasana? This can bring sync to self and your being. You can let go of worldly attachment by practicing proper asanas.
Notably, one of the most basic concepts of yoga is letting go of worldly attachments or raga, which is one of the kleshas or afflictions that cause suffering. In letting go of attachments, we subsequently let go of our inhibitions.
These inhibitions are generally caused by an attachment to how others perceive you or how they may judge you. Yoga helps us to tune down that noise created by others’ judgments through the practice of certain asanas which may, other than being psychologically helpful, also prove to be physiologically or physically beneficial.
What is that lion pose called Simhasana?
One of the yogic asanas or postures is Simhasana. Although it may seem paradoxical that we let go of worldly attachments during asanas practiced with meditation, we, in turn, become more attached to our physical body in that we become more aware of our body’s power and limitation in each twist, bend, or stretch in our asana.
This awareness allows us to push beyond these limitations through the consistent exercise of any particular asana. Different asanas deal with different portions of our bodies. One of the few asanas which focuses on the face is Simhasana.
Simhasanacomes from the Sanskrit word simhan which means “the powerful one.” Literally, Simhasanameans lion pose. In order to get the full benefit of this asana, one must imitate in exact fashion, the lion’s pose. It is one of the few asanas which demands us to make a sound, which must be like that of a lion’s roar. Similar to the lion’s roar, this asana is strong and powerful. Aside from allowing us to let go of our inhibitions, Simhasana results to a number of physiological benefits, most particularly on our face.
Relevant Discussion on Simhasana
There are eight limbs of yoga. Each of which offers different stages of awakening or self-realization. These are: Yama which is moral discipline, Niyama which refers to observances, Asana which are the physical postures, Pranayama or the breathing techniques, Pratyahara or the withdrawal of senses, Dharana which pertains to concentration, Dhyana or meditation, and Samadhi which is enlightenment. All these limbs are employed in Simhasana.
One of the Yamas or moral disciplines that yoga imparts is Aparigraha or non-attachment. These Yamas are those that we carry even beyond the yoga mat, which we utilize in leading our daily lives. While non-attachment generally refers to non-possessiveness or refraining from greed, it also properly pertains to detachment from any type of fear, which may come in the form things that constrain us like fear of judgment from others.
Aparigraha in our mind deals with this fear of judgment. Aparigraha offers us great liberty in pushing beyond our limitations as it allows us to let go of our inhibitions, fear of others’ judgments or even our own judgment or negative perception of ourselves, our abilities, and competencies. This level of liberty allows us to come into terms with the concept of Parinamavada or a state of transformation.
There are two variations of Parinamavada. First is Satkaryavada which is the Samkhya theory of Parinamavada which maintains that every cause or sat produces a result or karya, which is intrinsically embedded in that cause such as in a case of a fruit which materially includes a seed that naturally produces that very same fruit.
This theory recognizes that the result already pre-exists in its cause. On the other hand, Asatkaryavada basically espouses the theory that a karya or result does not exist within the cause or sat and only comes into existence upon its happening. For example, it views a fruit as materially different from its seed.
There are also two different views on Satkaryavada which are Prakriti-paranimavada and Brahma-vivartavada. In the former, it is believed that the result is the parinama or actual transformation of the cause. While the latter maintains that Brahman is the real cause and that the world is only its false appearance.
The Samkhya espouses the theory of Prakriti-parinamavada. Prakriti is believed to be the original cause of all existent objects in the world, and because prakriti comprises of gunas that constantly balance each other, it is believed to be dynamic and ever-changing.
Under this theory, the movement between constantly balancing gunas results to the evolution or manifestations of Prakriti into different objects. This manifestation produces 23 categories of objects.
Among these, the first evolute is Mahat or intellect which is manifested from the dominance of sattva in the balancing gunas. Sattva comprises of positivity, balance, and luminosity. The next to evolve from Mahat is Ahamkara or the sense of self.
Two categories of objects then result from Ahamkara. The first category consists of the mind (or the manas), the motor organs, and the sense organs which are used to perceive the world around us. While the other category consists of elements which may either be subtle or gross.
The subtle elements or tanmatras consist of elemental touch or sparsha, sound or shabda, color or rupa, taste or rasa, and smell or gandha. On the other hand, the gross elements result from the combination of these subtle elements, which are water, air, earth, fire and space. For example, air is perceivable through the combination of touch or sparsha and sound or shabda.
From the above-mentioned theories, we come to realize that the world is ever-changing, as well as our perception of it, which necessarily also includes how we perceive ourselves. Truly, change is the only fixed thing in life.
Even the bodies that house our being undergo constant changes. Comparable to a house that wear and tear, “repairs” and “maintenance” must be introduced to prevent, or at least, slow down its continued degradation. And because change is constant, we want it to move towards the positive direction. Certain asanas may be treated as “repairs” and “maintenance” that allow for positive changes in our bodies that prevent its “wear and tear.”
Simhasana: Its Benefits and How You Do It
Simhasana is an asana which introduces positive changes in the face, in particular. Characteristic of Simhasana is the lion’s roar which allows for release of tension in the body as it invigorates the throat and softens the muscles of the jaw and mouth through the release of sound.
The roar must result from a powerful breathing out, and must come out freely although forcefully. As it results from an exhalation, the roar sounds like a breathy ‘ha’ as it is caused by the release of air from the contraction of the abdomen and the pelvic floor muscles.
Simhasana allows for the dominance of sattva or positivity and luminosity in ourselves as it releases stress and tension from our system. Furthermore, it is an asana that subscribes to Aparigraha in the mind, and consequently frees us from our inhibitions. It allows for a more positive disposition in life and transforms us into happier, more carefree versions of ourselves. It also improves our ahamkara or sense of self.
Aside from its psychological benefits, Simhasana also has a number of physiological or physical benefits. Since it particularly focuses on the muscles of the face, it lifts it up by stimulating the muscles of the jaw, mouth, and tongue. The lungs are also benefited from the exhalation, inhalation, and regulated breathing in sequence or pranayama.
In turn, the healthy flow of oxygen in the body from the consistent practice of Simhasana further improves respiratory health and prevents bad breath or halitosis. Because it softens the muscles of the mouth and releases tension from the jaw, it helps prevent teeth grinding. It also relaxes the muscles in the neck and back.
One of the most notable benefits of the consistent practice of Simhasana is its beauty benefits. Since this asana mainly engages muscles in the face, it increases blood flow which causes a more youthful appearance and luminosity in the face. It serves as a very effective anti-aging regimen which helps slow down the development of crow’s feet and wrinkles.
To perform Simhasana, start with vajrasana by kneeling with the toes pointing backwards, and the butt resting on your heels. Before beginning the pose, take note of your breath and observe pranayama. Regulate your breathing while inhaling deeply through your nose. Then, open your mouth and stick your tongue out as far as you can. Simultaneously roll up your eyes and focus on the area between your eyebrows.
Slightly lift your heels to engage your whole body and push your hand to your knees, with your fingers spread apart. When you are already wholly engaged in the pose, you will find that breathing out brings you forward like a lion about to attack its prey. When you have released all your energy from the pose, relax and soften the body while sitting back on your heels as you breathe in. Repeat these three times.
To avoid any issues while doing this asana, make sure to consult with a doctor or a yoga instructor. It is important to exercise all precautions before practicing the asana prescribed in this article.
Yoga is indeed transformative. Through Simhasana, we are able to experience Paranimavada in its truest sense as it transforms us into more beautiful versions of ourselves free from inhibitions and fear of judgment by others. Practice it consistently!