In the yogic text Gheranda Samhita, Simhasana is described as the destroyer of all diseases. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the versatility of this yoga pose is quite under-rated.
More often than not we have a tendency to forget/overlook our ankles because they are such a crucial part of your body that one often takes it for granted. It takes a minor injury or discomfort for us to realize just how important the network of tendons, bones, muscles running through your ankle are. Runners always needs to stretch before their runs, and this obviously includes the ankles, but sometimes leg raises and ankle rotations just aren’t enough and you need to do more than just the 5 minutes to actually make your ankles much stronger.
One yoga pose that’s terrific for your ankle is the Simhasana or the Lion Pose – often also called Lion’s Breath. Not only does it give your ankles a nice stretch, it also helps work your breathing and inner core.
Simhasana offers many variations, but all of them require you to start off in a sitting position, with your knees bent. Your knees could be bent towards your body, or in a regular folded manner, or criss-crossed on top of each other. Pick a position that’s most comfortable for you.
Next tuck your hands under your thighs, with the palms facing downwards. Bend forward slightly, while resting the weight of the body on the arms. Now, tilt your head backwards and open your mouth, while keeping your tongue drawn out, forward and downwards as much as you can.
Gaze at the space groove between your eyebrows with eyes wide open to achieve the Bhrumadhya Drishti stage. Breathe deeply in this position, and let out a loud ‘sigh’ to imitate the breathing of a lion with tongue outside. Relax your muscles in the back, abdomen and chest in the final position.
One of the key benefits of this pose is that it solves many voice related problems. This asana is said to remove defects of the throat, nose, mouth and ears. It is known to remove bad breath and also help in cases of stuttering or stammering. The sticking out of the tongue is a crucial part of this pose, even if it makes you look silly for a minute.
Of course, due to the flexing of the ankle muscles under your body or the pressure exerted by your abdomen on the ankles in the forward-bend pose will greatly relieve any sore muscles or tendons in your ankles, leaving them feeling supple and agile.
The final position is key to relieving tension in the chest and lower back area, while your facial and neck muscles get a nice stretch to bring vitality and vigour to your face. The steady breathing and gazing stage is a great reliever for the tension in the neck area, and helps in working out the deeper muscles in your chest, belly and the abdomen.
Some practitioners call the Lion Breath a release of negative energy. The visible and sometimes violent exhalation along with the loud expression can help you achieve a state of relaxation through the release of pent-up negative emotions. It also teaches you the benefits of concentration, particularly the role it plays in relieving stress.
Main image: simply-yoga.co.il