4 Practices to Evoke the Courageous Spirit of a Lion

4 Practices to Evoke the Courageous Spirit of a Lion

Getty/patrick verhoef

The lion is a powerful symbol and ally for inner courage and self-expression. One Vedic teacher offers four steps to embody this animal teacher.

Though it is sometimes romanticized as a pleasant walk through the park, traversing the spiritual path is truly the hardest journey any of us can undertake. This is because it brings us face to face with all the people, situations, and tendencies we may otherwise most like to avoid or pretend don’t exist.

On the spiritual journey, lions are great spirit animals to call upon for guidance. Lions epitomize courage, strength, and power. They are called the kings of the jungle, and for good reason. We can actively evoke their spirit to liberate ourselves spiritually in the face of all kinds of outer adversities we may be confronted with.

Since before I ever embarked upon my own spiritual journey, I have been very drawn to lions. They appear frequently in my dreams as guides and encourage me to show up as the most empowered and courageous version of myself. I have benefited greatly from spiritual practices that help me embody the spirit of a lion, and I am delighted to share some of them with you. May they be a source of strength, power, and inspiration for your journey as well.

1. Observe How Lions Behave in Nature

    When I first learned Lion’s Pose (called Simhasana in Sanskrit) from a lineage-based spiritual teacher, I felt so awkward and unable to really own the power of my voice. During that experience, I discovered how much I identified with my female body and how limiting and disempowering that felt. It was not easy for me to learn this pose because I had to first disconnect from my normal association with my physical body and consider the experience of another being altogether.

    Therefore, the first step I took to embody the power of the lion, which I would invite you to join me in doing, was to search for videos of lions roaring (ideally in the wild) on YouTube. The ancient Vedic sages spent their entire lifetimes simply observing nature and seeing what we can learn from her majesty. It was from their observations that the practice of yoga asanas (physical postures) emerged in the form of poses that mimic the behaviors of wild animals.

    We can follow the example of these sages by seeing for ourselves exactly how lions behave. When I did this myself, I learned how lions allow themselves to be fully expressed. They don’t hold anything back or suppress their own sound. The power of liberating our natural sound is a sacred lesson we, too, can learn from merely observing lions roaring.

    2. Visualize Yourself as a Lion

      Once you have spent some time observing the behaviors of lions, it helps to close your eyes and activate the power of your imagination to visualize being a lion yourself.

      When you close your eyes to do this, really imagine yourself in the wild, looking down to see large paws instead of your normal hands or feet. Imagine yourself picking up one paw and feeling the weight of putting it back down. Notice how much more capable you are now as a lion.

      I love to imagine myself as Simba or Mufasa on Pride Rock, as depicted in The Lion King. I will visualize myself walking up the rock and looking out over the horizon to survey the territory and plan out how to protect my kingdom.

      You can also imagine yourself in one of the scenes you watched of lions in the wild. What would it be like to know that you are big enough to destroy anything that gets in your way? Reflect on how your life would change if you, too, knew you had the power to destroy any and all obstacles on your path to spiritual growth.

      How would you act if you knew you were as big and strong as a lion? What would you do?

      3. Roar Like a Lion

        It’s very important to make sure you spend a good amount of time on steps 1 and 2 before moving forward, as these will prepare you to now activate the sound of your own sacred roar. Prior to attempting this, visualize your roar activating from deep within your pelvic floor and rising through your stomach and chest, into your throat, and finally out through your mouth.

        Give yourself permission to release this powerful sound from deep within your being. This will be a process, so don’t worry if you sound squeaky or mousy on your first attempt (or first 50 attempts) at roaring.

        The most important thing is to do it with all your presence and being. Practice will lead to improvement over time.

        4. Practice Lion’s Pose

          Lion’s Pose makes you feel strong, vigorous, majestic, and powerful, like a lion. Regular practice of Lion’s Pose improves your sense of hearing, your digestive power, and your ability to recall, understand, and implement knowledge at the ripest moments, when you really need to do so. This pose clarifies anger and empowers you to overcome fear. It’s a very empowering pose for those with a fear of public speaking, and can help reduce stammering and stuttering.

          Because this pose is more advanced, I highly recommend learning it directly from a skilled teacher, and then referring to the steps I’ll share with you next to review the practice as you make it part of your own home yoga routine.

          As with all yoga poses, the most beneficial thing you can do is connect with your intention of embodying the spirit of the lion (versus doing all the following steps perfectly).

          To practice, start seated on your knees. Spread them apart widely. Put your hands on the floor in front of you. Turn your hands toward your body, so your fingers point towards you. Tuck your hands under your thighs. Lean forward, like a lion ready to pounce, with the weight of your body against your arms.

          Inhale deeply through your nose. Next, visualize your sound coming from deep within your pelvic floor, through your stomach, up your throat, and out of your mouth as you open your mouth wide and stretch your tongue out. Make a loud roaring sound as you exhale. Gaze straight out in front of you at a single point as you do so.

          Repeat this roaring a few times, pausing in between each roar to gently massage your throat.

          If you aren't able to perform this expression of the pose, you can do Lion's Pose sitting in a chair, or you can simply focus on making the roaring sound in step 3.

          Wishing you much empowerment and liberation as you evoke the powerful and courageous spirit of a lion!

          Learn how letting go is the key to true pleasure.

          4 Practices to Evoke the Courageous Spirit of a Lion

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