April 18, 2023

King of the Jungle: How To Practice Lion’s Breath (and Why It’s Good for You)

This yogic breathing technique may help relieve stress and anxiety

person deep breathing during yoga

Cue Katy Perry’s song “Roar” and get ready to practice lion’s breath, a yogic breathing technique that’ll have you acting like the king of the jungle and feeling like the king of the world.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Functional medicine specialist Melissa Young, MD, explains how doing your best Simba imitation may help you feel both relaxed and empowered.

What is lion’s breath?

Known in Sanskrit as simha pranayama, lion’s breath is a yogic breathing technique in which you mimic a lion’s roar — minus the roaring part.

Where many breathing techniques are quiet, slow and gentle, lion’s breath is a bit more overtly powerful. As you do it, you stick out your tongue and let out an audible exhale: A big, whooshing “haaaa” sound.

Lion’s breath benefits

There’s very little research on the science of lion’s breath in particular, but there are plenty of studies about the value of breathwork techniques (pranayama) overall. Dr. Young explains a few of them.

Good for your lungs

When you’re in the habit of regularly practicing breathing techniques, you increase your oxygen levels and your lung capacity. One study says that regular pranayama helps improve nearly all of your lung functions.

“Practicing deep and intentional breathing can expand the lungs and strengthen your respiratory muscles,” Dr. Young adds.

Relieves stress

Pranayama has been shown to be a powerful tool for managing and reducing stress.


“When you practice yogic breathing, you activate your body’s parasympathetic nervous system and move out of fight-or-flight mode,” Dr. Young explains. “These breathing techniques are also associated with lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.”

Plus, the facial movements that come with lion’s breath in particular — like opening your mouth and sticking out your tongue — activate your facial muscles, which can release tension there.

Reduces anxiety

If you deal with fear and anxiety in social settings, lion’s breath could help you feel more confident facing the world.

One study found that a yoga sequence including simhasana, the yoga pose associated with lion’s breath, may be especially helpful for introverts who cope with social anxiety disorders.

Possible side effects of lion’s breath

For some people with chronic pain, a study found that lion’s breath was “excessively stimulating and disorienting,” resulting in lightheadedness.

“If you’re prone to dizzy spells, skip lion’s breath,” Dr. Young advises, “and be sure to speak with your healthcare provider to figure out the source of that issue.”

How to do lion’s breath

You can practice simha pranayama anywhere, whether you’re in the quiet of your office or just trying to unwind at home. Dr. Young explains how to do it:

  1. Get into a comfortable seated position, with your back straight and your hands resting on your knees or thighs.
  2. Start with a few deep breaths to clear your mind.
  3. To begin lion’s breath, inhale deeply through your nose for a few counts.
  4. “As you exhale, breathe out through your mouth, sticking out your tongue and making a ‘haaaa’ sound,” Dr. Young says. “Your gaze should move gently upward, toward the ceiling.” This is one round of lion’s breath.
  5. Repeat five to 10 times, taking a few normal breaths in between rounds as needed.
  6. End your practice by breathing deeply for at least one minute.

“Lion’s breath might feel sort of silly at first,” Dr. Young acknowledges, “but as you practice it, you’ll start to feel more comfortable and less inhibited.”

There’s also a related yoga pose, known as roaring lion pose or simhasana, in which you imitate a lion with the rest of your body, too. Starting on your knees, settle your weight back a bit, with your hips resting at your heels. Press your hands into the floor in front of you.

But you don’t need to do the yoga pose to reap the effects of the breathing technique.

“You can incorporate lion’s breath into your yoga practice,” Dr. Young says, “but you can also do it as a standalone practice, whenever you want.”

Related Articles

Child using smartphone and with social media and texts bubbles around him
January 15, 2024
How Social Media Can Negatively Affect Your Child

Too much screen time and unrealistic expectations and perceptions and can lead to an increased risk of anxiety and depression

female lying on yoga mat stretching
January 3, 2024
How Restorative Yoga Can Nurture Your Mind, Body and Spirit

This mindful practice is designed to give you mental and physical relaxation

Person huddled on floor with arms around knees with thought bubbles above head
January 3, 2024
Anxiety vs. Depression: Which Do I Have (or Is It Both)?

Although different conditons, they can occur together or cause one another

person in wheelchair lifting weights in gym
December 26, 2023
7 New Year’s Resolutions To Improve Your Heart Health

Resolve to move a little more, drink a little less, eat a little healthier, sleep a little better and destress a lot

female sweating in gym with male lifting weights in background
December 25, 2023
Gymtimidation: How To Push Through Gym Anxiety

If the thought of the gym sends you spiraling, do some prep work beforehand and bring a friend along for support

Overhead view, female and male in kitchen preparing food, christmas tree and baking pans
December 18, 2023
How To Avoid Hometown Anxiety and Holiday Regression

Stay merry and bright by knowing your triggers and journaling throughout your visit

close up of green coffee beans
December 14, 2023
Should You Go Green? What To Know About Green Coffee Bean Extract

There’s no evidence to prove this supplement can help with weight loss, and it may come with risks

female wearing super hero cape standing in front a crowd of people
December 14, 2023
You’re the Star of the Show With Main Character Syndrome

Being the center of attention doesn’t mean you have to exile your guest stars

Trending Topics

close up of keto gummies
Do Keto Gummies Work for Weight Loss? Are They Safe?

Research is inconclusive whether or not these supplements are helpful

Person in yellow tshirt and blue jeans relaxing on green couch in living room reading texts on their phone.
Here’s How Many Calories You Naturally Burn in a Day

Your metabolism may torch 1,300 to 2,000 calories daily with no activity

Older person postioned sideways showing dowager hump.
Dowager’s Hump: What It Is and How To Get Rid of It

The hump at the base of your neck may be caused by osteoporosis or poor posture