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How to Do the Yoga-with-Weights Lion Exercise

You may not realize it, but you hold tension in your face and jaw. The Lion, a classic yoga exercise to which we’ve added weights, is designed to release this tension — and to amuse anyone who’s in the room while you do it. Warning: You make a funny face in this exercise. The Lion also opens up your shoulders, widens your collarbone, and strengthens your spine.

You need your hand weights and ankle weights to become king or queen of the gym. Follow these steps:

  1. Sit comfortably in a cross-legged position with the ankle weights resting on your thighs; rest the hand weights on the ground alongside your body, with your palms facing backward.

    This is the starting position. Your spine should be erect, and your ankles should be aligned with your heels. The ankle weights help anchor you during the exercise.

    If you can’t sit this way comfortably, sit on a pillow or mat.

  2. Exhaling to a count of four, lift the hand weights forward to ear height, making 90-degree angles with your bent arms.

  3. With the last of your breath, thrust out your tongue and say “ah.”

    Lower your jaw and stick your tongue out — don’t be shy. Make the “ah” sound, a slight growling noise.

  4. Inhaling to a count of four, lower the hand weights down to your sides and close your mouth (pull your tongue in first) to return to the starting position.

    Take a moment to enjoy how tension-free your face and jaw feel.

Do this exercise six to eight times, take a rest, and then do it another six to eight times.

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