The first time I was asked to do Lion’s Breath in a yoga class, I thought it was the silliest idea ever. Instead of sticking my tongue out, I “faked” it by modestly parting my lips and letting out a big sigh, inwardly rolling my eyes at the uselessness of what I was doing. In all the classes I’ve been to, with many different teachers across many yoga lineages, I’ve never been to a class where the teacher explains why we do this posture and how it improves our quality of life.

The muscles of the tongue share a fascial connection with

The muscles of the tongue share a fascial connection with the muscles of the Deep Front Line.

However, now that I know besides assisting us in digestion and speech, the tongue plays an important role in the Deep Front Fascial line identified by Thomas Myers, my rolling eyes have a different view. Did you know that this fascial line connects the tongue to our lungs, diaphragm, quadratus lumborum, psoas major, iliacus, knees, and even all the way down to our feet?  What would happen if the tongue were contracted and overworked after a day of discussing and dining?  Would it affect our breathing? Absolutely!  The next time when you’re holding Plank (or Serratus Plank) longer than you’d like to, notice what happens to your tongue.  A fun test: try to extend your tongue out while lowering down to chatturanga.  You will find it very difficult because, as a part of our integrated core, the tongue will also engage when the tubular core is engaged.

Even though not mentioned in our Yoga Tune Up® Level 1 training, these Yoga Tune Up® poses should include our unsung hero, the tongue, as an agonist: Tubular Core, Serratus Plank, and Pin the Arms of the Yogi; and as an antagonist: Cobra at the wall, Danurasana with blanket, and, last but not least, Ustrasana.  Finally, feel free to stick your tongue out at yogi friends more often to release and balance out the stress we have put on this amazingly influential and strong muscle.

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Linh Taylor

Linh Taylor is a certified Yoga Tune Up® instructor and a certified Yoga instructor through Yoga Source, Los Gatos. A martial arts practitioner since age eight, Linh combines her foundation in Shaolin Kungfu with a new found love in healing the body and mind with purposeful and intelligent movements. Linh's yoga classes are non traditional, combine Vinyasa Flow with Yoga Tune Up® and Fascial manipulation. When Linh is off the mat, she likes to explore local hikes, go camping and rock climbing, and plan her next adventures around the world. She lives in Sunnyvale with her husband and two beautiful cats, Lyla and Beatrix.

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María Kiekari

Wow! Now i am more interested on knowing more about the tongue AND the fascial lines. Great information.

Mélanie Roy

I still learned something by reading the blog! thanks for the wink on our fascinating language!

Alice Yuan

Cool!! What a fun fact (: who would believe it when you tell them your tongue is facially connected all the way to your toes? I wouldn’t have if you told me a few years ago! The more I understand the body, even to the specifics of the tongue, I become more in awe of the beings that we are!! Love it! Thank you!

Steve Araiza

Are there others exercises you would recommend for the tongue. My wife has been diagnosed with tongue-tie. From your page here and information I’m reviewing it seems to be a common problem that causes others problems in jaw, neck, shoulders and spine. Please tell me what you think of Sarah Hornsby’s YouTube video with Dr Daniel Lopez, D.O.? They discuss “tongue-tie”. Please and thanks

E B

Thank you for this very interesting article! I always wondered about Lion’s Breath and while I could feel its energetic effects, the physiological ones are fascinating–especially the idea of the tongue as an agonist! This also explains why when I used to talk a lot more I had very shallow breathing. Now can you please explain the physiological effects of crossing our eyes/ rolling them up to the ceiling during Lion’s Breath?

Angela Yonkovich

This is so interesting. Years ago I attended a yoga workshop years ago with Doug Swenson and that was my first introduction and experience with Lion’s breath. Thank you for re-educating me on the connection with the tongue and the Deep Front Fascial Line. I admit, the first experience I felt silly!

Ashley Burger

What a great idea! This is such a forgotten muscle while it is constantly a part of our life. I work with dancers and actors and I will have to remember to incorporate this next time we do some of these outlined poses!

Chelsea

Very interesting connections between tongue and the rest of the body. Fascinating how we can hold tension in all parts of the body, even areas we would never think about. After reading more about the tongue I notice how often I “thrust” my tongue towards my teeth, and also am aware of where my tongue is sitting in my mouth. There seems to be some debate about the proper resting position for the tongue, I am wondering what you feel to be the correct “resting” position for tongue– at bottom or top of mouth? After getting fascial intra-oral massage as… Read more »

Amber Green

This was a mind blowing article for me. I am a tense person. I have developed tension in my jaw creating tinnitus and migraines. I cease to be amazed by how connected the body is. I love lion’s breath because it relieves some of the tension in my jaw. But I am also sensitive in many of the areas mentioned that the tongue is connected to. I did this breathing with children because it was fun but I think with this knowledge I can apply it in a more comprehensive way to the adults, so they won’t feel so apprehensive… Read more »

Trevor Gribble

Yes, this is the kind of post I am looking for. So much tension can exist in the tongue. I can enjoy a lovely 10 minute savasana and then realize I’ve been gripping in my tongue the entire time. Sure there are lots of emotions involved there, and we can get deep into yoga and start talking about the throat chakra and all that it might represent. But I’m very fascinated in looking at the tongue through the lens of anatomy and fascia theory. Thanks for opening up this can of worms in my head. Looking forward to jumping down… Read more »

Josh

I love that you took the time to discuss the tongue! It’s such an overlooked muscle, but it can have huge consequences on our movement! Not only is it directly connected to many muscles of the deep front line, but it also has direct connections and influence on the muscles of the hyoid. The hyoid bone has some special properties that makes it a huge influencer of total body motor control. If the tongue is overcompensating for something in the intrinsic core, you can bet you’ll find some crazy movement dysfunction!

Kris Killian

awesome!!! i too never knew there was an anatomical link with lions breath. i did it a few times now and definitely felt the link to my core and how it releases neck muscles. fascinating! this is why i love YTU – learn something new everyday! thank you

Dana Healey

Lynh, wow, I never thought about the tongue contacting to those – distal or proximal. I didn’t think it was connected like you mentioned. I too thought the lion’s breath was silly an un justified. Fascia connections are interesting and often under looked. I will further research your findings, thank you for the interesting blog!

Aude

Amazing! I recently discovered the connection between the jaw and the hips, but the tongue… i had never thought of it but it makes total sense. Thank you for bringing this to my attention I will definitely pay greater awareness to the connection between the tongue and the deep front fascial line.

Angi bloom

I never considered the connection to the core but will certainly explore it. I always thought of the lion as a tension reliever and nothing more. Thanks for shining a new light on this.

Karen

Great post which highlights just one of the many ways our bodies are so intricately interwoven. When posts such as yours bring our awareness to these connections it is so fun to become a student of the body again and to try to feel and experience the connections – and yes sticking my tongue out in plank did not assist with that pose at all! Thanks – I, like you, will now have a whole new appreciation for lion’s breath!

Michelle Corbeil

Wow! Super interesting about the tongue connected to lungs and diaphragm. I am continually in awe at how interconnected we are. Fascial lines are amazing and loved learning tongue connected all the way to the toes – tip of the tone to tip of the toes I guess.

Morgan Macgregor

Mary Bond teaches a really cool workshop about the tongue and other facial muscles in relation to neck pain. I never thought of myself as a jaw clencher but recently I noticed that while the jaw itself wasn’t sore, I was experiencing what I can only describe as inner-mouth tension. I dug around on the internet and found this Mary Bond workshop and was amazed to find how releases my tongue from deep inside loosened up not only my neck and shoulders but upper back, chest and arms. Pretty amazing!

Isabelle Barter

Wow! I had no idea Lion’s breath was actually effecting anything on on physiological level! It is shocking to discover the tongue’s connection to the lungs, diaphragm, QL,and psoas. Everything really is interconnected through the fascia in our bodies!

Andrew

There is another article on the tongue, but I found that this article hits a different perspective. I had no clue that the tongue fascia is connected to the fascial line all the way down to our toes. I’m going to be more aware of what’s going on inside my mouth, with my tongue the next time I’m practicing!

Joshua

I had heard that the tongue was one of the most used muscles in our bodies (some people more than others lol). To be honest I, like many people probably take for granted our tongues in yoga class since we arent talking much if at all. Thanks for this perspective and I look forward to experimenting with extending my tongue during chatturanga.

Ann F

This blog peaked my interest about the tongue and the DFL. infact i was so curious i looked it up in my Thomas Myers 2nd edition. maybe you can clarify this for me, in the 2nd edition, i don’t see the tongue mentioned. I’ve shyed away from teaching the Lion’s Breath in class~ yes, it is pretty odd looking and most people giggle and fake their way through the breath. i am really fascinated and intrigued about this. i will introduce it to the students. Thank you for the info!

Daniella B.

In the midst of the anatomy portion of my teacher training, I have been thinking a lot about anatomy trains and how dysfunctions or laziness in one part of the body have effects elsewhere. I used to clench my jaw in strenuous poses, and when I discovered how much more ease I could find in my body by consciously relaxing my jaw I made it a practice to ask myself what my jaw is doing in any given pose. Other than in savasana, though, I rarely bring my attention to what my tongue is doing, but will do so when… Read more »

Aubrey Heinemann

This is fascinating information on how the tongue shares a fascia connection with the deep front line. I teach Prenatal and often use Lion’s Breath as a way to destress and a warm up to find their voice. Now I have just that much more information to share with my students about the great benefits of doing Lion’s Breath. I did also try sticking my tongue out while being in Mega Plank. I had to be very conscious not to lose my tubular core when sticking out my tongue. I could do it but it was a conscious effort to… Read more »

jackie leduc

LOVE IT! I will now have awesome info to relay to my students when I teach lion’s breath! I have shied away from teaching it for the same reason’s you held back from doing it. I had no clue why it was so amazing!!!

Pete Shaw

Interesting connection. But does a tight tongue really affect your tubular core?

Denise

IN the teacher training manual, Jill talks about how we use food as a drug to numb emotions, pain, and stress: it is no wonder it acts like a drug when the tongue has such extensive fascial/muscular connections. The chatturanga piece did not work for me though… (i.e. did not seem that difficult, but maybe that’s because I’m tired and not using my core…)

Sherry Hilding

I find this to be very interesting. Many years ago Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen taught about how the way we use our mouths as babies influence how we reach to/relate to the world. This is how I remember it. We learned to make sounds as we moved our arms in a specific way. It was fun and the sounds were deepened when we moved our arms as opposed to not moving them.

Alex

I know I wouldn’t have sought out a blog post about the tongue, but it was at the top, I read it, and I’m glad I did! I definitely appreciate the reason behind lion’s breath (as the way you practices at first describes me too). As someone who speaks all day, every day for a living, I never even considered this muscle, which seems so silly now. Really happy to have something brought to my attention I wouldn’t have thought about on my own but need to.