Sitali Pranayama | ‘Cooling Breath’
Sitali pranayama (sometimes written “Shitali pranayama”) is a very useful breathing technique for lowering the body temperature. As it’s name ‘Cooling Breath” implies, it’s ideal when the body temperature rises. For example, during the summer season or when you are in environments dominated by heat and high humidity.
Simultaneously, Sitali pranayama is indicated in moments of increased mind/body tension. This could be feelings of anger or agitation, or emotions and sensations that can cause an increase in body temperature.
Thirdly, it’s utilized and is suitable after practicing a dynamic yoga sequence, as a way to return the body to a state of balance. Sitali pranayama has a different “end goal” then other breathing practices that’s goal is to “light an internal fire”. The goal of Sitali, is quite the opposite. Thus, indicates that breathing techniques can be extremely versatile for the body, mind and spirit.
Sitali Pranayama Benefits:
As beforementioned, Sitali Pranayama is useful for lowering temperature. Therefore is touted as a way to reduce fever, fight hot flashes during menopause, and much more. In fact, it may help to:
- Promote muscle relaxation;
- Refresh the brain and bring clarity;
- Lower your blood pressure;
- Calm emotions;
- Relieve Stress;
- Refresh the body;
- Detoxify the nervous system;
- Stimulate the flow of prana (life energy) throughout the body.
Shitali pranayama is not recommended:
- During the winter;
- For those suffering from low blood pressure;
- For those suffering from respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis or excess mucus;
- In polluted places because the air is not filtered through the nose.
When & How Much To Practice Sitali Pranayama:
Oftentimes, you’ll see Sitali practiced in Kundalini yoga. You can practice Sitali pranayama once a day for 6/12 cycles (remember, a complete cycle consists of an inhalation and an exhalation) or as needed.
Within your Yoga practice, utilize this breathing technique after more vigorous asanas or at the end of a dynamic yoga session, such as ashtanga, vinyasa or power yoga. When you need to find that calm, sense of freshness, or cooling, remember your breath!
Sitali Pranayama Sequence:
There are several yoga schools of thought. The technique called Sitali Pranayama differs in small details. However, the basic procedure is similar for all traditions, and can be summarized as follows:
- Sit in a comfortable, but upright. It is important to dedicate this time as peacefully as possible. Find a quit surrounding, without disruption;
- The eyes are closed and attention is paid to the breath. Listening to its rhythm. The feeling of full lungs vs. empty. Pay attention to depth, and any intermittent pauses;
- Gradually, the body relaxes, keeping it alert, but without tension;
- The mouth is half closed. The tongue out, bending in the shape of a U: this will act as a channel from which the air will flow-in during inhalation;
- Breath in with your mouth, feeling how fresh air passes over your tongue (practice pursed lips if unable to roll tongue);
- The mouth is closed and the tongue is placed on the palate after inhalation;
- Some schools, at this point, hold their breath or push it into the abdomen. In this case let’s allow things to occur spontaneously;
- Exhale from the nostrils, then begin a new cycle.
As a beginner to Sitali, practice for a few minutes, not more than five. If dizziness occurs, it means that we are forcing our breathing capacity, either by rhythm or by volume. If this occurs, breath normally once again.
Breathing says a lot about us, and forcing it, in the beginning, means forcing the message it wants to convey.
When you become more familiar Sitali Pranayama will become easier. In fact, you may position yourself in anyway, and at any time you feel the need.