Feeling agitated, stressed, or hot? Try sheetali pranayama: yoga’s cooling breath.

This simple and straightforward breathing technique acts like a natural air conditioning system, making it especially useful in the approaching hot summer months. When you roll your tongue and inhale, you’ll feel icy cold air being drawn in. In fact, the name of this pranayama exercise is derived from its root word sheet, which means cold. The word sheetal means ‘that which is calm, passionless, and soothing’, and just a few rounds of this breath cools both body and mind.

When to practice sheetali pranayama:

– If you’re feeling hot at the end of your yoga session, practice sheetali pranayama to restore the body’s temperature balance.

– Practice it anytime you’ve got the sensation of overheating.

– Use it to reduce acidity and burning sensations.

– Practice just before sleep to bring about mental tranquility and muscular relaxation.

– If you’re agitated or angry, use this breath to cool your mind.

 When not to practice sheetali pranayama:

– If you have chronic constipation, low blood pressure, a cold, or respiratory disorders.

– During winter or cold climates.

How to do sheetali pranayama:

Sit with your legs crossed, or in any comfortable seated position.

Close your eyes.

Roll your tongue to form a tube.

Inhale slowly and deeply through your tongue.

Close your mouth and exhale through your nose– this is one round.

Practice between 9 and 15 rounds.

Modifications:

If you can’t roll your tongue, open your lips and inhale through clenched teeth. This breath, called sheetkari pranayama, has the same cooling effect.

Yoga has the potential to transform both body and mind– sheetali pranayama being a great example.

 

Check out my ebook Yoga for Health and Happiness for more pranayama exercises, asanas, and yoga guidance for a practice that truly serves you.

Reference: Swami Satyananda Saraswati.  Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha.  Bihar, India:  Yoga Publications Trust, 2008.

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