Sitali Pranayama - The cooling breath
Yogis, long ago, discovered that Sitali Pranayama (cooling breath) was a great way to soothe, relax and cool body and mind.
Sitali is a Sanskrit word meaning “cooling” or “soothing.”
The technique adds moisture to your system, it soothes the mind and softens a pitta dosha imbalance.
The three Ayurvedic doshas are derived from the five elements and are a unique mix of physical, emotional, and mental characteristics.
Health exists once you can find a balance of all three; Vata, Pitta, Kapha.
If you’ve ever felt hot and bothered, burned with anger, suffered from hot flushes or just feeling rosy from the summer heat, then the cooling breath is the perfect approach to counteract these feelings.
How to practice Sitali
To start, sit comfortably in an easy pose with a straight spine and neck in line - You can also sit comfortably in a chair.
Close your eyes, inhale and exhale naturally for a few breaths
Open your mouth and make an ‘O’ shape with your lips, no need to make your lips too tight.
Curl your tongue round at the sides and project from your mouth slightly, making a smaller O with your tongue.
Inhale deeply in as if you are sucking through a straw - letting the air pass cooling your tongue and throat
Bring your tongue in and close the mouth, exhale slowly through your nose, releasing the hot air.
Repeat as many times as you like, and try to bring pranayama practice into your daily routine
Yogis who find it challenging to roll their tongue then the sister pranayama Sitkari can be practiced - make an ‘eee’ mouth and draw the breath in through closed teeth, creating a sucking noise.
If you are still feeling anger, frustration or just too hot and cranky, then try in front of a mirror.
Sitali Pranayama tutorial
What are the benefits of Sitali Pranayama?
It is believed that Sitali Pranayama has many effects on the body, such as;
- Bile reduction - reducing the amount of bile waste that causes heartburn
- Reduces anxiety and stress
- Increased concentration
- Controls hunger and quenches the thirst
- Great for calming and cooling pregnant mama’s
- Reduces high blood pressure
- Helps bad breath
Pranayama should be practiced with gentle self-awareness and care.
If your feeling light-headed, experiencing respiratory problems, have a cold or suffer from asthma then take it slow or try to avoid.
Avoid Sitali in colder climates. You want the breath coming in to be closer to your own body temperature so try in hot weather, after an intense yoga practice or with other heating pranayamas.
Pranayama aids in deep relaxing sleep, so if you find yourself troubled before sleep then practice slowly and often.
Try to be as focused as possible, letting your mind relax and be fully concentrated on what you are practicing at the time.
With patience and time, you will start to see the benefits of Sitali Pranayama. Invite it into your yoga practice and day to day routine.
Do you want to deepen your knowledge and practice pranayama? Then we recommend starting our eight-week-long program or look at any of our other pranayama classes at the member's area. Read more about the history of pranayama and hatha yoga.