Learning How to Bring in the Cooling Aspect of Air to Cool Down: Sitali/Sitkari (Cooling) Pranayama (Breath)
Our last article was on the warming breath Ujjayi. Today we will cover the cooling breaths Sitali/Sitkari.
Let’s come to the front edge of our chair and sit in Sitting Mountain Pose. Postural Alignment on your chair, any chair anywhere!
If you live in a warm climate, or if your body feels inflamed or headachy or if you are a Pitta Dosha or type A personality, try this delightful breath. I used to live in Palm Springs where the temperatures could reach over 120 degrees. I was a Pitta with a Vata imbalance along with a type A personality. YIKES! On one occasion I did an American Indian Sweat Lodge and boy did I get hot! I started to incorporate the Sitali breath and I really “cooled my jets” so to speak! (Since moving to the beach and doing more yoga and meditation I am now a Vata Dosha! YIPPEE!).
To start, there are at least two ways to fashion your tongue for the breath.
One way to cool down is to curl your tongue like a “curled leaf” or “bird’s beak.” Make an O shape with your mouth while sticking-out and curling your tongue lengthwise. Then draw in a breath as if drinking through a straw and fill your lungs fully (the quicker, the cooler you will get). At the end of the inhalation draw your tongue back in, close your mouth and hold your breath for 5-10 seconds. Exhale through your nose and repeat this cycle for 5 breaths. Add a few breaths with each passing day until you can do the breath 5-10 minutes. This is Sitali Pranayama.
If you are unable to curl your tongue, try Sitkari, which is similar to Sitali except that the tongue is kept flat. Part your lips and allow the tip of your tongue to protrude slightly. Practice gently and without intensity.
Refinements of the technique
- Sit tall like a Mountain.
- Hands rest palm facing up on your legs bringing the tips of the thumb and pointer fingers together in Gyan Mudra.
- After the full inhalation, lower your head from the nape of the neck toward the notch between the collar bones just above the breast bone. The head is now in Jālandhara Bandha (neck lock) position. Exhale slowly.
- Lift the head and repeat.
Benefits of the Sitali/Sitkari breath
- Cools the system
- Soothes the eyes and ears
- Helps to lower fever and biliousness.
- Activates the liver and spleen
- Improves digestion
- Relieves thirst
Namasté! I honor the Light that shines within you that also shines within me!