Cool down with yogic sitali pranayama

Woman practices pranayama in lotus pose outdoors

Ever feel irritated, anxious, overwhelmed, distracted or angry but not known how to change this feeling state?  Or have you been physically uncomfortable due to heat due to an internal flush or external heat? I want to share a simple but powerful cooling breath technique is really effective and absolutely free.  

It’s called Sitali Pranayama. Sitali is a Sanskrit word meaning “cooling” or “soothing.” Pranyama means breath (prana) control (yama). This technique will soothe the mind and literally cool the body system.

What is it good for? This breath technique reduces tension, high blood pressure and develops focus and concentration. 

Sitali Pranyama is also renowned in Kudalini yoga for it’s cleansing effect so use this regularly if you want to help your liver and spleen detox or if you’re experiencing some sort of inflammation or hot flush. 

Finally, it’s really great to use this any time you are physically overheating, feel emotionally agitated or like you just need to chill out.

How can I do it?

  • Sit with a straight spine on a chair or cross legged on the floor. Gently tuck your chin in (not down!) to lengthen the back of your neck.
  • Roll your tongue into a ‘U’ shape by pointing the tip of your tongue just outside your lips. Make sure that there’s space between the tip of your tongue and your top lip. Try to curl the sides of your tongue up into a straw like shape so that as you inhale you are sipping cool air through the straw of your tongue. 
  • But so don’t worry if you can’t, as the ability to curl the tongue a certain way is a genetic ability. Instead just make sure the tip of the tongue is outside the mouth and that you are inhaling air over the surface of the tongue.
  • As you begin the exhale slowly and steadily through the nose, place the tongue back into the mouth resting it as far back on the upper palate as you can. Breathe out slowly through the nostrils with the mouth closed. This transfers the heat of the upper palate onto the tongue, which will be cooled during the next inhalation.
  • Continue to inhale over rolled tongue and exhale through the nose for at least 3 minutes and ideally for 11 minutes. 
  • Try to lengthen and slow the breath down. See if you can pause after the inhalation. Then make the exhalation the same length.
  • Your tongue may taste bitter to begin with but that is just a sign of detoxification and if you keep up with Sitali Pranayama and other cleansing lifestyle practises, eventually the tongue will become sweet.
  • To continue with the practise daily, try 26 times in the morning and 26 times in the evening. Or if you can do 108 repetitions daily, this will activate a deep meditative state and the body’s powerful healing system.

To be visually guided through the technique, watch Gurmukh’s demonstration on  Enjoy and do please leave a comment about your experience of Sitali Pranayama.

Lorna Kerin
Lorna Kerin

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