Sitali Pranayama is a cooling breath that involves inhaling the breath through the curl of the tongue. We breathe as if “drinking” in moisture-rich air, which cools us down – physically and emotionally.
This practice is said to cool the body, add moisture to the system, and in the wisdom of Ayurveda, soothe a pitta imbalance. This practice also reduces fatigue, bad breath, fevers, and high blood pressure.
Breath: Curl the tongue into a "U," and stick it just outside of the lips. Inhale deeply through the rolled tongue, exhale through the nose.
Continue for 3 minutes. Alternatively, you can practice this 26 times in the morning and 26 times in the evening. Or, 108 repetitions is a deep meditation and a powerful tonic for the body and digestive system.
In yoga, we typically breathe through the nose because this warms the breath and creates a healing heat. That heat, which we call tapas, warms the body and cultivates the internal fire necessary for transformation. But there are times when we overheat.
When you start to feel the symptoms – heart racing, body temperature increasing beyond comfort – change your breath. Breathe through the lips instead of the nostrils.
In the case of Sitali, inhale through the curled tongue and make the breath slow and deep. As you sip air through the curled tongue, you may notice the temperature of the breath as it passes over the saliva in your mouth. It is cooling.
Sitali Pranayama is especially helpful when we are overwhelmed with anger, on the verge of losing control. In this case, practice for 3 minutes exactly, and then drink a glass of cold water. See how you feel. You may notice a shift in your nervous system from frustration to non-frustration.
© 3HO. This kriya is courtesy of YB Teachings, LLC.