Cooling breath: Sitali Pranayam
Sitali Pranayan is an ancient breathing practice that has a cooling effect on the body.
It is recommended to practice whenever the body is over-heated due to external factors -such as a hot climate-, or internal factors -such as the hot flashes of menopause, anger and other heated emotions. It is also a wonderful breathing practice to do after an intense workout.
Traditionally this form of breath is used during the Summer months, when we tend to suffer an imbalance of the body toward dryness and heat.
The only difficulty about Sitali Pranayam is the curling of the tongue -see image-, which apparently is a genetic factor and either you can do it, or you can’t. There is, fortunately, the alternative of simply inhaling through puckered lips -as if drinking from a straw-.
Otherwise Sitali Pranayam is simple to practice, and the effects are amazing. This is, without a doubt, one of my favourite breathing exercises:
- Sit in a comfortable position, with the legs crossed on the ground or on a chair, with the spine straight.
- Curl the tongue as in the image above. Sometimes it helps to use your finger to push down the curled gap in the centre of the tongue.
- Your lips should be pressing firmly around the tongue
- Close your eyes
- Inhale though the mouth, feeling the coolness of the breath across your ribs
- Close your mouth and do a long, calm exhalation through the nose.
- Continue breathing like this, and notice how the breath becomes slower and longer, the body and that mind gently calming down…
Contraindications: pregnancy, throat and lung infections and when the body temperature is too low.