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Cool Down this Summer with Sheetali Pranayama

By Arun Goel

Channeling the Life Force (Prana) is one of the most important practices in Yoga.

Pranayama (Control of Prana) utilizes the breath to channel the flow of energy in the body and create subtle alterations in the body systems - digestive, emotional, physiological and psychological.

Sheetali Pranayama (also called Cooling Breath) has a calming and cooling effect upon the body and mind. It is especially useful in summer when several people experience restlessness due to heat.  

  • Besides temperature regulation, this breathing technique reduces mental tension and emotional excitation.

  • It relaxes the muscles, purifies the blood and tones the liver and spleen.

  • It also helps in stemming acidity of the stomach and blood pressure.


How to do

First be seated comfortably in any of the meditative postures. Choose the seating posture that is most comfortable for you. Click here to see a range of meditative postures.

Once seated comfortably, rest your hands on the knees with the fingers in the Gyana Mudra. Mudras are gestures that start electromagnetic currents within the body and balance the various body elements.

In this seated position, keep the eyes gently closed and relax the whole body.

Now gently bring the tongue outside the mouth as far as possible WITHOUT feeling any tension or strain.

Roll up both the sides of the tongue, so that the tongue forms a tubular structure, like a straw. This is your base position.
 

Variation:

Some people may find it difficult to roll up the sides of their tongue. In such cases, keep the tongue flatly resting in the mouth. Then, touch the upper front teeth (incisors) with the lower front teeth and in this position part your lips and smile. This is your base position in case you have difficulty in the tubular tongue position as explained earlier.


From the base position, inhale from the mouth through the 'tubular' tongue. As the air flows over the moist tongue, it greatly reduces the temperature of the inhaled breath.

You should feel the coolness over your tongue and upper palate at every inhalation.
The inhalation should be deep WITHOUT strain on the lungs or diaphragm.
After inhalation, draw back the tongue, close your mouth and exhale through the NOSE.
This complete cycle of inhalation-exhalation forms one round.

Sound while inhaling

In the rolled tongue position, as you draw the breath in, the sound will be like that of rustling leaves. In the variation pose, the sound will be a hissing sound while inhalation.

Frequency

Begin by practicing 10 rounds and overtime increase both, the duration of each round as well as the total number of rounds. For general benefits, practice upto 15 rounds. However, for relief from symptoms created by hot weather, do upto 50 rounds.

Who should NOT do

If you suffer from respiratory conditions such as asthma, wheezing or bronchitis, please avoid this practice.
If your body type has a cold disposition characterized by excessive mucus secretion, this Pranayama should be avoided.
Chronic constipation sufferers should refrain from this practice.
Those with heart disease may do so but WITHOUT breath retention.

Unfavorable Conditions

As we are bypassing the filtering mechanism of the nose during inhalation, this practice should NOT be done in a polluted or dirty environment.

Also, it should not be practiced during cold weather conditions.

If for any reason, the above directions seem confusing, you can now download the video of Sheetali Pranayama at a nominal charge of $2 to cover our bandwidth costs. To download the video, Click here.

Enjoy your summer with the knowledge that you can always cool down when things get too hot to handle.

Related Pages


Techniques adapted from Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha by Swami Satyananda published by Yoga Publications Trust, Munger, Bihar.


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