Do you get irritated by the summer heat?
Do you sometimes feel flushed with anger?
Are you plagued by hot flashes?
Maybe it's time to practice this cooling pranayama that can soothe you in the time it takes to drink a glass of water.
In sitali pranayama (the cooling breath) the inhalation is moistened as it passes through the curl of the tongue. Sitali cools the body, adds moisture to the system, and soothes a pitta imbalance. Besides building breath awareness, this practice is also said to calm hunger and thirst. Sitali cools the body, adds moisture to the system, and, in the parlance of ayurveda, soothes a pitta imbalance, which is common in the summer months. It can also be used to reduce fatigue.
If you are unable to curl your tongue (it’s a genetic thing!) you can always practice sitkari where you breath in through your mouth with teeth gently pressed together, breathing out through the nose as with sitali breath.
Cautions for Sitali and Sitkari:
Because sitali and sitkari reduce body temperature, they are best practiced during hot weather or after a vigorous asana or heating pranayama practice. If you have a vata or kapha constitution, sitali and sitkari may not be appropriate during wintertime. No matter when you practice, be sure to take in air that is close to body temperature, since the breath won’t be warmed by the nostrils—if the air is cold, it may aggravate the lungs.