Pranayama Technique: How to properly perform Sheetali Pranayama (The Cooling Breath)

Pranayama Technique: How to properly perform Sheetali Pranayama (The Cooling Breath)

Hello my dear ones, in Sanskrit, the word sheetali is derived from the root sheet which means 'cold'. Sheetal implies 'that which is passionless, calm and soothing'.

Practice

Sit in a relaxed meditation posture with your hands in Jnana mudra on the knees.

Close your eyes and relax the entire body.

Extend your tongue outside the mouth as far as possible without any strain.

Roll the sides of your tongue up such that it forms a tube.

Breathe in and draw the breath in through this tube.

At the end of inhalation, you should draw your tongue in, close your mouth and then, breathe out through the nose.

Practice yogic breathing throughout.

Your breath should create a sound identical to rushing wind.

An experience of icy coldness will be felt on the tongue as well as the roof of the mouth.

This completes one round.

Practice 10 rounds.

Duration

Progressively increment the number of rounds from 9 to15 and the duration of each inhalation/exhalation. For general purposes, a set of 15 rounds is quite adequate; nonetheless, up to 60 rounds may be performed in very hot weather.

Awareness

On your tongue as well as the cooling sensation of your breath.

Sequence

Best when performed after asanas and other yogic practices which heat the body in order to reestablish temperature balance.

Precaution

This particular technique should not be performed during cold weather or in a dirty polluted atmosphere. The nose normally heats up and cleanses the inhaled air prior to its entry into it the delicate lungs. Nevertheless, by breathing through the mouth, one completely bypasses this air-conditioning mechanism and thus, the induction of cold or dirty air directly into the lungs may cause harm.

Contra-indications

Individuals who suffer from low blood pressure or respiratory disorders such as bronchitis, asthma and excessive mucus should not execute this pranayama. Those with heart disease or any other heart related ailments can safely practice without kumbhaka or breath retention.

This practice actively acts as it cools down the activity of the lower energy centers; accordingly, those individuals who suffer from chronic constipation should avoid it. Typically, it is not advised to perform this pranayama in cool climates or in winter.

Benefits

Sheetali, the 'Cooling Breath', is quite powerful for releasing excess heat—particularly useful during the pitta time of day, between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm, when the sun is highest in the sky and the heat is notably at its maximum. Just a couple of minutes of this refreshing pranayama can greatly assist doshic harmony. This practice cools the body as well as the mind. It positively influences important brain centers linked with biological drives and temperature regulation. It cools and minimizes emotional and mental excitation, and promotes the free flow of prana throughout the body. It leads to muscular relaxation, mental tranquility and may be utilized as a tranquilizer before sleep. It gives one greater control over thirst and hunger, and generates a feeling of satisfaction. It also aids in reducing blood pressure and acid stomach.

Advanced practice

Sheetali pranayama may also be combined with jalandhara bandha on internal breath retention. You should not strain when performing kumbhaka, one or two seconds is quite sufficient in the beginning. The duration may be incremented progressively as the technique is mastered.

Practice note

As a matter of fact, about one third of the global human population possesses a genetic inability to roll the sides of the tongue into a tube. Thus, in this case, the practice of seetkari pranayama can instead be adopted since it also provides comparable benefits.

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