To remain calm and cool, even during the hottest days of summer or the most stressful times of life, Sitali (pronounced Sit uh lee) Pranayama is a breathing practice that is well worth learning and incorporating into your life.
Sitali (go ahead, say it aloud once — Sit Uh Lee) is known not only as a cooling breath, but a moistening, rejuvenating, and youth enhancing breath as well.
To begin, sit comfortably on the floor or on a chair with a straight spine. Make a U with your tongue by sticking the tongue out a bit and curling the tongue creating a cylindrical shape.
Begin inhaling slowly through the curled and extended tongue and exhaling through the nose. Long, slow, calm, cooling breaths — bringing moisture to the body to restore balance.
Continuing for at least 3 minutes, aim to take 26 long slow Sitali Breaths, even if 26 breaths takes you 11 minutes or so.
Sitali Pranayama is said to reduce fevers, enhance patience and reduce stress levels, bring relief to a sore throat, cool stomach fire and indigestion, and calm and cool an overactive or overheated spleen.
According to Ayurveda, in the Northern Hemisphere from June 1st to September 30th the Pitta Dosha dominates. Pitta Dosha has the qualities of being fiery, overheated, easily excitable, dynamic, hard working, and tenacious.
Spicy foods like onions, garlic, peppers and chilies will come into season soon and for those whose dominant dosha is the Pitta dosha, these foods are best eaten in moderation and then only if well tolerated. Pitta types often fare better, especially in the summer, by minimizing or eliminating chocolates, tomatoes, coffee, and black tea. Green tea is often the best caffeinated beverage for those with too much fire in the belly or with overactive minds.
Should you find yourself overdoing it this summer — getting overheated from the sun and forgetting to slow down on these high energy days, remember that you have now stashed Sitali Pranayama in your imaginary toolbox and this technique will be there for you anytime, anywhere.
Oh, and if you think you look a little silly breathing in public with your tongue curled out, all the more reason to make Sitali Pranayama part of your morning routine before heading out the door. A few minutes of this calming cooling breathing practice can go a long way in helping you remain composed. Best part of all — it’s free — it is said to keep us young — it soothes the liver — and it feels fantastic!