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Yoga Cooling Breath, Shitali Pranayama

Updated on February 28, 2014
Cooling breath or shitali pranayama is an effective way to cool the body.
Cooling breath or shitali pranayama is an effective way to cool the body. | Source

The practice of pranayama or yoga breathing techniques has many benefits and can be used for various purposes to keep the body in optimum condition. Some of the breathing techniques can be done when the body gets overheated or to make it warm on cold days.

One such pranayama technique is the Shitali Pranayama or Cooling Breath which is an effective way to cool the body and calm the mind while expelling toxins from the system. When the body becomes overheated, such as during a fever or hot weather, the Cooling Breath is useful in helping to restore normal body temperature and promote comfort.

It can be included in the practice of pranayama during the summer to keep the body cool.

Did you know you could cool down your body with a breathing technique?

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Benefits of Shitali Pranayama or Cooling Breath

Like all the other different yoga breathing techniques the Cooling breath too has many benefits:

  • cools the body
  • relieves a variety of stomach and lower abdominal ailments.
  • calms the mind
  • removes fever
  • stills hunger
  • quenches thirst
  • alleviates diseases of the spleen
  • expels toxins from the body

How to do Shitali Pranayama or Yoga Cooling Breath

Shitali Pranayama or Yoga Cooling Breath is a simple technique and can be practiced any time you are feeling overheated:

  • sit upright, with the crown of your head uppermost. (you can do this standing or in a semi-reclining position)
  • close the eyes or keep them open
  • relax the jaw
  • breathe regularly
  • relax your whole body
  • Curl your tongue lengthwise and let its tip protrude from your mouth.
  • Inhale slowly, smoothly, fully through this 'tube'.
  • Pull your tongue and close your mouth. Exhale slowly through the nose.
  • Repeat 10-15 times.

Variation: If you cannot curl your tongue then you can pucker your mouth, leaving just a small space for the air to pass through. Inhale through the mouth and exhale through the nose.

How to do Cooling Breath with Breath Count

This pranayama technique can also be done by counting throughout the the breath cycle:

  • sit or stand upright with your spine extended comfortably
  • curl the sides of your tongue as above
  • Inhale for a count of 7 or according to what is comfortable for you
  • Withdraw the tongue, close your mouth, and hold your breath for a count of 7
  • exhale through your nose for a count of 7.
  • repeat 5-6 times

This second variation is similar to the Equal Ratio Breathing or Sama Vritti Pranayama.

There are many other simple breathing techniques one can make part of the yoga practice such as:

Practicing pranayama should be done after having practice yoga asanas or poses for some weeks. However, there are some breathing techniques that can be done right from the start. It is a good idea to include it in the yoga practice routine for overall well-being. It helps to reduce stress as well.

Maintaining a pranayama journal is also recommended because then you can chart your progress and the effect it is having on your health and well-being. Practicing pranayama also affects the emotions and calms the mind, keeping a journal will help you better your practice.

To learn more about the pranayama and yoga breathing techniques and the philosophy behind it see the following articles.

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