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Sitali – The Cooling Breath

November 2, 2011

When we practice the kriyas such as Kapalabhati and Bhastrika, it becomes important to also practice Sitali, the cooling breath. In the former practices the body is heated and so we need to balance that through the cooling effect of Sitali. This is necessary in the summer period. In winter, however,  Sitali is optional as it is desirable to warm the body with kapalabhati etc.

http://wellnesscatalyst.wordpress.comSitali is also useful for people who suffer from Pitta conditions, i.e. they suffer from some ailment in which there is too much heat in the body. If you do not have sufficient knowledge of Ayurveda to ascertain whether you have an imbalance of Pitta, then you should consult a Yoga Therapy Teacher or anyone who has some basic training in Ayurveda.

Sitali is usually practiced after Kapalabhati or Bhastrika. Exhale using the Ujjayi breath. Whilst exhaling, lift the tongue slightly as to release saliva. Let the saliva rest on your tongue. Curl your tongue into a tube and stick the tube-tongue out of your mouth and breathe in through the tongue. There should be a slurping sound. At the end of the inhalation relax the tongue. Repeat this twelve times.

If you cannot curl your tongue, then practice Sitkari. Exhale as described above. Instead of curling the tongue, keep it flat and place the tip of the tongue against the back of your teeth. The bottom and top teeth are together, (but not a biting action, keep the jaws relaxed). Inhale through the teeth. Also, there should be a slurping sound.

In both practices ensure that you are still breathing deeply into the abdomen as per ususal Yoga breathing.

This little pranayama should not be ignored as a balanced practice of Yoga is essential for harmonious spiritual development.


Written by: Swami Vidyananda

Resident Monk at Ananda Kutir Ashrama.


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