Cool Down with Shitali Pranayama

The word Sheetali  roughly translates from Sanskrit to English as “cooling down, or the process of cooling down.” Shitali, which stems from the word Sheetali, means “cold or soothing.” Therefore, it makes sense that this breathing technique cools the body.

According to Sarvyoga.com, cooling the body can provide many benefits. Some benefits include:  improved function of the nervous system and endocrine glands and increased ability to control thirst and hunger. Some even believe that it may restore youthfulness and make you more charming.

Benefits of Shitali Pranayama

BanyanBotanicals.com also claims that Shitali pranayama:

  • “Balances excess pitta
  • Cools the body and clears excess heat
  • Kindles the digestive fire and promotes optimal digestion
  • Mitigates hyper acidity in the digestive tract
  • Soothes inflammatory skin conditions
  • Helps to calm inflammation throughout the body
  • Calms and soothes the mind, supporting mental tranquility
  • Bolsters the flow of prana throughout the body
  • Fosters a sense of satisfaction
  • Reduces fever
  • Soothes colicky pain
  • Enhances immunity
  • Alleviates excess hunger
  • Quells excess thirst
  • Reduces blood pressure”

Some other benefits of pranayama practice include its ability to help:

  • reduce anxiety,
  • encourage relaxation,
  • get rid of insomnia,
  • oxygenate your blood,
  • reduce stress,
  • promote clear thinking,
  • reduce anger, and
  • lower your blood pressure.

These benefits are similar to those that you would receive from any other breathing practice. While there is no scientific evidence supporting the benefits of this particular breathing technique, it has been proven that deep breathing techniques are beneficial to your health.

Cautions

Although breathing practice can be beneficial to your health, it can also be harmful to you under certain conditions. For example, you should not practice Shitali pranayama if you have low blood pressure or if you have respiratory issues such as Asthma or a cold.

Basic Shitali Pranayama

  1. Sit comfortably with your legs crossed. Siddhasana or Sukhasana are good choices.
  2. Place the backs of your hands on your knees. Make sure your palms are facing up.
  3. Shitali breathing techniqueStick your tongue all the way out and roll in the sides to make a straw or tube. Yes, you’re just rolling your tongue.
  4. Take a deep inhale through your tongue straw.
  5. After you finish inhaling, bring your tongue back in your mouth and close it.
  6. Exhale through both nostrils.
  7. Repeat this 8-10 times.

Shitali Pranayama with the Throat Lock

  1. Sit comfortably with your legs crossed. Siddhasana or Sukhasana are good choices.
  2. Place the backs of your hands on your knees. Make sure your palms are facing up.
  3. Stick your tongue all the way out and roll in the sides to make a straw or tube. Yes, you’re just rolling your tongue.
  4. Take a deep inhale through your tongue straw.
  5. After you finish inhaling, bring your tongue back in your mouth and close it. Lower your chin to your chest, engaging the Jalandhara Bandha. Keep your head in this position as you hold your breath for 6-8 seconds.
  6. When you are ready to exhale, lift your head to neutral position and exhale through your left nostril.
  7. Repeat this 5-6 times.
  8. When you are finished with this set, resume normal breathing.

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Do you have any other tips for practicing Shitali pranayama? Please let us know in the comments below.

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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