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Sheetali or (Cooling Breath)

The word "sheetali" means cooling in Sanskrit, it is taken from the original word "Sheetal" which is soothing or cold. The practice of sheetali breathing calms the mind, reduces the stress or fight - flight response. It cools the body and mind, The blood pressure is also lowered. This pranayama is very effective in hyperacidity or even ulcers.

The purpose of the Sheetali breathing is to reduce the body temperature, this may have positive effect on the endocrine glands and nervous system. In ancient text of Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Swami Swatmaram says that person becomes young and attractive by practicing this pranayama. Also he says that this pranayama removes excess heat accumulated in the system, reduces the excess biles, corrects the disorders of spleen, works on fever. This pranayama gives control over hunger and thirst. It has a calming effect on entire nervous system, especially it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which induces muscular relaxation and is very effective in stress management. If you are stressed then 10 minutes of Sheetali breath can calm you. So this pranayama is very effective for relaxation of body and mind.

In this pranayama the tongue is rolled in a specific manner as shown in figure. But many people can not roll their tongue in this fashion. For these people alternate Sitkari Pranayama gives very similar effects.

Practice - Note (Practice of Sheetali breathing should be done with a Yoga Expert Only)

  • Beginners can start with deep breathing practice in sitting position (Padmasana - Lotus, Swastikasana- Auspicious, Vajrasana - Thunderbolt, Any Cross legged position in which the body can be relaxed and spine is erect.
  • Then start inhaling through mouth by rolling the tongue, make sure that the air passing in is cooled via tongue.
  • Initially 4 seconds inhale through mouth while rolling the tongue and exhale for 6 seconds through both nostrils, this can be practiced for about 5 minutes.
  • With practice one can increase the counts to 4:8, or 5:10 or 6:12 seconds

Precautions -

  • If you have Low Blood pressure then this pranayama can bring it further down. So you must be careful.
  • You may feel little cold or tingling sensation in the throat due to cold air but this is normal.
  • Under No circumstances the proportion of the breathing should be forced.
  • If you feel dizzy then please stop the practice and continue normal breathing.

Rishi Dharmachandra

References -

  • Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha - Swami Satyananda Saraswati (Bihar School of Yoga, Munger)
  • Prana Pranayama Prana Vidya - Swami Niranjananda Saraswati (Bihar School of Yoga, Munger)
  • Pranayama - Yogacharya Vishwas Mandlik (Rishi Dharmajyoti), Yoga Vidya Gurukul, Nasik.
  • Pranayama - Swami Kuvalayananda (Kaivalyadham, Mumbai)