Sitali Breath

Benefits:

  • Calms hunger and thirst
  • Cultivate a love for solitude
  • Cools the body
  • Adds moisture to the system
  • Soothes a pitta imbalance
  • Reduces fatigue, bad breath, fevers, and high blood pressure.

When to practice:

  • Because sitali and sitkari reduce body temperature, they are best practiced during hot weather or after a vigorous asana or heating pranayama practice.
  • When you feel overheated, aggravated, or frustrated

When to avoid:

  • If you have a vata or kapha constitution, sitali and sitkari may not be best practiced during wintertime.
  • Be sure to take in air that is close to body temperature, since the breath won’t be warmed by the nostrils—if the air is cold, it may aggravate the lungs.

How to perform:

  • Sit in a comfortable position with the head, neck, and spine in alignment
  • Take deep belly breaths for several minutes, then open the mouth and form the lips into an “O.”
  • Curl the tongue lengthwise and project it out of the mouth (about 3/4 of an inch).
  • Inhale deeply across the tongue and into the mouth as if drinking through a straw.
  • Focus your attention on the cooling sensation of the breath as the abdomen and lower ribs expand.
  • Withdraw the tongue and close the mouth, exhaling completely through the nostrils.
  • Continue doing sitali for 2 to 3 minutes, return to diaphragmatic breathing for several more, and repeat the cooling breath for 2 to 3 minutes longer. Gradually you can work your way up to a 10-minute practice.

If you can’t curl your tongue, then practice Sitkari

  • Sit in a comfortable position with the head, neck, and spine in alignment
  • Gently press your lower and upper teeth together and separate your lips as much as you comfortably can, so your teeth are exposed to the air.
  • Inhale slowly through the gaps in the teeth and focus on the hissing sound of the breath.
  • Close the mouth and slowly exhale through the nose.
  • Repeat up to 20 times.