Sheetali Pranayama – Instructions and Benefits
Sheetali Pranayama is can be referred to as yoga’s answer to a variety of health problems such as stress, heat, anger and irritation. Sheetal is a Sanskrit word meaning calmness and peacefulness. This results in human body from years of practicing cooling breath technique. Consistent practice of Sheetali Pranayama cools and harmonizes energies within.
How to Practice Sheetali Pranayama:
Step 1: Sit up in a comfortable position. You may even practice this breathing exercise standing up or lying down. The instructions below are for if you are sitting.
Step 2: Elongate your spine upwards.
Step 3: Lengthen your neck and subtly bring your chin back and in like a soldier at attention.
Step 4: Align the spine with the back of your head.
Step 5: Close your eyes and place your hands on your knees.
Step 6: Curl the sides of your tongue up and create a tunnel.
Step 7: Now slowly breathe in through your mouth.
Step 8: Allow the air to pass over your tongue. This should create a cooling sensation.
Step 9: After you inhale, bring the tongue back in and exhale through the nose.
Step 10: Now again stick the curled tongue out and repeat.
Step 11: Complete about 10 repetitions.
Remember that one breath cycle of inhalation and exhalation makes 1 repetition. However, don’t over stress or exert yourself with these exercises.
The Benefits of Sheetali Pranayama:
- Cools the mental, physical and emotional systems.
- Reduces internal heat.
- Reduces stress.
- The pranayama creates a sense of tranquility and peace within.
- Reduces anger.
- Reduces irritation.
- Promotes a sense of calmness.
- Reduces fever.
- Combats other Pitta related disturbances such as burning eyes, acidity, heat rash etc.
- Stimulates and assists in digestion.
- Helps combat restlessness.
- Aids in inducing sleep.
Precautions with Sheetali Pranayama:
There are not many precautions you need to take while practicing Sheetali Pranayama. Since it’s a cooling breath, it will increase Kapha (mucus). Hence you must avoid practicing it if you have cold and respiratory related issues. Also avoid overdoing this exercise during winters. You must avoid exacerbating Kapha and terribly cooling the system. Keeping these precautions in mind and performing pranayama in the right manner will give you results. Gradually, focus on increasing the number of repetitions from 10 up to 50 for added benefits in the future.