Breathing techniques

Sheetali Pranayama (Cooling Breath) – शीतली प्राणायाम – For Control Over Thirst & Hunger

Sheetali Pranayama by Yasmeen

Sheetali Pranayama – Cooling Breath Yoga – शीतली प्राणायाम

The word “Sheetali” is derived from the word Sheetal, which means ‘that which is calm, cool and soothing’. The practice of Sheetali Pranayama (शीतली प्राणायाम – Sheetali Pranayama in Hindi) calms and cools the mind along with the body. It is also called cooling breath or Cooling Pranayama. This Pranayama has a positive impact on the nervous system and endocrine glands. A person becomes young and charming by practicing this breathing exercise as is mentioned in Hatha yoga Pradipika. A Person is able to control thirst and hunger with the daily practice of Sheetali Pranayama. This cooling breath breathing exercise can be used as a tranquilizer before sleep.

Sheetali Pranayama Steps

  • Spread a Yoga Mat and Sit in any comfortable meditation posture on it with palms on the knees.
  • Extend the tongue outside the mouth as far as possible and roll the tongue from the sides so that it forms a narrow tube.
  • Inhale a long and controlled breath through the rolled tongue.
  • First fill the abdomen, then the chest and finally fill the breath up to the neck.
  • Pull the tongue inside and close the mouth.
  • Exhale through the nose.
  • The time taken to exhale the breath should nearly be twice of inhalation.
  • While inhaling the breath should produce a sucking sound.
  • There will be a feeling of coldness on the tongue and roof of the mouth.
  • This is one round.
  • Practice 5 to 7 seven rounds.

Cooling Breath Techniques

Technique 2: with Antar Kumbhak (Internal Retention)

  • Follow the same procedure till inhalation as above.
  • At the end of inhalation, retain the breath inside for 7 to 8 seconds.
  • Then breathe out slowly.

Technique 3: With The Addition Of Bandhas

  • Follow the same procedure till inhalation as above.
  • At the end of inhalation, lower the chin to the chest (perform Jalandhara Bandha).
  • Hold the breath for 6 to 8 seconds.
  • Breathe out slowly with full control, taking nearly twice the time that the breath was held in Jalandhar Bandha.

Sheetali Pranayama Precautions

  • Do not practice Sheetali Pranayama in cold weather.
  • Do not practice Sheetali Pranayama in polluted weather.
  • Do not perform Antar Kumbhaka for a longer time as prolonged Kumbhaka has a heating effect.

Sheetali Pranayama Contraindications

  • People suffering from cold, cough, asthma, bronchitis and low blood pressure should not practice Sheetali Pranayama.
  • People suffering from heart ailments should avoid retention of the breath.
  • People suffering from chronic constipation should avoid this pranayama.

Sheetali Pranayama Benefits

  • Sheetali  Pranayama balances excess pitta.
  • It cools the body and clears excess heat from the system.
  • It mitigates hyperacidity in the digestive tract.
  • Sheetali Pranayama is very good for inflammatory skin conditions.
  • It helps calm inflammation throughout the body.
  • This Pranayama calms the mind thus supporting mental tranquility.
  • Sheetali Pranayama encourages the free flow of prana throughout the body.
  • The practice of Sheetali Pranayama alleviates excess hunger and quells excess thirst.
  • This Pranayama is very good for people suffering from high blood pressure.

Practice Note For Sheetali Pranayama

Sheetali requires an ability to roll the sides of the tongue to form a tube. Most of the people are genetically unable to roll sides. However,  an alternate variation of the cooling breath called the Sheetkari Pranayama gives similar benefits.

Sheetali Pranayama Sequence

Since Sheetali is cooling pranayama, it can be preceded by any kriya which generates heat like Bhastrika or Bhastra Ujjai. Meditation can be done after doing Sheetali as It cools and calms down the mind and body. The general course of breathing exercises for a Yoga Session can be done in the following order –

About the author

Mahendra Kumar Vyas

Mahendra Vyas, with parental home at Jodhpur and born to Late Shri Goverdhan Lal Vyas and Shrimati Sharda Vyas, did Civil Engineering from M.B.M.Engineering College, Jodhpur. Shifted to Mumbai after completing engineering and worked with Sanjay Narang's Mars Group and Aditya Birla Group. With an inclination to spirituality and service, joined the Yoga stream and became a part of Yoga Niketan, Goregaon (west) in 2002 and since then practicing and imparting Yoga knowledge at Yoga Niketan and different corporates.

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