Pranayama – Sitali – Cooling Breath

Good morning Yogis! We are taking a short break from our regularly scheduled breakdown of the poses in our Sun Salutations Asana Series, to celebrate the Summer Solstice! Since it is likely very warm today and will stay warm for the next few months, we will kick off the first day of summer with Sitali (Sih-TA-lee) which literally translates from Sanskrit as cooling or soothing, a cooling Pranayama / Breath exercise.

Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is trying out a cooling breath Pranayama Practice. We recommend trying this after drinking water so your mouth is moist, and as a stand-alone technique when you need to cool down!

Sitali Pranayama – Cooling Breath

Start with Diaphragmatic Breathing for 10 full inhales and exhales.

Next, open your mouth into a small o. Stick out your tongue a bit more than half way, and roll your tongue. Picture either an unfurling leaf, which helped inspire sages to develop this breathing technique, or a hard taco shell, which is probably a more familiar and descriptive image.

Breathe in deeply through your MOUTH, drawing the air over your tongue almost like you were using a straw.

Close your mouth and put your tongue flat on the roof of your mouth, and breathe OUT through your NOSE keeping your mouth closed.

Form an o with your mouth at the end of your exhale, and curl your tongue outside your mouth again for your next INHALE. Continue this for 10-20 full breaths.

If you want to continue, keep your mouth closed to return to diaphragmatic breathing for 10 full breaths before repeating. You may continue this cooling breath exercise for 10-15 minutes. I recommend doing Pranayama on its own whenever you need to cool down, or after a vigorous Asana practice. I would not recommend practicing this particular breathing technique during or before Asanas or other exercise.

Make sure to drink plenty of water before and after this cooling breath. Cooling breath can leave you with an especially dry mouth if you are not hydrated.

Please comment and let me know what you thought of this Sitali Pranayama exercise! Have you ever tried this or another cooling breath? Always remember, be kind!

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7 thoughts on “Pranayama – Sitali – Cooling Breath

  1. I had never tried (or heard of) any type of cooling breath before, so this was something completely new to me. I haven’t hydrated nearly enough today so it did leave me with a dry mouth, but besides that I do feel calmer and slightly cooler!

  2. I have done a few breath exercises and was surprised I had never herd of cooling breath. I took time this afternoon to do this exercise and now feel refreshed.

  3. Breathing in through the mouth and out through the nose is a change! I did this after my practice today, which wasn’t particularly vigorous but this breathing still made me feel relaxed and refreshed!

    1. Yes, it certainly takes concentration to “reverse” your breath.. The cooling effect is from the air flowing over the tongue, kind of how dogs cool off!

  4. I’m going to continue practicing this cooling breath, its especially beneficial to someone like me who experiences heat intolerance! I did struggle with the coordination of this breath a bit, but I’m still working on all of my breath coordination! Thanks for this exercise!

    1. Pretty cool right, it’s like having your own little air conditioner in your mouth. I just wish it was a bit less odd looking, so I could do in public inconspicuously.

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