Yoga Challenge – Pranayama: Sitali (Cooling Breath)

Happy Day 20 of our 30 Day Yoga Challenge – Sitali Pranayama

Good morning Yogis! We are taking a short break from our breakdown of the poses in our Sun Salutations Asana Series. Our first challenge was in June, so we stopped to celebrate the Summer Solstice! Since it is very warm in the US in June, we kicked off the first day of summer with Sitali (Sih-TA-lee) which literally translates from Sanskrit as cooling or soothing, a cooling Pranayama (Breathing) exercise. Today may not be the summer solstice, but we are pausing our Sun Salutations breakdown for all Yogis to recognize the start of a new monthly Zodiac Season and have a special Asana or Pranayama practice inspired by the new Celestial Sign we have entered. Check out today’s post here!

Today’s Positive Practice suggestion

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! Even if you do not need to cool down today, this is a particularly effective breathwork technique. I want to share for beginner Yogis to try to experience the power of Pranayama!

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.

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Share your Practice

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!

6 thoughts on “Yoga Challenge – 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!

  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!

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