There are two cooling pranayama practices that can soothe you in the time of heat & sweat. Of coure, you can eat a slice of watermelon or take a dip in the pool, but yoga can also help your body beat the summer heat (and your mind chill out) with these practices.
Sitali or Serpent Breath
In Sanskrit, the word sitali means “cooling,” and this breath has an immediate cooling effect. Inhaling into the moisture of your tongue makes your mouth — and whole body — feel a nice inner breeze. Sitali cools the body, adds moisture to the system, and soothes a pitta imbalance.
Besides building breath awareness, this practice is said to calm hunger and thirst and cultivate a love for solitude. Sitali also cools the body, adds moisture to the system, and, in the parlance of ayurveda, soothes a pitta imbalance, which is common in the summer months. In addition, this practice reduces fatigue, bad breath, fevers, and high blood pressure.
How To Practice Sitali
- Sit in a comfortable position with the head, neck, and spine in alignment..
- Close your eyes, breathe diaphragmatically 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.
Sitkari or Teeth Hissing
- Sit comfortably with your eyes closed..
- 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. This practice is called sitkari.
As sitali and sitkari reduce body temperature, they may not be appropriate during wintertime.