Sheetali Pranayama or the cooling breath is usually done after practicing other asanas and pranayamas. Sheetali Pranayama cools the body. Sheetali in sanskrit means ‘cooling’. Sheetali pranayama is mentioned in the yoga texts Hatha Yoga Pradeepika and Gheranda Samhita.
Sheetali involves folding of the tongue to form a tube like shape. Some people may find it difficult to fold their tongue. They can do an alternate practice call Sheetkari Pranayama, which gives similar benefits.
Avoid doing Sheetali pranayama if you are suffering from a cold as it is counter productive. But if you are in a hot environment, it is ideal for cooling the body.
How to do Sheetali Pranayama (The Cooling Breath)?
- Sit in a comfortable asana with palms on the knees.
- Roll the tongue from the sides so that it forms a narrow tube. The tongue is folded from both the sides and the edges almost meet at the center on the top.
- Breathe in slowly. First fill the abdomen, then the chest and finally the neck region. This is the complete yogic breath.
- Pull the tongue inside the mouth and close the mouth.
- Bend the neck forward to do the chin lock, also called the Jalandhara Bandha
- Hold the breath for some time, as much as you are comfortable
- Release Jalandhara Bandha and exhale slowly through the nose
- This is one round of Sheetali Pranayama. One can do as many rounds as you may feel comfortable.
Benefits of Sheetali Pranayama (the Cooling Breath)
- The action of pulling the air through the tongue creates a cooling effect on the body.
- Sheetali relaxes the body and the mind.
- According to Hatha Yoga Pradeepika, Sheetali can cure colic, enlarged speen, fever and disorders of the bile.
- Sheetali can also remove hunger and thirst.
- Gheranda Samhita describes Sheetali as the giver of Bliss. The text says that Sheetali removes indigestion, phlegm and bilious disorders.