The summer heat can be so thick, steamy and stifling sometimes that just a few minutes outdoors can make breathing feel like too much of a tiring activity. The good news – the traditional yoga practice of pranayama has gifted us with a breathing technique that essentially makes you your very own walking A/C unit. The word “sheetali” means cooling in Sanskrit, it is taken from the original word “Sheetal” which is soothing or cold. The pranayama practice of sheetali breathing calms the mind, reduces stress and helps cool the body and mind.
The purpose of Sheetali breathing not only helps calm stress and relax the body but is mainly used to cool down our body temperature. The ancient text of Hatha Yoga, Pradipika, states that this pranayama removes excess heat accumulated in the body and all our our organs. It can reduce excess bile and helps to reduce fevers. Sheetali breathing can keep our organs from ‘overworking’ in the heat thus keeping you internally and externally cool. It also has a calming effect on the nervous system, especially as it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which induces muscular relaxation and is very effective in stress management.
In this pranayama the tongue is rolled in a specific manner as shown in figure. But many people can not roll their tongue in this fashion. If rolling your tongue is not accessible try pressing your teeth together leaving no gap between your jaw open your mouth and breath through your teeth while keeping your jaw sealed. You’ll feel a cool air stream through your teeth.
Sheetali (Cooling Breath)
Begin in a comfortable seated position and give yourself a minute to relax your whole body. Release any tension in your neck, spine, legs, etc. Really allow your body to release feeling completely relaxed.
Start by rolling your tongue and inhale through your mouth feeling the cool air enter your mouth within your tongue. Inhale for 4 seconds. Exhale through your nose for 6 seconds, make sure your exhales are a little bit longer than your inhales. Repeat and practice for about 5 minutes.
Source: Yoga Point