Sheetali Pranayama (cooling breath) is one of the pranayamas mentioned in the book “Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha ” by Swami Satyanda Saraswati. This practice cools the body and affects important brain centres associated with biological drives and temperature regulation. Sheetali is derived from the root sheet, which means ‘cold’. Sheetal means ‘that which is calm, passionless and soothing’.
How To Do Sheetali Pranayama – Cooling Breath
- Sit in any comfortable meditation posture.
- Close the eyes and relax the whole body.
- Extend the tongue outside the mouth as far as possible without strain.
- Roll the sides of the tongue up so that it forms a tube. Practise a long, smooth and controlled inhalation through the rolled tongue.
- At the end of inhalation, draw the tongue in, close the mouth and exhale through the nose.
- Practise yogic breathing throughout. The breath should produce a sucking sound.
- A feeling of icy coldness will be experienced on the tongue and the roof of the mouth. This is one round.
Sequence while doing Sheetali Pranayama – Cooling breath
- Practise after asanas and other yogic practices which heat the body in order to restore temperature balance.
Technique 2: with Antar Kumbhaka (internal retention)
- At the end of inhalation, retain the breath inside for one or two seconds at first. The duration may be gradually increased as the technique is mastered.
Advanced practice: (addition of bandhas)
- Once jalandhara bandha is perfected, it may also be combined with this practice during internal retention.
- With practice, the duration of the inhalation should gradually become longer to increase the cooling effect. Gradually increase the number of rounds from 9 to 15. For general purposes 15 rounds is sufficient; however, up to 60 rounds may be performed in very hot weather.
Benefits of doing Sheetali Pranayama – Cooling breath
- This practice cools the body and affects important brain centres associated with biological drives and temperature regulation.
- It cools and reduces mental and emotional excitation, and encourages the free flow of prana throughout the body.
- It induces muscular relaxation, mental tranquillity and may be used as a tranquiliser before sleep.
- It gives control over hunger and thirst, and generates a feeling of satisfaction.
Precaution while doing Sheetali Pranayama – Cooling breath
- Do not practise in a polluted atmosphere or during cold weather. The nose heats up and cleans the inhaled air before it enters the delicate lungs. However, breathing through the mouth bypasses this air-conditioning and the induction of cold or dirty air directly into the lungs may cause harm.
- Practise inner retention for a short time only as prolonged kumbhaka has a heating effect.
- People suffering from low blood pressure or respiratory disorders such as asthma, bronchitis and excessive mucus, should not practise this pranayama. Those with heart disease should practise without breath retention.
- This practice cools down the activity of the lower energy centres and therefore those suffering from chronic constipation should avoid it. Generally, this pranayama should not be practised in winter or in cool climates.
- Natural breathing
- Abdominal breathing or diaphragmatic breathing
- Thoracic breathing
- Clavicular breathing
- Yogic breathing
Types of Pranayamas
- Nadi Shodhan Pranayama (Psychic network purification)
- Sheetali Pranayama (Cooling breath)
- Sheetkari Pranayama (Hissing breath)
- Bhramari Pranayama (Humming bee breath)
- Ujjayi Pranayama (The psychic breath)
- Bhastrika Pranayama (Bellows breath)
- Kapalbhati Pranayama (Frontal brain cleansing breath)
- Moorchha Pranayama (Swooning or fainting breath)
- Surya Bhedi Pranayama (Vitality stimulating breath)