Sitali Pranayam

Imagine a dog playing on a lawn, back and forth he brings a ball, he chases it again and again. Its heart happily pumping, its body temperature increasing until out falls its tongue and the panting starts. This is nature's air conditioning system.

A lot of animals, particularly carnivores have to breathe through their mouths to cool their core temperature. They can't perspire like humans, so they pant. This increases saliva when the tongue is stretched.


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Sitali Kriya Yoga

The inward air picks up even more moisture from the environment and then gets cooled as it passes through the mouth. Subsequently, the blood gets cooled before it reaches the brain.

Sitali, meaning cool breath, is a Yoga breathing method that lowers the fire energy principle called pitta that is associated with catabolic processes in the body. Yogis likely have to thank animals for this one. Try it yourself to be the judge.

Sitali for students

One Yoga student reports that he combines Sitali with drinking lots of water at room temperature when he does outdoor work in summer. He said that his futile attempts to fight these effects by alternating heavy physical activity with large numbers of iced tea only increased these effects. After making the decision to adopt a more Yogic approach he found that he finds himself cool, more energized and ready to go again."

Many of Yoga students use the technique to control hot flashes, too. One man taught many of his co-workers this style of breathing. It has been a great gift in their high energy, fast-paced factory environment since it helps them get back their composure as and when needed. Sitali starts to cool the body's core temperature within around 5 minutes.

Sitali also cools your mind while it activates the parasympathetic nervous system that is your gateway to serenity and relaxation.

In today's Western culture, comforts often tend to increase discomforts. Going from a steamy and hot setting into an extremely dry and cold air conditioned car or room can be terribly traumatic for our systems. When cooled, the body quivers as it tries to heat back up. It might even try to insulate itself by generating more mucus. Under stress, digestion decelerates, breathing becomes shallow and labored and the chemical balance inside our body changes. This makes it almost impossible for us to feel at calm and at peace. Though this is only one of many applications of Yoga, using Sitali could be compared to riding a runaway train. You can sit rigid in your seat watching the world go by out of your control or you can try to take control. Jump onto the conductor's seat and look what happens. In today's high tech world, Sitali sounds like a welcome retreat.

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