Tim Feldmann, Director of Miami Life Center and authorized Ashtanga Yoga instructor, shares the techniques behind Sitali—the cooling breath of Summer.
If you find yourself melting in the summer heat, try this ancient yogic breathing technique to lessen the sweltering effect of the weather and get the added benefit of relaxing your mind.
It is inevitable that we overheat sometimes when the sun rises and the seasons change. It is equally inevitable that daily life raises our emotional heat from time to time. It is at these times that we need a go-to technique to resettle our bodies and minds into a state of comfort and clarity. Sitali Pranayama, translated as “cooling flow”, was developed by the ancient Indian Rishis and has been used by yogis for centuries.
If you’re overheated, try this:
Find a comfortable place and sit in a comfortable position where your spine is straight, preferably not leaning against a wall.
Close your eyes and begin with a few deep breaths to increase your focus on your body and breath. Then open your mouth and stick your tongue out.
Try forming a U-shape with your tongue, curling the tongue like a taco lengthwise (or if this doesn’t work for you, there is no
technique that will make it work. It’s a genetic ability so if the tongue doesn’t curl then just lightly stick your tongue out and keep it relaxed and flat on your lower lip).
Moisten your tongue and begin to inhale slow and long feeling the air cooling the whole surface of your tongue.
Allow your ribcage and lungs to fill up and rise fully. Repeat on the exhale, empty out your lungs and let the rib cage slowly return to its relaxed position.
Repeat this series of inhalation and exhalation with the Sitali tongue position for about 3-5 minutes.
Then, return to your normal breath while closing your eyes, perhaps lying down on your back for a minute or two.
As you get familiar with this practice you can increase the time slowly until you reach all the way up to 10 minutes or whenever you feel nicely cool and mentally calm.