How to Practice Sitali Breath
August is like the Sunday of Summer.
Happy Summer! - Kayaking at Sunset in Northern Michigan.
Hello and happy summer! After the winter that we had here in the Midwest, no complaining allowed on these 90 degree days! However, what can we do to cool down? Here's a yogic breath that will help as well as a lovely chilled soup recipe. Enjoy.
Are you irritated by the summer heat? Flushed with anger? Plagued by hot flashes?
Long ago, the yogis discovered a cooling breath practice that can soothe you in the time it takes to drink a glass of water. In this breath, the inhalation is moistened as it passes through the curl of the tongue (alternately described as a bird's beak and an uncurling leaf) so that you are "drinking" water-saturated air. This practice, called Sitali, cools the body, adds moisture to the system, and soothes a physical imbalance. Besides building breath awareness, this practice is said to calm hunger and thirst and cultivate a love for solitude. Sitali also cools the body, adds moisture to the system, and, in the parlance of Ayurveda, soothes a pitta imbalance, which is common in the summer months. In addition, this practice reduces fatigue, bad breath, fevers and high blood pressure.
How to Practice Sitali
Sit in a comfortable position with the head, neck, and spine in alignment.
Close your eyes, breathe diaphragmatically for several minutes, then open the mouth and form the lips into an "O."
Curl the tongue lengthwise and project it out of the mouth (about 3/4 of an inch).
Inhale deeply across the tongue and into the mouth as if drinking through a straw.
Focus your attention on the cooling sensation of the breath as the abdomen and lower ribs expand.
Withdraw the tongue and close the mouth, exhaling completely through the nostrils.
Continue doing Sitali for 2 - 3 minutes, return to diaphragmatic breathing for several more and repeat the cooling breath for 2 - 3 minutes longer. Gradually you can work your way up to a 10-minute practice. Can't Curl Your Tongue? Try Sitkari
Sit comfortably with your eyes closed.
Gently press your lower and upper teeth together and separate your lips as much as you comfortably can, so your teeth are exposed to the air.
Inhale slowly through the gaps in the teeth and focus on the hissing sound of the breath.
Close the mouth and slowly exhale through the nose.
Repeat up to 20 times. This practice is called Sitkari. According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, in addition to its cooling effects, Sitkari balances the endocrine system and builds vitality. Cautions for Sitali and Sitkari Because Sitali and Sitkari reduce body temperature, they are best practiced during the hot weather or after a vigorous practice. No matter when you practice, be sure to take in the air that is close to body temperature since the breath won't be warmed by the nostrils - if the air is cold, it may aggravate the lungs. (from Yoga International)
What about eating? What food will help cool me down? Here's a fabulous recipe for Chilled Cantaloupe Soup. Try it!
Chilled Cantaloupe Soup
Ingredients 1 cantaloupe - peeled, seeded and cubed 2 cups orange juice 1 Tb fresh lime juice 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Directions 1. Peel, seed, and cube the cantaloupe. 2. Place cantaloupe and 1/2 cup orange juice in a blender or food processor; cover and process until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the lime juice, cinnamon, and remaining orange juice. Cover, and refrigerate for at least one hour. Garnish with mint if desired. Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 69 calories; 0.3 g fat; 16.4 g carbohydrates; 1.4 g protein; 0 mg cholesterol; 16 mg sodium.