Is the scorching summer heat bothering you? Are you flushed with anger and feel stressed out? Or is menopause irritating you with its hot flashes and mood swings? Fear not, as you can cure all these problems the natural way with a cooling pranayama session of Sheetali and Sheetkari Pranayama.

Long ago, Yogis observed and emulated the world around them in a valiant effort to master the body, breath, and mind. As they noticed the curve of a bird’s lower beak, the hiss of a cobra and the uncurling of a new green leaf, the practice of Sheetali Pranayama was born. It involves a technique of curling the tongue while inhaling air.

This pranayama technique cools the body, adds moisture to the system and alleviates pitta imbalance in the body. Popularly called as the cooling breadth, both the Sheetali and Sheetkari Pranayama leaves your mind and body feel calm, spacious and relaxed.

Sheetali Pranayama

Sheetal literally means cold or soothing and the basic purpose of this pranayama is to decrease or cool down the body temperature by inhaling moistened or water-saturated air. It is as if you are quenching your thirst by taking in the cool air. If water is unavailable around you and you want to quench your thirst instantly, a round of Sheetali Pranayama will help you a great deal.

And, that’s not all it also calms down the parasympathetic nervous system by activating a deep relaxation response to ward off stress or difficult situations. It has its origins in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the inhalation of air passes through the curl of the tongue.

How to Perform Sheetali Pranayama

Try it twice a day or during periods of stress as and when you need it. It is especially supportive when you are feeling drowsy in the morning, in the afternoon slump when you need more focus or in the evening as you unwind and relax from a hard day at work.

  • Sit in Padmasana or cross-legged position. Else, if you prefer a chair sit straight with your back, spine, and neck in an erect position
  • Slightly lower the chin, curl the tongue lengthwise like a pipe from both sides and form a straw-like projection in your mouth
  • Inhale gently through the straw formed by your curled tongue and slowly lift your chin towards the ceiling as you inhale, lifting only as far as your comfortable
  • Inhale gently and not forcefully with a hissing sound like “c..c..c” and feel the moist air as you take it in
  • At the end of inhalation with your chin raised, retract the tongue and close the mouth
  • Exhale slowly through the nostrils and lower your chin back to a neutral position as you do it
  • Repeat for 8-10 rounds

 Sheetkari Pranayama

A variation to the Sheetali Pranayama, this technique is for people who are unable to curl their tongues. This also has the same cooling effect as the Sheetali Pranayama along with additional perks of naturally supporting the endocrine system as well.

  • Sit in a comfortable and erect position
  • Gently press your lower and upper teeth together. Separate your lips as much as possible and expose your teeth to the air
  • Inhale deeply and gently through the teeth with a hissing sound
  • Feel the cool air wash over your tongue as you inhale and raise your chin towards the ceiling
  • At the end of inhalation, close your mouth and relax the tongue
  • Exhale through the nostrils without opening your mouth and feel the gush of coolness into your nervous system and mind
  • Repeat up to 20 times


Read more on health benefits of yoga 

Health Benefits of the Sheetali and Sheetkari Pranayama

According to Ayurveda, the body has 3 vital doshas – pitta, kapha, and vata. Both Sheetali and Sheetkari pranayama comes with immense benefits and the most important of all is balancing the pitta or heat and neutralizing the other two doshas.


1. Supports Mental Health

A recent study was published on the impact of Sheetali and Sheetkari Pranayama on brain health. It was revealed by these clinical trials that those who practiced this pranayama were calmer and quieter in a relaxed state of mind with less anxiety. Now, this translates to better focus, attention and cognitive health.


2. Beats the Heat

Get an instant and a natural cooling effect during tough climatic conditions. Especially in a tropical climate of India, this pranayama is the best way to dispel heat and keep your body in a relaxed state. It is also effective in other heat-inducing circumstances such as hot flashes.


3.Controls Blood Pressure

With mindful breathing practice and cooling breadth of this pranayama, bring down your systolic blood pressure. Along with healthy lifestyle choices of good eating and other exercises, you are sure to keep hypertension at bay


4. Promotes Optimal Digestion

Problems of acidity, ulcers and other digestive issues can be healed. Since it has a regulating effect on the enteric nervous system, it stimulates body functions to digest, move and eliminate the food


5. Effective for Fevers

According to Vedic texts, this pranayama is said to cure fevers, enlarged spleen, colic and disorders of the bile. It also has the power to satiate hunger and thirst


6. Purifies the System

It removes ama or toxins from the blood by balancing the pitta. It is also used as an effective treatment for diseases associated with the tongue, mouth, and throat as these parts of the body are used for inhaling and exhaling


7. Promotes Balance of Mind and Body

As with other types of Pranayama, it goes a step further by stimulating a cooling effect that fosters a sense of tranquillity within the body. In turn, this keeps the mind healthy. So, stay active and younger both physically and mentally by practicing this pranayama.


Contra-Indications of Sheetali and Sheetkari Pranayama

You can practice this pranayama at the time you are practicing other pranayamas. However, make sure to learn it from a trained Yoga master to be absolutely sure that you are doing it right. Also, keep in mind the following precautions before you get started:

  • Sheetali and Sheetkari should not be done if you are suffering from heart problems
  • Those who are suffering from low blood pressure should also exercise caution as this pranayama can bring it down further
  • If you have a cold, cough, asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory issues refrain from trying it
  • Avoid doing this pranayama during extremely cold days since cold air can aggravate your lungs
  • Also, if you have constipation, refrain from doing this pranayama as they cool down the area around the Swadishtana chakra and worsen it.

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