Pranayama Ė Cooling Breath (Sheetali)  
by: Vasanthi Bhat with Jeanie Lawrence (vasanthi@vasanthayoga.com)

Itís summertime! This is the season we all look forward to, with its bright sunshine and long days of light that last well into the evening hours. Children get a break from school and families take their annual vacation to enjoy nature and visit friends and family. The focus shifts to outdoor activities and people may spend many hours each day outside. However, too much heat can make us feel uncomfortable and lethargic. We attempt to balance our temperature by wearing light clothing and drinking cool water, but sometimes this is not enough. The ancient yogis understood that our bodies contain the solutions to all our problems. They have also given us the knowledge of a technique that will activate the bodyís own natural air conditioning system. This technique is called Cooling Breath (Sheetali).

Practice

Sit or stand comfortably with your back straight. Open your mouth slightly and curl your tongue up on both sides to form a hollow tube. Breathe in slowly through the tube. Close your mouth and swallow your breath. Hold the breath for a few seconds or for as long as you are comfortable. Breathe out slowly through your nose. This is one round. Practice 3-5 rounds or as long as it takes to cool your system.

Benefits

On a hot summer day when you have been unable to cool down, whether you are at home or in nature, try a few rounds of Sheetali and see how your body cools itself from the inside out. As with all the asanas, there are many benefits of practicing the Cooling Breath. As it removes heat from the body, women will find relief from hot flashes that they may experience during middle age. Cooling Breath also purifies the blood and revitalizes every cell in the body, which is a positive benefit for everyone.

A special bonus of Cooling Breath is its application in the treatment of addictive habits. Due to the stress and tension of modern life, many individuals turn to drugs, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, and other addictive habits for solace. These addictions result in causing more pain than the pain they were used to avoid. The practice of Cooling Breath can be a great aid to reversing these habits.

Cooling Breath is just one of the many simple, but powerful, techniques taught by Vasanthi Bhat. By slowly and gently incorporating Vasantha Yoga, you will soon discover greater flexibility in your physical body and experience greater joy in your daily life.