Deep in the Himalayas, ancient sages observed and imitated the world around them in the noble attempt to master body, breath, and mind. They noticed the curve of a bird’s lower beak, a new green leaf uncurling, and the hiss of a cobra—and emulated those shapes and sounds in a practice called sitali (the cooling breath). In this pranayama, 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.
Sitali cools the body, adds moisture to the system, and soothes a pitta imbalance(common in the summer). Besides building breath awareness, this practice is said to calm hunger and thirst and cultivate a love for solitude. In addition, this practice reduces fatigue, bad breath, fevers, and high blood pressure. Continue reading