Sheetali Pranayama Breathing Exercise for Stress & Anger Management

Posted in Ayurveda,Emotional Mastery,Yoga Pranayama by Anmol Mehta

Breathing Exercise for Reducing Stress 

Sheetali Pranayama: Hatha Yoga Breathing Exercise #6


Free Online Video of Sheetali Yoga Pranayama

(Video #5 of the Online Yoga Breathing Exercises Video Series)

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What is Sheetali Pranayama:

Sheetali Pranayama is Yoga’s answer to heat, stress, anger and irritation.  Sheetal means calmness and peacefulness and those are the results of practicing this cooling breath.  I recently undertook the practice of Sheetali Pranayama when an internal heat imbalance took place within my body and I am happy to report that the energies within have been cooled and equilibrium has been restored.

Sheetali Pranayama comes directly from the traditional schools of Hatha Yoga, but, it was also taught to me in my Kundalini Yoga training and is a widely used breathing technique to combat Ayurveda’s Pitta (Heat: see Introducing Ayurveda – Alternative Medicine for Self Healing) related issues.  Sheetali is another pranayama worth having in your repertoire and its simplicity makes it possible to do anywhere and an anytime.

Below are the details of Sheetali Pranayama.

Benefits of Sheetali Pranayama:

Primary benefits of Sheetali Pranayama:

  • Cools the mental, physical and emotional systems and reduces internal heat.
  • Reduces stress and creates a sense of tranquility and peace.
  • Reduces anger and irritation promoting calm.
  • Reduces fever.
  • Combats other Pitta related disturbances such as acidity, burning eyes, heat rash etc.

Secondary benefits of Sheetali Pranayama:

  • Stimulates and assists in digestion.
  • Helps combat restlessness and helps induce sleep.

Cautions for Sheetali Pranayama:

There are not many cautions for practicing Sheetali Pranayama.  Since it’s a cooling breath it will increase Kapha (mucus) so don’t practice it if you have cold and respiratory related issues.  Also, in winter don’t overdo it to avoid exacerbating Kapha and excessively cooling the system.

Instructions for Beginner’s Sheetali Pranayama:

To practice Sheetali pranayama sit up in a comfortable position, you are also practice this breathing exercise standing up or lying down.  The instructions below are for if you are sitting, but, for other positions only slight modifications should be needed.

  • Elongate your spine upwards, lengthen your neck and subtly bring your chin back and in like a soldier at attention.  This will align the spine with the back of your head.
  • Close your eyes and place your hands on your knees.
  • Now curl the sides of your tongue up to create a tunnel and slowly breathe in through your mouth allowing the air to pass over your tongue thus creating a cooling sensation.
  • After you inhale, bring the tongue back in and exhale through the nose.  Then again stick the curled tongue out and repeat.
  • Do 10 repetitions.  One breath cycle of inhalation and exhalation makes 1 repetition.

Instructions for Intermediate Sheetali Pranayama:

The only change for intermediate Sheetali Pranayama is to increase the number of repetitions from 10 up to 50.

Modification for Sheetali Pranayama:

The key to Sheetali Pranayama is the cooling of the air as it passes through the curled tongue, unfortunately, not everyone can curl their tongue in this manner.  If you fall into this category just curl the sides of you tongue up as far as possible and breathe in allowing the air to flow over the tongue to create the coolness as best as possible.

Secret of Sheetali Pranayama: 

According to Yoga lore, The Fonz (Fonzie from the TV show Happy Days) practiced Sheetali Pranayama in secret and it was the reason why he was so cool :-).




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24 Responses to “Sheetali Pranayama Breathing Exercise for Stress & Anger Management”

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  1. 24
    hitesh Says:

    hi subodh ji…
    all the three doshas (vata, pitta & kapha) can be balanced by anulom vilom pranayam.
    Anulom Vilom Pranayam is one of the
    best and easy breathing exercises for complete purification of body as well as mind.
    If practiced regularly with full devotion for 15
    –20 minuts per day, anulom vilom intensifies
    the inner strength of body and enhances the
    unknown powers of mind.

  2. 23
    Subodh Says:

    Hi,

    I am suffering from Kapha type allergies ( Mucus production ) and Vata/Pitta type Irritable bowel syndrome.
    From reading articles on the internet I found that there is no pranayam technique for balancing all the three doshas. Like Sheetali pranayam balances pitta but increase kapha sameway kapalabhati pranayam balances kapha but increases pitta. How can I balance all the three doshas. I haven’t practiced much pranayam so this is just the information I got from internet.

    can you suggest what pranayam I can do for both Allergies and Irritable bowel syndrome.

    I have tried both ayurvedic/homeopathic/allopathic medicines but none are able to completely cure the disease.So I am looking for yoga.

    i am not able to sit cross legged in pranayam for long time .My leg pains.Can I do pranayam by sitting in chair.

  3. 22
    Indu Says:

    Hi there,
    I was actually trying to find some yoga poses for pitta body types…i’ve developed an ulcer in my stomach and it has really reduced my energy levels by half as well as my life….and just the constant agonizing burn and pains…i’m growing tired of it and have decided to put together something on my own…looking up cooling foods that heal ulcers and some proper (with videos or images not simply instructions) yoga postures. It would be a great relief if you’ve got some more videos such as the “Hidden lotus, Sitkari pranayama,Boat, Bow, Locust, Seated twists, Cobra. I watched the Sheetali breathing video and i will practice it everyday henceforth. I would also like to know how to go about doing the Chandra Namaskar (moon salutation) it’s good for pitta types. Thank you so much for taking the time in reading this and i would appreciate any amount of help. Thank You.
    Kind Regards,
    indu

  4. 21
    Best Yoga for Stress Relief Poses Says:

    [...] Previously I have provided several excellent yoga breathing exercises and meditation techniques to help you relax and reduce stress.  Examples of these are, Sheetali Yoga Breathing for Reducing Stress, Relaxation Meditation for Immediate Stress Reduction and the Best Relaxation Technique and Stress Relief Exercise – Corpse Pose.  Furthermore, I have given other great tips and techniques for anxiety and stress reduction in the article, Treatments for Stress and Anxiety Disorder.  But what I am going to provide today are the best yoga poses you can do for stress relief.  This set of 5 poses I call Yoga Set for Stress Relief. [...]

  5. 20
    lavi Says:

    kindly reply on my mail address given above.

  6. 19
    lavi Says:

    I m a short tempered girl having mucus without cough in my throat for lat 5-6 yrs. It has affected my hearing capability also. it is stucked in my throat comes up and down but doesn’t come out.
    how can I get rid of it? Can I do sheetali yoga?

  7. 18
    Anmol Mehta Says:

    Dear Ra,

    Balance is the key here. Kundalini can create heat, but in some practices of Kundalini Yoga the goal is to create a cooling air to rise. I would suggest not going to either extreme, and with the active form of KY which you love, be watchful of the heat.

    Heat during intense practice is purifying, but if it lingers in the system, it can cause imbalances, as the body is already optimized for it’s current base temperature. Straying too far from this blueprint, is not advised for long periods of time.

    So I would suggest to re-balance excessive heat and this way be able to practice without worry of long term internal derangments.

    Also, being able to cool your body on demand is a mastery as well. Being able to do which, will give you greater confidence when facing heat related challenges.

    Best,
    Anmol

  8. 17
    ra Says:

    Dear Anmolji,
    A secondary question about heat:
    I have noticed that in some instances, stimulation of heat is encouraged, as in Bhastrika Pranayam. At a lesser level of practice, i have less heat (when now doing Wealth Kriya and SCK)…..More intense practice, more heat. At this point it lingers in my neck and head mostly, which is why i began Sheetali Pranayam. So i guess i don’t know the difference between desirable heat and a heat imbalance, which you have stated you have experienced. Can you explain? I LOVE the heat, since i am always cold, but don’t want to hurt myself.
    Much Peace
    Ra

  9. 16
    ra Says:

    Dear Anmol Ji
    The heat we are cooling is caused by the activity of Kundalini….If we do cool it, does it reverse the progress of our practice (movement of the energy) or just allow us to use the energy without creating the heat imbalance?

    All the bet to you

    Ra-Gini ( :^)

  10. 15
    Best Treatments for Stress and Anxiety Disorder Says:

    [...] Sheetali Breathing Exercise for Stress Management [...]

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