Beat the heat with these cooling pranayamas: Sitali and Sitkari


In Ayurveda and yoga, we talk a lot about stoking the agni, which is internal fire. One of the ways to light up the agni is through vigorous movements and breathwork. But breathing techniques can also be used to calm and cool the body down. In this blog post, learn how to beat the heat with cooling pranayamas.

Who needs cooling pranayama?

In Ayurveda, there are three primary doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha. These doshas are found in humans, plants, animals, seasons, time of the day, and more. Summer is Pitta season in Ayurveda. As Pitta rise externally in the environment, it also increases internally within our bodies and minds at this time of year. Pitta imbalance can look like loose stools or heart burn or irritability or anger outbursts or criticism etc. If you’ve ever felt hot and bothered, agitated over simple things, burdened with anger, suffered from hot flashes, get heartburn easily, or just feeling red and burnt from the summer heat, then the cooling breath is the perfect approach to counteract these feelings.

What is Sitali?

Sitali is a Sanskrit word meaning “cooling” or “soothing.” The technique adds moisture to your system, it soothes the mind, and softens the pitta dosha imbalance. Regular practice of Sitali Pranayama helps expel toxins out of the body & cleanses it. Also, you will feel a reduction in anger present in your mind & body due to excess work or hot weather or hot working environment (factories) instantly by the practice of Sitali.

Benefits of Sitali 

Sitali pranayama pacifies Pitta and is neutral towards vata and kapha. So, it’s a helpful choice for anyone  in times of excess heat. Because of its cooling effect, sitali pranayama is believed to benefit the nervous system and endocrine glands. It is also thought to offer the following benefits:

  • Reduces fever
  • Controls hunger and thirst
  • Relieves stress
  • Reduces bile – reducing the amount of bile waste that causes heartburn
  • Reduces anxiety and stress
  • Increased concentration
  • Controls hunger and quenches the thirst
  • Great for calming and cooling pregnant mama’s
  • Reduces high blood pressure
  • Helps bad breath

How to Practice Sitali Pranayama

  1. Sitting comfortably on a cushion or a chair.
  2. Make sure the spine is upright and neutral.
  3. Close your eyes and feel the movement of your breath.
  4. Take a few natural breaths to get centered.
  5. Then curl your tongue and extend it out a little.
  6. Inhale through the tunnel of the tongue. allow your attention to come to the cooling effect in the mouth, down the throat and into the torso.
  7. Release the tongue, close the mouth, and exhale out through the nose.
  8. Repeat for a couple of minutes, allowing the cooling effect to bring ease into the body and mind.

What if you can’t roll your tongue?

People who find it difficult to roll the tongue may practice a related cooling pranayama called sitkari, in which the breath is drawn in through the mouth with closed teeth.

How to Practice Sitkari Pranayama and beat the heat?

  1. Sit comfortably on a cushion or a chair.
  2. Make sure the spine is neutral.
  3. Take a few natural breaths to center yourself.
  4. Bring the upper and lower teeth together while keeping the lips open as much as you can.
  5. Inhale through closed teeth while making a soft hissing sound.
  6. Release the teeth and close the mouth as you exhale through the nose.
  7. Repeat for a couple of minutes, allowing the cooling effect to bring ease into the body and mind.

Who should not practice Sitali and Sitkari?

While it’s alluring to want to beat the heat with these two cooling pranayamas of Sitali and Sitkari, people who have low blood pressure should avoid them. They reduce blood pressure in the body. As Sitali and Sitkari reduce body temperature, avoid practicing during the cooler months or if you have a cold or sluggish agni. If you have cold and cough, then these two pranayamas will worsen things.


“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.” ~ Nhat Hanh


Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional. If you are looking for advice from a trained yogi and ayurvedic coach, contact me here.