5 Minutes to Cool Your Insides: Sitali & Sitkari Pranayama

The power of our breath to tune into presence and influence our nervous system is immense.

When the heat rises on these scorching Summer days, don’t forget the breath as a wonderful tool and pathway towards a cooler, calmer interior space. This is also just as important as we start to cool towards Autumn: heat is retained in the body and tissues even after the felt sensation has dissipated.

In Ayurveda (the sister science of Yoga), Summer and heat are aligned with Pitta, the elements of water and fire. Balanced, Pitta moves us with determination, courage and purpose, showing as a healthy digestion and appetite for joyful activity. When aggravated by excessive heat, however, it moves us towards frustration, anger, inflammation in the body, and feverish symptoms or ‘boiling over’ our thoughts.

Sitali (Sanskrit ‘Cooling, Soothing’) or Sitkari breath is a simple and effective practice you can do almost anywhere - though discretion is advised, as it can be a little slurpy sounding!

It can help calm the internal heat that may otherwise build into excess turbulence or frustration in the mind and spirit. It only takes a couple of minutes to still your body, gather your awareness, and draw a clear cooling stream into your inner landscape.


Start in a comfortable seat, spine upright, crown tall and hips grounded. Take a few steady breaths that sense deeper into your sides and belly.

SITALI - If you can curl your tongue, make a straw, and suck the air in through your mouth like you’re drinking the air. The moisture on your tongue cools the fresh air before it enters your throat and lungs. Exhale slowly and completely through the nostrils.

SITKARI - The same effect, a more hissing sound for those not genetically made for tongue rolling! You can create the same cooling, humidifying effect by sucking air through the gaps in your teeth, perhaps with the tongue tip pressing lightly against the back of your top teeth. 

Continue for 10 slow breaths, or until you feel the snowflakes of your thoughts settling gently rather than swirling about.

When you feel complete, ride a few slow waves of breaths through the nose, into the belly, and out. Observe the shifts in your state of being, thank yourself for making the space, and acknowledge your body, the home you inhabit. Perhaps the sky of your landscape is a little calmer, broader, or clearer.

Gently, gather yourself back into your life.

Interested in more simple Ayurvedic routines to balance your energy and cultivate your digestive health?

Join us in March for
Revitalize Your Gut: The Yoga of Digestion
Saturday 9 March | 3pm-5.30pm

Discover more about your unique constitution and how a holistic approach to gut health can stoke vitality from the inside. Learn more HERE.