Indian summers have started to get crazy hot. Most of us can barely stay without air conditioners and coolers during this time. And whilst they help, it is pretty much superficial. Here are a few techniques borrowed from ancient yoga to cool you down from within, and they hardly take 5 minutes of your time. These pranayama exercises have stood the test of time, and are sure to give you some soothing benefits.
For all the lucky people who are not witnessing a sizzling hot summer season, you can practice these breathing exercises to cool down post a workout, or get the other health benefits. The techniques described below are exceptionally helpful if you’re stressed out, or hangry or simply frustrated in the traffic.
- Shitali (also known as the cooling breath)
How to do it: Sit in any meditative posture, either on the floor or a chair. Keep your back straight, shoulders relaxed and chin roughly parallel to the floor. Keep your facial muscles relaxed, and not constricting the nose.
Now roll your tongue and stick it out as much as possible. It’ll look like a straw. Remember to not strain it. Next, take a deep inhale through the rolled tongue. Once the inhalation is complete, close your mouth, hold for a moment and breathe out through your nostrils.
( For people who cannot roll their tongue, you can simply place the tongue between the lips and inhale through the mouth. It works just perfect.)
How it helps: When you inhale, the moisture on the tongue cools down the inhaled air. It is said that this breath not only helps your body, but helps you have a relaxed state of mind, and calms down your nervous system. This breath is also effective at keeping stomach problems like acidity and ulcers away.
Recommended practice: 5 rounds/ session as and when needed.
- Sitkari (also known as the hissing breath)
How to do it: Sit in any meditative posture as described for Shitali. Now lightly clench your teeth together, and pull your cheeks into a small smile. Inhale deeply through the clenched teeth until a sense of fullness is felt in the chest. Now close the mouth and hold the inhaled air for a moment. Now, breathe out through the nostrils and repeat.
How it helps: It helps in reducing the body temperature and relaxes the mind as well. The cooling of the inhaled air occurs by a similar mechanism as seen in Shitali. This practice also helps you detoxify the body.
Recommended practice: 5 rounds/session as and when needed.
- Chandrabhedana pranayama (also known as left nostril breathing)
How to do it: Sit in any meditative posture as described for Shitali. Form a Vishnu mudra with your right hand. To achieve the Vishnu mudra, fold your pointer and the middle fingers, with the other 3 fingers sticking out. Now using the right thumb, close your right nostril. Inhale slowly and rhythmically through the left nostril. Avoid any jerky movements. After inhalation, hold the breath for a moment (ideally double the time period you took for inhalation). And then, exhale with the right nostril. Repeat this cycle for 5 rounds.
How it helps: As per the ancient yogic texts, the left nostril, also called as the Ida-nadi, helps reduce the body heat. This exercise helps in conditions like mental agitation, high blood pressure, and stress. It is also said to regulate the bile flow in the body.
Recommended practice: 5 rounds/ session.