Sitali Pranayama (Cooling Breath): Steps, Benefits & Precautions

sitali or sheetali pranayama

In our daily lives, our bodies and minds often experience fatigue and the need for relaxation. Sitali (Sheetali)Pranayama offers a way to achieve this through yogic breathing, known for its cooling and calming effects on the body-mind system.

This breathing technique is one of the ‘8 classical pranayamas‘ detailed in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, specifically designed to refresh the body’s systems and restore balance.

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    Regular practice of Sitali Pranayama aids in eliminating toxins from the body and promotes cleansing. It also effectively reduces feelings of anger caused by overwork, hot weather, or environments like factories, providing instant relief.

    Meaning of Sitali or Sheetali

    Sitali,” also spelled “Sheetali” in Hindi, originates from the Sanskrit root word ‘Sheet’, which means ‘cold’ or ‘frigid’. Thus, ‘Sheetal’ can be understood as a noun translating to ‘something with a cooling or soothing effect’.


    The name of this pranayama, Sitali, derives from the hissing sound (Si….Si….) produced through the curled tongue, which instantly provides a cooling sensation at the upper and lower palate (Tali) of the mouth.

    Hence, the Sitali or Sheetali Pranayama (Means controlling the Prana) refers to a breath which letting your Prana cools down by inhaling through the moist curled tongue.

    Steps to Perform Sitali Pranayama

    To practice Sitali Pranayama, you need to sit comfortably in a chair with spine and neck in a straight line. Open your mouth making an ‘O’ shape with the tongue curled on the sides and project it out. Inhale deeply, close the mouth and exhale slowly through your nose.

    Following are the steps to perform Sitali Pranayama on floor.

    • Sit in front of yoga mat at any meditative posture like Padmasana, Sukhasana or in Vajrasana with head, neck, and spine erect in one line. Also, to make practice more effective, you can make Gyan Mudra with your hands.
    • Breathe in deeply 2-3 times with your mouth open, and exhale from the nose to prepare for the sitali breathing.
    • Bring out your tongue while curling it on sides towards the center to form a tube-like shape.
    • Now inhale through the tube-form tongue and towards the end of inhalation, lower your chin to the chest in ‘Jalandhara Bandha’. At this point, hold your breath for 6-8 secs.
    • Before exhaling, lift up your chin, withdraw your tongue & close your mouth. Now exhale completely through your nostrils. This completes one round sitali breathing.

    Practice Note

    If you are unable to roll your tongue, bring your flatten tongue near the mouth and then just purse your lips to make a small “O” shape with your mouth.


    Inhalation vs. exhalation ratio should 4:6 in the beginning. As you become more comfortable in retaining the breath for a longer period, extend this ratio up to 4:8 or 5:10 or 6:12.

    Continue doing Sitali Pranayama for 2-3 minutes, then return to normal breathing and do it 2-3 times again.

    If you are a beginner, in summers, you can do this cooling breath 5 times a day. Then gradually increase it to 10 times a day.

    People who are not able to roll their tongue in sitali pranayama, can practice another breathing exercise which has the same effect as sitali have.

    Also Read: Sitkari Pranayama for Cool Body and Build Vitality 

    Benefits of Sitali Pranayama

    Sitali Pranayama provides many benefits due to its cooling & soothing effect. Its cooling mechanism is effective in balancing the imbalanced Kapha dosha of the body.

    • A research done on the effect of Sitali along with sitkari pranayama on Brain waves has shown, it increases the alpha, delta, and theta waves power and decreases beta wave power. Where alpha waves bend mostly seen in the calm and quiet brains, beta waves observed in mind full of fear and anxiety.
    • It relieves you from stress & anxiety through its soothing & relaxing effect.
    • It also helps reduce fever by bringing down body temperature.
    • Do this when you feel hot during summers to cool down.
    • It helps calm down hunger and thirst in an emergency situation.
    • Its repetitions 3-4 times a day can help bring down overall body temperature by 3 to 4% during summers. It also helps in lowering blood pressure.
    • Sitali Pranayama is very useful for people suffering from Insomnia. Its regular practice will help cure them of insomnia.
    • It is very helpful for people suffering from a sleep disorder. It helps them relax and sleep well for up to 8 hours at night.

    This pranayama also helps in addressing the problem of hair fall in general and during monsoons. Its regular practice restricts hair fall and promotes hair-growth on your head.

    Precautions While Doing Sitali(Sheetali)

    You need to know the following cautious while doing Sitali Pranayama.

    1. For the effective results out of this breathing exercise, it’s preferred to practice it in empty stomach.
    2. Make sure your back and neck are not bent or curved as it restricts the Prana flow within the subtle body.
    3. Unlike other pranayamas, avoid doing Sitali Pranayama during winters and extreme cold weather as it could induce respiratory problems in your lungs
    4. Those having heart ailments should consult a doctor or an experienced Yoga trainer before trying to do Sitali Pranayama.

    Sitali Pranayama Contraindications

    In following medical or health conditions, avoid doing this cooling breath.

    1. People dealing with regular blood pressure, chronic ailments like migraine and chronic constipation should not do this.
    2. People suffering from asthma, cough, cold and congestion should not do it as it will further deteriorate their condition (as it includes breathing-in cool air during controlled breathing exercise).


    In all, Sitali Pranayama is a great yoga exercise that can be done anytime, anywhere to provide relief and relaxation to body and mind. It is also helpful in reducing body-heat, fever; and provides relief from stress, anger, and anxiety.

    It is a breathing exercise that can be done to calm the mind and give a soothing effect to the body while at work in the office. You can also do it in a 10-15 minute break while doing household chores at home. It also helps in reducing anger.

    It is free of cost and is available for one and all. One can do it by watching free tutorials and videos available online.


    1. Amardeep August 1, 2020
      • Dr. Rishita Chandra August 3, 2020
    2. VANI December 8, 2019
      • Dr. Rishita Chandra December 14, 2019
    3. Jason December 6, 2019
      • Dr. Rishita Chandra December 6, 2019

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