Guest Author - Tracy Webb
Summer is here at last, bringing with it some unusually extreme heat that we are not used to. When we get too hot we tend to become lethargic, befuddled, and sometimes anxious. We can feel less able to concentrate, irritable, accident prone and generally feel uncomfortable doing any activity.
Practicing yogic breathing exercises, particularly Sheetli Pranayam and Sheetkari Pranyam, can help to alleviate some of the above symptoms. Since yoga originated in India the system includes techniques that assist with lowering body temperature. By practicing these exercises throughout the day you can expect to find a reduction in brain fuzziness, more energy and focus, plus an increase in productivity without feeling uncomfortable.
This is the most common breathing exercise for cooling the body down. Through practicing, the blood is purified, thirst is quenched and the level of fluid in the body is maintained, hungry is appeased, lethargy is reduced and energy is increased. So many benefits can be achieved for very little effort.
Sheetli pranayam can be practiced in deeper or more superficial ways. It can be practiced on the bus, at the office or anywhere you are able to take a few minutes to breathe consciously.
Basic version when on the move
Push the tongue out and curl the sides in to the center to form a tube.
Breathe in through the rolled up tongue.
Bring the tongue back into the mouth.
Hold the breath for a count of five.
Exhale slowly through the nose.
Do for 5 to 10 rounds, or until you feel the body start to cool down.
Version to include within yoga session
Sit cross legged on the floor.
Close the eyes gently.
Push the tongue out and roll the sides together to form a tube.
Breathe in through the tongue tube.
Bring the tongue back into the mouth and close the lips and puff the cheeks out.
Hold the breath for a count of 5 or more if you can.
Exhale through the nose slowly.
Repeat 5 to 10 times.
There are a few cautions with practicing the more intense version:
Do not practice in winter.
Do not practice if you have low blood pressure.
The benefits of practicing Sheetkari are similar to those of Sheetli Pranayam.
Sheetkari can also be practiced on the move as it is easy to do anywhere.
Open the mouth and bring teeth together so they are showing.
Keep the tongue at the back of the teeth.
Breathe in through the teeth.
Close the mouth.
Breathe out through the nostrils.
Repeat five times to begin with and build up to more repetitions gradually.
As with all yoga practices, do both these exercises consciously and slowly.
I hope they help to keep you cool. Happy practicing!