June 26, 2008

Beat the Heat

It's Summer! And with summer comes heat. For some of us this is welcome news to our internal and external beings. But for some the intensity of the heat can bring lethargy, aggravation and discomfort. Try this simple Pranayama (breathing technique) to help cool you from the inside out both during your yoga practice and anytime you begin to feel overheated. The names of the techniques are called Sitali and Sitkari, which are done by inhaling through the mouth and exhaling through the nose. To do Sitali, sit in a comfortable position, make an O shape with your mouth, like you are going to whistle, and curl the tongue lengthwise. Then, as B.K.S. Iyengar instructs in Light on Pranayama (Crossroad, 1998), "draw in air...as if drinking with a straw and fill the lungs completely." Withdraw the tongue, close the mouth, and hold the breath for five to 10 seconds. Exhale through the nose. Repeat this cycle for five to 10 minutes and then rest and breathe normally. If you can't curl your tongue, try Sitkari, which is similar to Sitali except that the tongue is kept flat. Part the lips and allow the tip of the tongue to protrude slightly. Practice gently and without intensity. Both of these techniqes help to cool the air that is being brought into the system...sort of like our modern day air conditioning! So don't sweat the heat--Be cool!