Sheetkari pranayama is a breathing practice that cools the body and reduces thirst. Therefore, performing this pranayama will be especially beneficial during hot summer days when you want to naturally restore body temperature, protect it from overheating and dehydration. In this article, I will share with you the essence and benefits of Sheetkari pranayama and will give you step-by-step instructions for this practice.
What Is Pranayama?
‘Prana‘ is the Sanskrit word for breath, “life force”, or “vital principle”. ‘Ayāma‘ can be translated as “the suspension of breath” or “control”. Thus, “pranayama” can be translated as “control over vital energy”.
According to Patanjali, pranayama is the length of time between inhalation and exhalation. During this period, the time of assimilation of prana increases, the fluctuations of the mind decrease and the perception expands. During pranayama practice, the nerve impulses in some parts of the body are suspended, and the structure of brain waves is harmonized. Therefore, pranayama is one of the most important elements of Hatha yoga.
What Is Sheetkari Pranayama?
Sheetkari pranayama is a yogic breathing practice that calms the mind and cools the body. The sound “shee” or “sheet” is made during inhalation in this practice. The Sanskrit word kari means ‘that which produces’. Therefore Sheetkari can be translated as the “Pranayama that produces that sound ‘shee’”. In English, the practice is usually called ‘the hissing breath’ or ‘the cooling breath’.
Sheetkari pranayama is a variation of the Sheetali Pranayama. In Sheetkari pranayama, the tongue is not rolled into a tube; instead, it is rolled up to touch the upper palate. The teeth are then clenched and the lips are kept apart. Those who find it difficult to perform Sheetali Pranayama can easily practice Sheetkari pranayama and get similar benefits.
Sheetkari Pranayama is usually performed after practicing other asanas and pranayamas.
Benefits Of Sheetkari Pranayama
Sheetkari Pranayama has many benefits. Here are some of them:
- Calms the nervous system;
- Purifies the blood;
- Treats diseases of the tongue, mouth, throat, and nose;
- Normalizes high blood pressure;
- Treats diseases of the liver;
- Normalizes body temperature;
- Relieves sleepiness and laziness;
- Stimulates body functions to digest, move, and eliminate the food (improves digestion);
- Improves the health of teeth and gums;
- Cures fevers, enlarged spleen, colic, and disorders of the bile;
- Eliminates the feeling of hunger and thirst;
- Increases mental capacity;
- Supports mental health;
- Reduces anxiety;
- Cools and relaxes the entire body and mind;
- Balances Pitta dosha (heat) and neutralizes Kapha and Vata doshas.
Contra-Indications of Sheetkari Pranayama
Keep in mind the following precautions before you get started:
- In this practice, breathing occurs through the mouth, so the air does not have time to heat up and clear. In order not to provoke bronchitis and angina, do not perform this pranayama in the cold season and in a room with polluted air.
- Sitkari pranayama reduces the amount of heat produced by the excretory organs. Therefore, this pranayama is not recommended for people suffering from constipation.
- This pranayama should not be practiced if you are suffering from heart problems.
- Those who are suffering from low blood pressure should be cautious as this pranayama may lower your blood pressure even more.
- If you have a cold, cough, asthma, bronchitis or other respiratory diseases refrain from practicing Sheetkari Pranayama.
- Avoid practicing Sheetkari pranayama during cold days since cold air can aggravate your lungs.
- It is not recommended to practice this pranayama during pregnancy.
How to Perform Sheetkari Pranayama?
Now let me share with you quick and simple instructions on how to perform Sheetkari pranayama.
- Sit in a comfortable position, legs crossed, back straight, eyes closed.
- Gently press your lower and upper teeth together. Separate your lips as much as possible and expose your teeth to the air (as if you smiled).
- Take a breath through clenched teeth and focus on the hissing sound. Feel the cool air coming in. Raise your chin towards the ceiling.
- At the end of inhalation, close your mouth and relax the tongue.
- Exhale through your nose without opening your mouth and feel the gush of coolness into your nervous system and mind.
Repeat up to 20 times.
- Sheetkari pranayama should be practiced in hot weather, as well as after vigorous asana or other pranayama practices.
- Never practice this pranayama in cold air – it can damage your lungs.
- Stop practicing Sheetkari pranayama if you feel any discomfort.
The Bottom Line
Sheetkari pranayama is quite a simple yet very effective pranayama. Its practice will help you cool your body and get rid of thirst, which is very convenient in situations when you are in a hot environment for a long time without access to water. Many women noticed that Sheetkari pranayama can help with hot flashes during menopause and balance mood swings.
As you can see, Sheetkari pranayama has many benefits, however, it is not recommended to practice in a cool room with working AC or during a cold season. Since when performing Sheetkari pranayama the air does not enter through the nose as usual, but through the mouth, it does not have time to warm up. Therefore, inhaling cold air can lead to angina, bronchitis, or other respiratory diseases.