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Sitali Karana – Breathing Exercise In Yoga

Sitali karana is derived from the refreshing cooling effect it has on the body which results from breathing performed through the mouth instead of the nose. Sitali karana is a breathing exercise in yoga.

The position or posture to be adopted is padmasana, siddhasana or one may sit cross-legged. The tongue should protrude roughly one inch over the lips. It takes the form of a freshly rolled leaf about to open, i.e., folded lengthwise both inside and outside the mouth. The performer should inhale by drawing in the air through the channel formed by the tongue, making a sibilant second until the lungs are completely filled. Once inhalation is accomplished, the tongue is drawn in, the lips closed and the breath held for several second. The air is let out slowly through the nose. This completes the cycle. This cyclic exercise should be repeated two or three times, followed by complete relaxation. Initially, this exercise should be performed twice or thrice and gradually the number of cycles may be increased.

For ensuring, complete relaxation, the yogic posture should be adopted in the following way: Lie on the back, with arms at the sides, legs stretched out and slightly apart. Close the eyes and breathe slowly and deeply, ensuring an almost equal period of inhaling and exhaling an almost – as in complete yogic breathing – while consciously and gradually relaxing each muscle of the body: feet, calves, knees, thighs, abdomen, hips, back, hands, arms, shoulders, neck, head and face. One should let oneself go completely and relax.

This pranayama invigorates the body with a surging wave of cooling freshness, activating the liver, with beneficial effects on the circulation of blood and hence on body temperature. However, those suffering from high blood pressure should omit the holding of breath. Those with cardiac complaints should not do this pranayama independently.