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Sitkari Pranayama

Sitkari is an uncommon pranayama. One outstanding feature of this variety is puraka (inhalation) with sit (sound), which is called sitka in Sanskrit. For producing this sound, the tip of the tongue is kept in touch with the back side of the upper front teeth. The lips are parted slightly and puraka is done through the mouth, the sit sound being produced by the friction of the air with the surface and the sides of the tongue. Puraka is done slowly, then the mouth is shut and the breath is held inside, applying the three bandhas, namely mulabandha (anal lock), uddiyana bandha (abdominal lock) and jalandhara bandha (chin lock). After holding the breath inside, recaka (breathing out) is done through both nostrils. The time taken by the three acts or components of pranayama is in the proportion of 1:2:2 in the beginning of practice and 1:4:2 after a few months practice.

Svatmarama has praised this variety of pranayama in his Hatha Yoga Pradipika (II.53-55), saying that by the practice of sitkari pranayama the adept becomes attractive to females like Kamadeva (God of love). He develops yogic powers and becomes Yogindra, an adept par excellence.

Sitkari is not mentioned in other important texts of hatha yoga. In Sandilya Upanishad (I.31), the name of this variety is given as sitkari. The description is the same as mentioned above, and the beneficial effect mentioned here is achieving control o hunger, thirst and slothfulness.