Cool down with Sitali Pranayama

When the heat starts to turn up try these breathing techniques and extra yoga and Ayurveda tips to keep your cool.

yoga practice

We love it when the sun finally makes an appearance. However when your dosha is Pitta and the heat turns up you may notice some imbalances too. It’s good to be aware of these so you can do something about it.

What is a dosha?

Ayurveda recognises five elements: air, water, earth, wind and fire. We experience these five elements in the environment around us and they are also reflected in our internal climate. These five elements make up the different doshas (or types).

The 3 different Doshas are: Pitta, Vata and Kapha.

We are all a mix between the doshas, but usually one dosha is predominantly present in our system.

What is Pitta?

Pitta is made up of the elements: fire and water.

Pitta characteristics include being strong, passionate, competitive. They tend to be great planners and leaders. 

Signs of the Pitta dosha being aggravated or out of balance include irritability, having a shorter fuse than normal, feeling easily annoyed, angry and so on.

Physically it can show in things like heartburn, excessive sweating, skin rashes, acne and digestive problems/upsets.

Most of us will experience an increase in Pitta during warmer weather. This means that people whose dosha is already predominantly Pitta will feel the extra effects of overheating in the Summer. They experience excess Pitta and so their dosha becomes out of balance.

So what can you do to cool down Pitta?

1. Sitali Pranayama / Cooling Breath

Sitali is a kind of breathing technique that cools the body, adds moisture to the system and soothes a Pitta imbalance. You simply curl the sides of your tongue and breathe in through your mouth.

You can start with three minutes of Sitali breath as shown in the video below. Then go back to regular breathing and then do another three minutes of Sitali breath. Gradually aim to build up to a 10-minute practice every day. It will help with the physical and mental symptoms of excess Pitta.

You can also end a sweaty yoga practice with Sitali breath to balance the heat you’ve created.

Here’s how to do the Sitali breath

But what if you can’t curl your tongue?

Lots of people can’t do this, it’s just a genetic thing and so if this is the case you can do this alternative cooling technique instead:

2. Sitkari Pranayama / Hissing Teeth Breath

Sitkari (also spelt Sheetkari) is also a cooling breath technique which refreshes the body and mind. The technique is simply inhaling through the mouth with your teeth closed. Watch José’s video for a full demonstration: Beat the Heat with Sheetkari Pranayama

3. Eat foods that cool down Pitta dosha

Try to bring more cooling foods in your diet like watermelon, any other type of melon, strawberries, goji berries, chia seeds, aubergines, cucumber, mint, etc…

This Cooling Cucumber Coconut Bowl recipe from Irina is especially for Pitta dosha. Or try her Yin Flower Power Salad.

4. Switch up your yoga practice

If Pitta is your dominant dosha the chances are that you’ll tend to go for stronger, sweatier types of yoga already. Something that pushes and challenges you physically.

In the hot weather, a more cooling and balancing practice will do you more favours!

Try Calm down A cooling and balancing Pitta Dosha class from Irina Verwer

or Cooling down your Pitta from Kirsten Drooger

Outside of yoga, wimming helps to pacify the Pitta dosha, if you can’t get to the pool use a footbath, or place a cloth soaked with cold water on the back of your neck. And try taking a walk in the moonlight.

I hope this information will help you to recognise what is happening when Pitta is off balance and give you some ideas about what you can do to minimise the effects of it.



Share article
Esther EkhartEsther Ekhart, face and founder of EkhartYoga, brings years of personal yoga and meditation practice, therapy training and study of yoga philosophy into her teaching.