A cooling yoga practice to counter the heat wave

In yoga, we talk a lot about stoking the internal fire (Agni) through movement and breath. However, breathing can also be used to calm and cool the body and the mind.

People with fiery pitta constitutions are often prescribed Sitali breathing in Ayurvedic medicine.

In the Yoga class, I am sharing with you today, you will experience Sitali pranayama (Cooling breath) and use the Conch mudra, which also helps to cool the body and mind.

Sitali pranayama, which is performed by curling the tongue and breathing through it, or through pursed lips behind the teeth, provides cooling and soothing properties to the body and engages the parasympathetic nervous system to reduce stress.

When doing Sitali breath, you slowly sip air through a rolled tongue (or pursed lips if you can’t roll your tongue due to genetics). This is just the thing to soothe your body after a vigorous, sweaty yoga session or even on a hot day!

Shankh Mudra resembles the shape of a conch shell or chank. A conch is an auspicious symbol in Hinduism that is played in rituals and religious ceremonies.

By performing shankh mudra, we eliminate negative thoughts, energies, and impurities on our spiritual path. In fact, the sound of the conch shell, which sounds like the sea, is actually the sound of ‘OM’. The sound of OM intrinsic in this mudra pulls you out of that chaos of the mind and prevents you from following your inner voice.
You might wonder, how can a mudra be cooling? We encircle our thumb in Shankh mudra with the fingers of the opposing hand to subdue the excessive fire in our body.

At the same time, the thumb of the opposite hand touches the middle finger of the opposite hand. Bringing the ether element into balance creates more room within the body for digestion and assimilation. A larger space also signifies that you’re more likely to be able to think outside the box.

We can compare the spiral of our hands in Shankh mudra with the coil of our digestive system. It is therefore considered to be a useful practice to calm down the excessive digestive fire, which can lead to constipation and stomach ulcers.

Practicing Shankha Mudra effectively requires a certain amount of time and duration. An individual can perform this mudra for a few minutes to an hour at a time. In ideal circumstances, you should do 15 minutes in one sitting, three times a day. In this practice, we only use it briefly, but with the Sitali breath, it works.