Keeping Your Cool with Sitali Pranayama
If I could give one piece of advice to every new parent, it wouldn’t actually be a piece of advice at all. I’d take the opportunity to share a breathing exercise that will serve them time and time again. From the first pregnancy to the empty nest, parenting offers plenty of opportunities to experience anxiety, irritation, and anger. Keeping your cool isn’t always easy and parenting while frustrated doesn’t usually go too well. Fortunately, yoga offers us a breathing exercise called “Sitali Pranayama” that can save the day. It’s easy to do, you don’t need any special equipment, and you can even do it while your kids are fighting in the back of the car!
Sitali Pranayama gives power, strength, and vitality while soothing and releasing hot emotions like irritation, shame, and anger. It’s calming, cooling, and brings you back to center. I always teach the pregnant mamas in my prenatal yoga classes this breath as it can be useful during the intensity of labor. Moms with anxiety love it because it slows the breath down and helps them regain a sense of calm and control. Kids love it because it looks silly and they can learn to regulate their own emotions. It’s really a kind of one-size-fits-all yoga wonder!
Knowing Sitali Pranayama (or as we call it in Kids Yoga, “The Really Cool Breath”) is like having a built-in air conditioner in your body. Whether the heat is coming from the outside on a hot summer day or the inside when you’re so upset you feel your blood could boil, Sitali Pranayama is there to cool you off and make you comfortable again.
How to do it: Sit up tall Easy Pose or in a chair, contracting the neck just slightly as if to make a double chin. We call this “Neck Lock,” or Jalandhar Bandh in yoga. Close your eyes (unless you’re driving) and stick out your tongue. Curl your tongue into a tube lengthwise, like a taco shape. Inhale deeply through the rolled tongue, close your mouth, and exhale through the nose. Continue breathing in this way for 3-11 minutes. If you can’t roll and extend your tongue as directed, you may gently hold the tongue between the teeth.