Why this is great
Breathing exercises, or pranayama practices, are are an instantaneous way to reduce doshic imbalance in the mind and nervous system. In addition to the short term effect of pranayama, there is also a longer term accumulative healing benefit.
Of course, you also increase prana (our animating life force) with all pranayama.
How to do it
With pranayama to reduce pitta, we want to:1. decrease heat or intense energy 2. increase cooling or soft energy 3. increase grounding and calming energy
The left nostril is a cooling energetic channel, while the right nostril is a heating one.
Inhaling is to take in a certain type of energy, and exhaling is to release it.
Putting this information together, it’s easy to see that a practice of inhaling through the left nostril would increase cooling energy. Combining that with exhaling through the right nostril would also decrease heating energy. For all of you out there that have tried alternate nostril breath (anulom-vilom), this is a specialized form of that which reduces pitta. This is a pranayama where you are breathing in and out through your nose.
When using the mouth to breathe, breathing in through a rolled tongue (“sheetali” imagine making your tongue into a straw shape) is a cooling input. Exhaling with your tongue stretched towards your chin (“Lion’s breath”)is a release of heat.
If you want to have fun and use both the nose and mouth, you could inhale through the left nostril and use Lion’s breath to exhale and still achieve the same effect. (It’s a bit awkward and distracting I find)
Seventeen rounds (inhales and exhales) of the breath will attend to the main energetic channels (nadis) that help to soothe the mind.
Here’s a cute video of a teenager demonstrating sheetali. She’s not doing the exhale I described above, so it’s only an input of cooling energy in this video. Understandable, combining a cooling inhalation with a cooling exhalation is more powerful than one alone.
The best time to do this is:
1. on a regular basis in your morning routine (if you are pitta predominant, during pitta season, or if you have pitta imbalance)
2. whenever you feel the pitta emotions in the mind.
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