When we are anxious, on the physical level we begin to breathe shallowly using the upper part of the lungs. Our inhales and exhales become short and sharp. Contrarily, when we are relaxed, we breathe slower using the diaphragm. The lengthening of the exhalation (compared to the inhalation) maintains a healthy level of carbon dioxide in the blood, which helps us relax. Bhramari pranayama, also known as Humming Bee breath, helps to reduce the level of anxiety and relax. In this article, we will share with you what Bhramari pranayama is, what its benefits are, and how to perform it.
What Is Pranayama?
‘Prana‘ is the Sanskrit word for breath, “life force”, or “vital principle”. ‘Ayāma‘ can be translated as “the suspension of breath” or “control”. Thus, “pranayama” can be translated as “control over vital energy”.
Most often, pranayama is associated with breathing exercises that have a beneficial effect on the body, saturating it with oxygen. However, yogis use this technique not only for the purpose of improving their physical bodies but also as a way of controlling the flow of prana (vital energy).
Prana is the vital energy that fills everything in the Universe. It saturates all living things with life, providing physical bodies with strength. Breathing allows us to absorb prana and control its flow. It is believed that the basis of the entire existence consists of “energy” and “consciousness”, which are very closely interrelated. Prana gives energy to the forming of consciousness.
According to Patanjali, pranayama is the length of time between inhalation and exhalation. During this period, the time of assimilation of prana increases, the fluctuations of the mind decrease and the perception expands. But how is it possible to reduce the excitation of the brain by holding the breath? This is due to the fact that nerve impulses in some parts of the body are suspended, and the structure of brain waves is harmonized. Therefore, pranayama is one of the most important elements of Hatha yoga.
What Is Humming Bee Breath?
This pranayama derives its name from the black Indian bee called Bhramari. Bhramari = type of Indian bee; pranayama = breathing technique. This pranayama is named so because of the humming sound produced at the back of the throat during the practice – like the gentle humming of a bee.
The Benefits of the Humming Bee Breath
Bhramari pranayama, or Humming Bee Breath, is a safe and easy-to-learn practice that has tremendous therapeutic potential. Here are the benefits of performing Humming Bee Breath:
- It has a beneficial effect on the thyroid, parathyroid, and thymus glands;
- Calms the nervous system;
- Relieves tension and anxiety;
- Helps you fall asleep quickly, relieves insomnia;
- Makes the voice melodic, strengthens the ligaments;
- Helps with diseases of the throat and larynx, as well as nasal congestion.
- Relieves headaches and migraines.
- Improves memory and concentration.
- Reduces blood pressure.
- Vibrations that occur in the body help the cells to remove toxins.
- Builds confidence.
- It prepares you for deep meditation.
How to Perform Bhramari Pranayama?
The technique of performing Bhramari Pranayama is quite simple and does not require special training. It can be performed at any time of the day and even after having a meal. Also, it has no age restrictions.
- Sit in any position that is comfortable for you with a straight back and relaxed shoulders.
- Close the lips, keeping the teeth slightly apart.
- Bring the tip of your tongue to the space behind the upper front teeth. Maintain this position throughout the practice, frequently checking to ensure that the jaw remains relaxed.
- Close each ears with the thumbs, place the index fingers at the midpoint of the forehead – just above the eyebrows – and reach the middle, ring, and pinky fingers across the eyes so that the tips of these fingers press very gently against the bridge of the nose.
- Take a long, deep breath in through the nostrils, bringing the breath all the way into the belly.
- Drop the chin to the chest and begin to exhale slowly, making a steady, low-pitched ‘hmmm’ sound at the back of the throat – like the humming of a bee. Focus on making the sound soft, smooth, and steady.
- Keep the body completely still and bring your awareness to the center of the head – to your Third eye chakra – letting the sound fill the head and spread to the body.
- At the end of the exhalation, slowly straighten your neck as you inhale again through the nostrils to repeat the process.
This is one breathing cycle. Start mastering this pranayama with 7 breathing cycles and gradually increase to 20-30.
After performing the Humming Bee breath practice, do not rush to open your eyes, stay in a meditative state, observe the sensations in the body, sounds, and smells in the surrounding space.
- This pranayama does not require much effort, so you should never feel a lack of air during the humming process. If you still feel a lack of air, shorten the duration of the exhalation.
- During the practice, keep your body relaxed – there should be no unpleasant or painful sensations, tension, or tremor of the limbs, loss of balance, or emotional anxiety.
- If you find it difficult to relax in a sitting position, then try to lie down, but keep in mind that in a lying position, this technique will have a strong hypnotic effect.
- Instead of “M-m-m-m-m”, you can say “A-U-M” or “OM”.
- During the hum, you can hold the Mula Bandha (Root Lock).
It is not recommended to practice Bhramari pranayama for those people who have an ear infection or epilepsy.