What is Humming Bee Breath?
Known as Brahmari Pranayama in Sanskrit, this breathing technique gets its name from the sound it makes, that is the calming sound of a black humming bee. The exhalation resembles the sound of a humming bee. Humming Bee Breathing instantly calms the mind, removes anxiety, tension and anger. It’s highly effective in de-stressing the mind, relieving headaches and calming the nervous system.
What is the starting position for Humming Bee Pranayama?
Sit in the Easy Pose, Lotus Pose or Thunderbolt Pose with your back straight. If you can’t sit down, sit on a chair with your spine straight and feet on the floor. Ensure the space you are in is quiet, well-ventilated and airy. Keep your eyes softly closed and a gentle smile on your face.
Keep the eyes gently closed and relax your breathing before you start. Observe any sensations and feelings in the mind and body. Take a few normal deep breaths in and out and allow yourself to relax fully.
Now place your hands on the head and use the index finger to plug the ears. Alternatively this practice can be done in Shanmukhi Mudra. In this Mudra, your index fingers are above the eyebrows, middle fingers are above the eyelids, ring fingers are above the upper lip and little fingers are below the lower lip. The thumbs are covering the ears, on the cartilage between your cheek and ear. Alternatively, you can do a simple version where only your index fingers are on the cartilage.
How to practice Humming Bee Pranayama?
- After coming into the starting position, exhale completely. Now, take a deep breath in.
- As you breathe out, gently press the cartilage. Then, start breathing out while making a soothing yet firm humming sound like a bee.
- A high-pitch sound is better for better results.
- Repeat the same pattern of breathing in and out 6-8 times to feel a difference.
- Once completed, lower your hands and relax.
When to practice Humming Bee Breathing?
You can practice humming bee breathing at any time of the day. Given its calming and soothing effects you can even practice this in the middle of the day or while at work if you need a quick de-stress fix! This is a wonderful breathing technique to do at the end of your day or before going to bed. You can even practice this breathing technique multiple times a day. In a yoga session, teachers will either guide you through this after your warm-up or at the end of a session.
Benefits of Humming Bee Breathing
Brahmari pranayama calms and soothes the nerves, especially those around the ears, brain and forehead. The vibrations from the humming sound have a natural calming effect and give immediate relief from tension, worry, anger, stress and anxiety. It’s helpful for those with hypertension as it calms down the agitated mind. It also helps lower blood pressure. It’s also helpful for those with headaches and migraines. It is also helpful in relieving congestion in the chest and lungs, and in improving digestion. It improves concentration and memory, builds confidence and enhances productivity. Brahmari pranayama also prepares you for meditation.
Contraindications of Humming Bee Breathing
There are no serious contradictions of Bhramari Pranayama. Once learnt properly from a certified teacher, anyone can practice this. One must ensure it is practiced on an empty stomach.
More about Brahmari Pranayama
As one of the impactful pranayama techniques described by Swami Swatmarama in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Brahmari Pranayama prepares you for Pratyahara (withdrawal), Dharana (concentration) and Dhyana (meditation). As the humming vibrations spread through the throat, heart, and lungs and gradually every cell of the body, one feels alive, lighter and happier. Brahmari pranayama stimulates the vagus nerve, the longest cranial nerve in the body and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, inducing the rest and digest response.
The Humming Bee Breath is a popular and fun practice amongst kids. It’s also effective in helping children focus on studies and exams.
Shvasa tips for Humming Bee Breathing
- Ensure you do not press too hard on the ear or insert the finger inside the ear. It should remain on the cartilage. Only gently press on the cartilage.
- If you are doing Shanmukhi mudra, do not put pressure on the face.
- The humming sound should be soft and soothing. Avoid forcing it or being too loud.
- Keep the mouth closed with the lips very gently parted when making the sound.