BHRAMARI PRANAYAMA - THE HUMMING BEE BREATH
Pranayama is one practice that has been found to be effective to physiology of mankind in many ways. The Sanskrit word Pranayama contains two segments namely Prana (means vital force) and Yama (means control). It literally means a yogic act performed for controlling the flow of vital energy that governs all the physiological process in the body.
Bhramari is one type of pranayama. The simplicity of slow breathing and that it could be easily practiced by everyone irrespective of their age or gender, makes it notifiable.
In Bhramari Pranayama, the practitioner sits in any comfortable posture and inhale and exhale through nostrils slowly and deeply. While exhaling, will have to produce sound (humming sound) like bumble bee strictly through nasal airways, keeping oral cavity closed by the lips, ears closed by fingers. The self-induced humming sound in this practice resembles mantra repetition technique. Bhramari Pranayama changes the normal breathing rhythm, with prolonged exhalation and short inhalation, which produces significant impact in physiological system. Practice of Bhramari Pranayama for 5 to 10 minutes continuously induce subjective feelings of mind refreshment and blissfulness and sometimes the subjects are believed to go to even meditative state. So Bhramari Pranayama technique is not only a breathing practice but also a form of meditation.
Bhramari Pranayama with Shanmukhi Mudra - Steps
Close your eyes and focus on your natural breathing.
Place your hands in Shanmukhi Mudra
Close your ears with your thumbs and place your index fingers on the lower parts of your eyelids to close your eyes.
Use your middle fingers to partially close your nostrils.
Then, place your ring fingers above your lips and your little fingers below your lips to close your mouth.
Shanmukhi Mudra literally translates to “six mouths” and by placing our fingers into the above-mentioned positions we close the six mouths of our senses, lowering sensory input to a minimum.
From here, breathe in through your nostrils and engage your vocal cords as if you are snoring.
Once you have completed your inhalation, exhale for as long as you can.
Create a high-pitched humming sound from your nose as you exhale, remembering to hold your Shanmukhi Mudra in place.
Repeat 3-5 times and close with an exhalation.
Improvement of focus, memory, and self-awareness.
Helps in managing anxiety, tension, anger.
Helps in control of migraine.
Beneficial in case of sleeplessness
How it balances the nervous system:
The humming sound created vibrates the muscles of the larynx and pharynx. This movement can stimulate the vagus nerve; a nerve that plays a key role in regulating the parasympathetic nervous system. When the parasympathetic system is activated, it stimulates our rest and digestion response which slows the heart rate, relaxes the muscles and promotes feeling of calm. Regular practice can therefore actively relax the body and mind.
Precautions for Doing Bhramari Pranayama
Bhramari Pranayama should be done on an empty stomach or within four to five hour of eating.
Pranayama should be done first thing in the morning, preferably before sunrise.
Take a break and breathe deeply before moving on to the next round if you get exhausted while doing the Asana. Do not push yourself to do the Pranayama.
While creating the humming sound, avoid putting pressure on your tragus.
Instead of putting your fingers inside your ear, place them on the tragus.
When practising Bhramari, do not put pressure on your face or eyes.
When making a humming sound, be sure you do not go breathless.
Who should not do Bhramari?
The following people are recommended to avoid practicing Bhramari pranayama without consulting with a yoga expert.
Those who are pregnant or menstruating.
Those with ear infections or ear-irritations
Those experiencing frequent chest-pains.
Those with extremely high blood-pressure.
Those who are prone to get epilepsy.
In our busy day to day routine, if we tend to lose touch with ourselves, then practicing Bhramari Pranayama is an opportunity to step back, slowdown and reconnect with our inner self in a way that can be truly restorative and healing.