Do you catch yourself humming absent-mindedly while you’re walking round a shop, or filling in paperwork? Studies show that the sounds in our environment have a direct impact on our stress levels — so it’s no surprise that lots of us make sounds to soothe our own stress, or aid our concentration.
Bhramari Pranayama is a breathing which does exactly that. It uses the creation of sound in the throat, combined with closing off the ears to external sounds, to calm the nervous system and settle the thoughts.
How Bhramari Could Help You
The steady, bee-like humming sound you create during bhramari pranayama has an instant soothing effect on the mind. It’s an ideal practice for you if you ever feel anxious or overwhelmed because its effects are so immediate.
You can use it to calm down at any time.
As well as this wonderful, speedy anxiety relief, the benefits of bhramari include:
- Reduced blood pressure and heart rate
- Relief from difficult emotions, including anger
- Reduced insomnia
- Strengthened vocal chords, increasing voice control
- Improved concentration
- A feeling of connectedness with yourself in the present moment through focus on sounds and vibration within the body
- The experience of a meditative state arising from inward-directed awareness
Many people find bhramari breathe very enjoyable to practice. It often feels comforting; a bit like giving yourself a loving hug!
How to Practice Bhramari Pranayama
Brahmari should always be practiced in an upright position — never lying down. Sit comfortably, and use a cushion, bolster or a yoga block to elevate the hips or in a chair. The mouth should be lightly closed, but the jaw must be relaxed, with a little space between the teeth.
- Lift the arms and place the index or middle fingers in the ears to block external noise. If you don’t feel comfortable with the fingers in the ears, you can press on the tragus instead.
- Focus the awareness behind the eyebrow centre in the middle of the brain. Take a few natural breaths here.
- Take a relaxed deep inhalation through the nose and on the exhale, create an even, deep humming sound in the throat — just like a bee. Keep the awareness in the middle of the brain; notice the vibrations.
- Again, inhale deeply and then exhale slowly and smoothly, humming continuously until the end of the exhale.
- Continue for 5 or 10 breaths.
- After the final round remain with the eyes closed and ears blocked for 30 seconds, observing the sensations and effects of the practice before lowering the hands to the knees.
Remember — if you feel dizzy or unwell, take a break; and when you come back to your practice, try reducing the length and depth of each breath.
Is There Any Reason You Shouldn’t Practice Bhramari?
Bhramari is a very safe pranayama. As long as you are sitting upright, there are few known issues associated with the practice.
You shouldn’t practice bhramari if you are feeling sick, have a cold or severe ear infection, as there is a chance it may worsen the problem. And if you have high blood pressure or any heart disease, the breath shouldn’t be retained in the body — keep it flowing in and out.
Brahmari also isn’t recommend for those with mental health conditions such as bipolar or schizophrenia unless under the guidance of a health professional.
Breathe, Hum, Be
Take it easy, and observe any vibrations, sensations, and emotions that come up.
Enjoy your practice!
If you’d like to learn more about traditional breathing techniques, have a peek at my Overview of Pranayama Practices. It’s being updated with new tutorials all the time.