Updated: Sep 22
Yoga techniques sometimes give us quick tools to find a little more equilibrium; both on the mat and in daily life.
Bhramari Pranayama (AKA humming bee breath) is a super little tool to have in your kit. It's so easy to do almost anywhere and can be practiced by nearly everyone.
What does bhramari pranayama do?
Bhramari breath is a great practice to combat stress as it quickly anchors your senses with your breath, bringing your mind along with it too. It releases tension, particularly from the head, neck and jaw. The vibration of humming also stimulates the Vagus Nerve, which is one of the points responsible for regulating your nervous system state, getting you back into parasympathetic, AKA 'rest and digest', or even 'be sociable' mode.
How do you do bhramari pranayama?
It's super simple. Sitting upright, press gently with your index fingers, both left and right sides, on the small spot of cartilage front centre of your ears next to your cheekbone. Press carefully until you notice external ambient sound has almost disappeared. Take a breath, then, with your mouth closed, begin to hum a note (tip- it often works best to make a higher pitched sound). Keep humming until you have exhaled fully. Then inhale again, and repeat.
I usually take at least 5 rounds of bhramari breath, but you can experiment with fewer or more as you get into it.
Once you have finished, drop your hands from your ears and have a moment noticing how and what you feel. What has changed?
Who shouldn't practice bhramari pranayama?
Anyone with inner ear issues/infection, epilepsy or pressure in the eyes should not practice bhramari breath. You may find it less comfortable if you have a cold or a headache.
When should I do bhramari pranayama as part of my yoga practice?
Bhramari pranayama is a great way to begin your yoga practice as it can quickly bring you to centre. You can also try it before meditation practice as it may help to banish distractions and too many busy thoughts from your mind. If you take a very active yoga asana/posture practice, you can also try bhramari breath just before Savasana in order to feel as relaxed as possible.
It's also possible to practice bhramari breath 'off the mat' when you need to calm, soothe and focus yourself. After an argument, before an exam or job interview, or just during a busy day at work. You could even do it on the bus and no-one would notice.