4 Reasons You'll Want To Try This Humming Breathwork & How To Do It
Bhramari pranayama is named after the Hindu deity Bhramari, the goddess of bees. The name is fitting, as the light humming sound of the bhramari breath alludes to the buzzing sound that bees' wings make. This simple breath practice has numerous applications that can have profound effects on the mind and body.
Steps to practice Bhramari pranayama:
- Sit in a chair, in a kneeling position, or cross-legged, with a tall neutral spine. This practice can also be done lying down.
- Close your mouth and separate your teeth slightly. Place your tongue against the roof of your mouth, just behind your upper teeth.
- Option: Cover your ear canals with your index fingers and close your eyes, or take shanmukhi mudra by placing your thumbs over your ears and laying your fingers flat over your eyes and cheeks.
- Make the sound om while exhaling through the nose.
- Inhale slowly through the nose.
- Practice for 5 to 15 minutes.
Note: This practice is usually done with the index fingers in the ears to amplify the inner resonance of the reverberating hum. As an alternative, it can be done using shanmukhi mudra. Shanmukhi mudra means "six-gate seal" and is said to close off the six gates of perception (two eyes, two ears, nose, and mouth) so that attention can be directed to the inner self. This mudra is done by covering the ears with the thumbs while the fingers lie flat over the eyes and cheeks.
Bhramari pranayama effects:
- Increases nitric oxide production 15-fold (increases cardiovascular function; increases oxygen uptake, including oxygen to the muscles; decreases muscle soreness; decreases recovery time; decreases inflammation; strengthens the immune system; increases memory and learning; boosts sexual function and libido)
- Supports a tamasic state (grounding, rest, and recovery)
- Increases parasympathetic tone (rest and digest)
- Suppresses overactive thoughts and a busy mind
The humming sound that is created increases the production of nitric oxide in the paranasal sinuses by 15 times compared to normal breathing. This massive gain in nitric oxide comes from the vibration of the air, which increases the air exchange in the sinuses and nasal cavity. Nitric oxide is a powerful neurotransmitter, vital for good health and well-being. It aids in and facilitates several physiological functions, from increasing oxygen uptake and improving cardiovascular function to strength gains and post-workout recovery. Nitric oxide helps decrease inflammation, increases the production of antioxidants, and improves immune system function.
It also helps improve memory, concentration, and learning and is an important component in sexual function and libido. Bhramari breath slows the exhalation and creates a sound for the mind to focus on, much like the ujjayi breath. The humming sound is said to have a calming effect on the mind, quieting the constant stream of turbulent thoughts.
Bhramari pranayama is a powerful technique for decreasing anxiety, agitation, and stress. It calms the mind and focuses our thoughts. And if we take the humming technique from this practice and apply it to other pranayama practices, we can gain a multiplicity of benefits from the massive increase in nitric oxide.
Dylan Werner is a renowned international yoga instructor and author of The Illuminated Breath. His extensive knowledge of anatomy and physiology and deep understanding of eastern philosophy lends a unique perspective to his teachings. Former US Marine and Iraq War veteran turned city firefighter/paramedic, Dylan left his career to pursue a life of mindfulness, dedicating himself to helping others in their journey towards a more peaceful, harmonious life.