Humming Bee Breath - Bhramari
Bhramari means bee. Bhramari pranayama is a favourite in my post-work yoga classes. It always gives us a lift and perks us up! However, changing the pitch and/or volume of the hum may alter the therapeutic effects. The versatility of this simple breathing technique is that with a few tweaks it may soothe an anxious mind, or stimulate a lethargic/depressed one. Your choice.
How to do Humming Bee Breath
Sit comfortably, back tall, shoulders relaxed: cross-legged, on a chair etc. Close eyes. Take a couple of natural cycles of breath. Exhale all the air from lungs.
Simple Bee Breath (no mudra)
Inhale through nostrils. Keep lips lightly sealed.
Exhale and make the sound of the letter 'M' - a low to medium pitched humming sound in the throat. Notice any vibrations.
Repeat for six rounds of breath. Keep eyes closed.
Return to normal breathing. Notice any changes. To your mind? To your breathing?
Traditional Bee Breath (with mudra)
Elbows at shoulder level, place your hands on your face in shanmukhi mudra (see photo). This mudra blocks off your senses of hearing and sight.
Place a thumb by each ear. Gently bend the ear tragus (the flap of skin at the ear opening) to block hearing
Place index and middle fingers over closed eyelids (light pressure)
Ring fingers rest by nostrils
Little fingers at corners of closed mouth
Inhale through nostrils for a count of six.
Exhale through lightly sealed lips making the sound of the letter 'M' - a low to medium pitched humming sound in the throat. Exhale until you need to inhale again. No strain.
Repeat 3 - 9 rounds of inhales and exhales.
Release your hands to your thighs or knees. Keep eyes closed.
Rest in this position for a few minutes.
Sitting position: Make sure you are comfy. Cross-legged, chair
Hand position: Rest hands on lap. Keep your eyes closed.
Pitch of buzzing and volume: Try buzzing at different pitches, from low to high, note different effects. Sleep problems: low pitch, quiet, shanmukhi mudra to soothe mind. Blocked nose/sinuses: higher pitch, medium volume (try neti pot also). Stressed: silent, so you can use in public (supermarket queue)
Breathing: If inhaling for a count of six is too long, try a count of three or four. Whichever you choose, focus on making the exhale longer than the inhale.