Bhramari Pranayama- Benefits, Steps & Contraindications | Humming Bee Breathing Exercise
The word ‘bhramari’ is derived from the Indian black bee which is called ‘bhramar’ in Sanskrit. The Bhramari pranayama is called so because of the humming bee sound during exhalation which makes this breathing exercise different from other. This is one of the basic pranayama which are immensely helpful in maintaining physical and mental well-being.
This pranayama is practiced with ears being closed with the thumbs or index fingers, inhalation done through the nostrils and exhalation done through the mouth. Ears play an important role in generating vibrations while exhaling and these are channelized to be beneficial to different parts of the body.
Steps to Bhramari Pranayama
1/7. Sit in a cross legged position you are comfortable with on the floor. You can even sit on a chair, if sitting on floor is not possible.
2/7. Keep the spine upright and without any strain or tension. It should be easy and comfortable. You can sit on a cushion to keep the spine straight.
3/7. Close the eyes and stay in the position for some minutes, breathing normally through nostrils and exhaling through mouth. Keep the upper and lower lips and teeth a little apart so as to let the air out. Draw your focus to inwards towards the breath. This will help you in getting into the pranayama.
4/7. Use the thumbs of both hands to block the ears. The thumbs are to be placed on the cartilage connecting ear and cheek. Some people make use of index fingers while doing this exercise.
The other fingers of the hand can rest on the face in the following formation…
Index fingers can be placed gently on the closed upper lid of the eye. Middle fingers can rest on the sideways of nose. Ring finger can be rested on the gap between nose and upper lip. Little finger can be kept below the lower lip. All of these fingers should be gently placed and without exerting pressure. Some yoga practitioners call this hand placement as Shanmukhi Mudra.
5/7. The closure of the ear canals with thumbs and closure of eyes, the objective is to stop receiving stimulus from external environment so that whole attention can be drawn inwards to focus on the breath and feeling the accompanying sensations while doing this practice.
6/7. Inhale gently, steadily and deeply using the nostrils. With lips a little apart, exhale the air steadily and, at the same time, make a humming bee sound (h-m-m-m-m-n-n-n) from the back of the throat. This sets off vibrations in the whole region of throat, neck, tongue, ears and head. Feel the resonance.
When, during the exhaling process, if the tongue is rolled back in, it is said to be in Khechri Mudra.
7/7. Repeat the cycle of breath a few times. Observe the vibrations and how energy moves within the body. Feel the vibrations in the head and how these are having a calming influence on the brain.
Time and Duration of the Practice
There is no limit to doing this exercise. However, it is suggested to do at least 6 cycles of inhale-exhale.
This can be done any time during the day or before sleeping at night. It should not be practiced immediately after having meals. A gap of about 3 hours should be there.
While doing the other exercises, yoga poses or pranayama, this is best practiced at the end so as to gain a completely relaxed state of mind.
Benefits of Bhramari Pranayama
The science behind Bhramari Pranayama- Bhramari pranayama is said to increase the levels of nitric oxide gas in the body by as much as 15 times. Nitric oxide molecules play a very important role in our body. It increases the blood circulation by dilatation and releasing the spasm of blood vessels. It is present at cellular level and helps in better neural transmission which improves our memory. It has direct effect on the process of ageing, reproduction and obesity regulation. By controlling hormone secretion which affects prolactin, catecholamine, cortisol and insulin resistance, it is able to make organs perform their optimal functions. So, if there is good amount nitric oxide present in the body, it achieves wellness and revitalises our body. Bhramari breathing exercise is said to help achieve this increase. Some of the important advantages of Bhramari are…
1/9. It is an excellent stress relieving exercise.
2/9. Reduces the level of blood pressure and is, therefore, helpful in case of hypertension.
3/9. It removes tension in cerebral muscles and nerves as its vibrations stimulate the brain.
4/9. It also stimulates the pineal and pituitary glands of the body.
5/9. The practice of this pranayama is also known to remove anger from the persona of the person and the person becomes less agitated and more stable in behaviour.
6/9. It is also believed to be good in cases of insomnia, a condition in which the person is not able to sleep, as it induces sleep. Therefore, it is said that it shall be practiced before sleeping. For insomnia, a low-pitched sound should do the needful.
7/9. Practice of this pranayama is helpful in preventing the infection or congestion of the nasal passage. A medium to high-pitched sound is considered to be good for clearing the nasal passages.
8/9. For treating thyroid issues, Bhramari should be done with a medium-pitch sound and the vibrations thus produced should be directed to the throat region.
9/9. Regular practice of Bhramari Pranayama is helpful in stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system which brings peace to mind by reducing stress levels. This breathing exercise is able to reduce the blood pressure due to the dilatation of blood vessels which allows normal flow of blood. This enables a person to have a health heart and mind. This also leads to sound sleep.
Practicing this with mindfulness further adds to the health gains as focus is improved which in-turn can improve productivity.
Precautions and Contraindications
Certain precautions and contraindications while doing Bhramari are helpful in preventing any problem. These are…
1/5. You have to place the thumb on the tragus but should not try to press it too hard.
2/5. The ideal time to practice this is before the sunrise in morning.
3/5. The lips have to be kept closed gently during the practice.
4/5. People with any problem in their ear should avoid doing it.
5/5. It is a good idea to avoid doing it if you are not able to make yourself comfortable with the vibrations which arise due to exhalation sound.