I discovered Bee’s Breath, or Bhramari Pranayama, many moons ago when it was offered as a tool to help reduce my anxiety. Back then, before I began a regular yoga and breathing practice, sometimes “taking a deep breath” or even focusing on the breath at all wasn’t helpful or made things worse. However, in the first few moments of trying Bee’s Breath, my unhelpful mental thought-loop was literally drowned out by the humming sound I was creating, and its vibration immediately grounded me in my body. I started to feel calm right away, and return to this practice again and again for these benefits.
Bhramari is the Sanskrit word for “bee,” so this meditative breath exercise is named for the humming sound produced: like that of a bee, droning in the garden. As we’re exhaling and creating the droning sound, we’re also lengthening our exhalations – which in turn activates the parasympathetic nervous system, the side in charge of “resting, digesting, and healing.”
But wait, there’s more! I recently learned that humming could also improve immunity, by releasing a beneficial gas called Nitric Oxide into the system (NO.) NO is a critical component in the eradication of viruses.
Here’s how it works: Nasal NO levels increase dramatically during humming compared with normal quiet nasal exhalation. This effect is likely due to increased contribution of NO from the paranasal sinuses. Humming causes the air to oscillate, which in turn seems to increase the exchange of air between the sinuses and the nasal cavity.
However, to receive the full anti-viral and anti-bacterial benefits of NO, we need to inhale through the nose after the humming is finished, to draw the NO back into the respiratory tract via the bronchial passageways. Nitric Oxide is a free, naturally produced, anti-viral, anti-bacterial gas and can be made available at any time!
Bee’s Breath Potential Benefits
• Calms and quiets the mind
• Releases Nitric Oxide into the nasal passages, NO is naturally anti-viral and anti-microbial
• Improves immunity
• Increases lung capacity
• Initiates the “Rest, Digest, and Heal Response,” lowering heart rate, blood pressure, and calming nervous system
• May aid in loosening blockage from the sinuses
Bee’s Breath may also have a positive effect on tinnitus, bolster the health of the throat, and strengthen and improve the voice. Practicing for at least 5 minutes may help you achieve a more meditative state. Try it with me in the video below, and let me know how it goes.
How to Practice Bee’s Breath:
- Sit comfortably but upright, with a stable foundation to support you.
- You can rest one hand on the heart, another on the belly if you want to really feel the vibration of the hum.
- If it’s comfortable you could close your eyes, or gaze softly downwards.
- Gently close the lips, and try to keep the jaw relaxed throughout your practice.
- To begin, take a deep breath in through the nostrils.
- As you slowly exhale with the mouth closed, make a steady, low-pitched ‘hmmm’ sound at the back of the throat—like the humming of a bee. Focus on making the sound soft, smooth, and steady.
- When you inhale, be sure to breathe in through the nose, thus distributing the beneficial NO throughout the respiratory system.
- Continue for as many repetitions as you like. After the final exhalation, allow your breath to return to normal and observe any effects from your practice.
- Maybe you can even feel the vibration continue after you’ve stopped humming!
Let me know how it goes by typing your comments below or on the YouTube video‘s comment section.
• Effects of Bhramari Pranayama on health – A systematic review
• The Effect of Bhramari Pranayama (Bumblebee Breath) on Tinnitus
• Humming Greatly Increases Nasal Nitric Oxide
• Nitric oxide and redox mechanisms in the immune response