Breath-work has been revered for centuries as a tool for wellbeing. Modern science now proves its powerful effects on our minds and bodies. This series highlights special breathing techniques that invigorate, relax and restore.
What is the humming bee breath?
Also known as brahmari – the Sanskrit word for ‘bee’ – the humming bee breath is a deeply relaxing breathing technique. It involves taking slow and steady breaths, while making a gentle humming sound, similar to that of a buzzing bee, on the exhale.
Humming bee breath is a wonderful technique for soothing the mind and body and calming anxiety. It’s a great way to stimulate the body’s vagal nerves, which play an important role in heartbeat regulation, breath rate and the optimal working of the digestive system. The vagal nerves are also a key part of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body’s relaxation response. Stimulating these nerves through methods such as humming, singing and chanting helps to relax the body and counterbalance the ‘fight-or-flight’ stress reaction.
Humming bee breath can be used as a daily relaxation technique, or to help counter feelings of stress and anxiety.
How to practice:
- Sit comfortably with your spine straight.
- Close your eyes and observe the natural rhythm of your inhale and exhale for a few breaths.
- Keeping the lips sealed, inhale through the nostrils then exhale making a slow ‘mmmm’ or humming sound, sustaining the sound throughout the length of the exhale. Continue to repeat in this same way. Keep your exhales slow and steady and notice where you feel the vibrations of the sound in your body.
- To deepen the sensation, you can gently press your thumbs or fingers on the tragus (the small cartilaginous protrusion of the outer ears near the gateway of the ear canal) as you practice this breathwork. This helps to block out external sounds and amplify the sound of your humming. Be careful not to place the fingers inside the ear canal.
- Continue to practice for as long as feels comfortable, extending this breathwork for several minutes if you enjoy it.
- When you are ready to finish, release the fingers from the ears if they were placed there and allow your breath to return to normal. Observe any effects of the breathwork. Then slowly open your eyes.