How To Practice Bhramari Pranayama (Humming Bee Breath)

Pranayama is from the Sanskrit words “Prana” which means breath or vital life force and “Ayama” which means “to extend” or “to control”. It is a technique or practice in the yogic tradition of controlled breathing to extend the life force in the body. Pranayama is believed to be an important part of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras in Ashtanga Yoga. It is the fourth of the limbs mentioned in the sutras that provides guidance in living a meaningful life based on yogic teachings.

bhramari pranayama

The Prana is being transported in the body through the Nadis or channels. Through these channels, the Prana can flow in five different currents: Prana, Samana, Apana, Udana, and Vyan. These five currents are categorized based on where the flow is going.

The controlled breathing techniques involve muscles of the body and there are three main muscles the breathing exercises focus on: abdominal, thoracic, and clavicular. Abdominal breathing involves the muscles of the abdomen. Thoracic breathing involves the muscles in the middle part of the body including the thoracic cage. Clavicular breathing involves the upper part of the lungs and the clavicles.

Before learning the specific steps on different Pranayamas, one should first learn the steps involved in Pranayama in general. This includes inhaling or Puraka, exhaling or Rechaka, and holding of breath called Kumbhaka which could be an Antaray Kumbhaka which is holding of breath before exhaling or Bahya Kumbhaka which is holding of breath before inhaling.

Bhramari Pranayama is also known as the Humming Bee Breath. This is a calming breathing technique and is called as such because of the humming sound it produces at the back of the throat during the practice, which sounds like the humming of a bee. This Pranayama came from the Sanskrit word Bhramaraka which means “bee” or “honey”. It is also linked to the word “Bhanvra” in Hindi which is a large black bee found in India. It is an effective breathing technique to use before meditating. It can be practiced at any time of the day, although it is recommended to be done in the early morning.

Precautions Before Doing Bhramari Pranayama

On practicing any Pranayama, make sure that it is under the guidance of a guru or teacher. Individual who has any illness should consult a doctor before starting the practice. Bhramari Pranayama should be done in an empty stomach. It should not be practiced by individuals suffering from heart problems. It should also be avoided by people with extreme high blood pressure or heart ailments, or someone with an ear problem.

If there is dizziness, stop the practice and breathe normally. During the practice, do not insert the fingers inside the ear. Gently press the cartilage and don’t put pressure on the face.

How To Do Bhramari Pranayama with Traditional Shanmukti Mudra

  1. Sit in a comfortable position. Use recommended Asanas in doing the Bhramari Pranayama.
  2. Elongate the spine and close eyes. Be aware of the surroundings.
  3. Lift hands and gently place the thumbs on the tragus or the small pointed cartilage in the ear.
  4. Put both point fingers and the index fingers over the closed eyes.
  5. The Ringer fingers should be on the sides of the nose and pinky fingers on the lips.
  6. Breathe in through the nose with mouth closed.
  7. Exhale slowly and gently through the nostrils while making a soft humming sound at the back of the throat.
  8. The cycle can be repeated between 6-10 breaths.

This can also be practiced with another variation of the Shanmukti Mudra, which is called the “Helmet Mudra”. The steps are the same as above, except for the placement of the hands. For the “Helmet Mudra”, follow these steps:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position. Use recommended Asanas in doing the Bhramari Pranayama.
  2. Elongate the spine and close eyes. Be aware of the surroundings.
  3. Lift hands and gently place the thumbs on the tragus or the small pointed cartilage in the ear.
  4. Put the pinky finger on the hairline and the rest of the fingers on top of the head.
  5. The three middle fingers should touch the fingers on the opposite hand.
  6. Breathe in through the nose with mouth closed.
  7. Exhale slowly and gently through the nostrils while making a soft humming sound at the back of the throat.

Benefits of Bhramari Pranayama

This breathing technique promotes blood circulation. It has a calming effect and helps the mind to focus. It is a good Pranayama prescribed by physicians to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders. Because of blood circulation, it helps in maintaining blood pressure, reduce anger and decrease chances of heart attacks.

The calming effect of this Pranayama is also good for individuals with sleeping problems. Good practice in the evening before sleeping, it helps improve sleep with the low-pitch humming sound it produced and by quieting the mind. The sound produced also helps the individual develop positivity and spiritualism.

Indian medicine also recommends this breathing technique to prepare pregnant women in giving birth. When practiced regularly, it makes the childbirth easy for the pregnant woman.

Bhramari Pranayama helps alleviate headaches and migraines. It also helps in cooling the body and improves the functions of the pituitary and pineal glands. Body tissues are also assisted in healing and it helps strengthen the throat and its muscles.

Recommended Asana for Bhramari Pranayama

1. Padmasana or the Lotus Pose

Sit on comfortably on the floor with crossed legs. The right foot should be placed on the left thigh and the left foot on the right thigh. Pull the feet closer to the body while the heel is facing upwards while knees are touching the ground.

2. Vajrasana or the Thunderbolt Pose

Kneel while keeping legs together and let the big toes cross each other. Lower the body so that the buttocks are resting on the heels. The heels should be slightly pointing outward. The thighs should be touching the calf.

3. Sukhasana or the Easy Sitting Pose

Sit comfortably on the floor with stretched out legs close together. Keep spine stretched and erect. Fold the left leg and pull it inside the right thigh. Fold the right leg and pull it inside the left thigh.