Humming Your Way to Relaxation
Humming a favorite tune makes us relax and feel cheerful. But to experience the full benefits of humming, it is suggested you practice a yoga breathing technique called Bhramari. This breathing practice derives its name from the Indian bee called Bhramari. The exhalation in this breathing technique resembles the humming sound of a bee. One of the benefits of this technique is the effect that it has on the autonomic nervous system (ANS). When we are tense the sympathetic branch, of the ANS nervous system activates our body’s “fight or flight” response. With this technique the exhalations are longer than the inhalations. This has a calming effect by stimulating part of the ANS called the parasympathetic nervous system.
You do not need to be musically gifted or be able to “carry a tune” to experience the wonderful benefits of humming.
Some of the possible benefits of humming include:
- Reduced levels of stress
- Lowered blood pressure and heart rate
- Increased levels of nitric oxide, a molecule that promotes healing and widens blood vessels.
- Improved air flow between the sinuses and the nasal cavity and improvement of the health of your sinuses
Steps to practice basic Bhramari (Bee breath):
- Sit comfortably in a quiet place. Take a few slow and deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. As you exhale feel your body relax.
- Close your eyes or rest your gaze on the floor.
- Keep your facial muscles relaxed, your teeth slightly apart, your lips lightly together and your jaw relaxed.
- Inhale through the nose and then, gently, exhale through the nose, making a low- to medium- pitched humming sound in the throat throughout the exhalation making a “Hmmmmm…” sound. This should not feel forced.
- Prolong the humming exhalation as long as it’s comfortable and you can inhale smoothly with ease.
- Notice the humming vibration on your tongue and the sinus area.
- If you feel agitated, stop the breathing and let your breath return to normal.
- Do this practice for about five breaths then return to your normal breathing.
- Take a moment to notice how you are feeling. Notice any changes in your breathing and mood.
Try it out, and let us know what you think!