Bhramari Pranayama (humming bee breath) is one of the important and popular pranayamas. The word bhramari means ‘bee’ and the practice is so called because a sound is produced which imitates that of the bee. Bhramari induces a meditative state by harmonizing the mind and directing the awareness inward.
How to do Bhramari Pranayama (Humming bee breath)
- Sit in a comfortable meditation asana, preferably padm asana or siddha/siddha yoni asana with the hands resting on the knees in joana or chin mudra.
- Close the eyes and relax the whole body.
- The lips should remain gently closed with the teeth slightly separated throughout the practice. This allows the sound vibration to be heard and felt more distinctly.
- Raise the arms sideways and bend the elbows, bringing the hands to the ears. Use the index or middle finger to plug the ears or the flaps of the ears may be pressed without inserting the fingers.
- Bring the awareness to the centre of the head, where ajna chakra is located, and keep the body absolutely still. Inhale through the nose.
- Exhale slowly and in a controlled manner while making a deep, steady humming sound like that of the black bee. The humming should be smooth, even and continuous for the duration of the exhalation.
- The sound should be soft and mellow, making the front of the skull reverberate.
- At the end of exhalation, the hands can be kept steady or returned to the knee and then raised again for the next round. The inhalation and exhalation should be smooth and controlled. This is one round.
Variation: Nadanusandhana Asana (exploration of sound pose)
- Sit on a rolled blanket with the heels drawn up to the buttocks. Place the feet flat on the floor with the knees raised and the elbows resting on the knees.
- Plug the ears with the thumbs, resting the other four fingers on the head. This position gives increased stability without strain when practising for long periods of time as a preparatory practice for nada yoga, which uses subtle sound vibration to attune the practitioners with their true nature.
- 5 to I0 rounds is sufficient in the beginning, then slowly increase to I0 to I5 minutes.
- In cases of extreme mental tension or anxiety, or when used to assist the healing process, practise for up to 30 minutes.
Time of practice:
- The best time to practise is late at night or in the early morning as there are fewer external noises to interfere with internal perception.
- Practising at this time awakens psychic sensitivity. However, bhramari may be practised at any time to relieve mental tension.
Precautions while doing Technique I of Bhramari Pranayama – Humming bee breath
- Bhramari should not be performed while lying down. People suffering from severe ear infections should not practise this pranayama.
Technique 2: with Antar Kumbhaka (inner retention)
- Inhale slowly and deeply through the nose.
- Retain the breath inside with awareness at ajna or hindu.
- The exhalation should be as long as is comfortable to enhance the mind’s absorption in the humming sound.
Precautions while doing Technique 2: with Antar Kumbhaka (inner retention)
- People with heart disease must practise without breath retention.
- Inner retention should be gradually increased as it helps in increasing introversion and concentration. Do not strain when performing kumbhaka; one or two seconds is sufficient at first. The duration may be increased gradually as the technique is mastered.
Advanced practice: (addition of bandhas)
- Before applying the bandhas in this practice, they should be perfected as individual practices.
- Once antar kumbhaka has been mastered, jalandhara and moola bandhas may be incorporated.
- For details of these practices refer to the section on Bandha.
- The full form of jalandhara can be practised if the hands are returned to the knees between rounds. If the hands remain raised, plugging the ears, then practise the simple variation of jalandhara.
- Inhale for a long smooth breath.
- Practise jalandhara and then moola bandha during internal retention for a comfortable duration.
- Release moola bandha and then jalandhara bandha, and exhale through the nose. This is one round.
- Once the bandha can be held without strain, gradually build up the number of rounds.
Precaution while doing Advanced practice: (addition of bandhas)
- Do not practise pranayama with bandhas without the guidance of a competent teacher or guru.
- The word bhramari means ‘bee’ and the practice is so called because a sound is produced which imitates that of the black bee.
Bhramari Pranayama (Humming bee breath) Benefits
- Bhramari relieves stress and cerebral tension, and so helps in alleviating anger, anxiety and insomnia, increasing the healing capacity of the body. It strengthens and improves the voice. Bhramari induces a meditative state by harmonizing the mind and directing the awareness inward. The vibration of the humming sound creates a soothing effect on the mind and nervous system.
- Natural breathing
- Abdominal breathing or diaphragmatic breathing
- Thoracic breathing
- Clavicular breathing
- Yogic breathing
Types of Pranayamas
- Nadi Shodhan Pranayama (Psychic network purification)
- Sheetali Pranayama (Cooling breath)
- Sheetkari Pranayama (Hissing breath)
- Bhramari Pranayama (Humming bee breath)
- Ujjayi Pranayama (The psychic breath)
- Bhastrika Pranayama (Bellows breath)
- Kapalbhati Pranayama (Frontal brain cleansing breath)
- Moorchha Pranayama (Swooning or fainting breath)
- Surya Bhedi Pranayama (Vitality stimulating breath)