In a fast-paced world full of digital distraction and endless demands on our time and energy, more and more people are living with chronic stress and anxiety.
The causes of mental health issues are varied and complex, but if you feel stressed or anxious, Bhramari Pranayama is a powerful, yet simple, breathing technique that you can use any time. Translated from Sanskrit as ‘bumblebee breath, Bhramari weaves breathwork, meditation and vocal sounds together to quickly change your state of mind and calm the nervous system.
How to practice Bhramari Pranayama
No warm up is needed before Bhramari. It’s a wonderful technique to include at the beginning of your yoga or meditation practice, or as a standalone practice.
1. Find a comfortable seated position.
- You could choose to sit on the floor or on a chair. If you sit on the floor it’s best if your hips are a little higher than your knees to protect the joints from rotating too much — so sit on a cushion or yoga block (or two). If you sit on a chair, make sure your feet can rest comfortably on the ground and the edge of the chair just touches the backs of your knees.
2. Close your eyes and take a few moments to settle in.
- Observe the breath. Notice any sensations you feel and watch the thoughts that drift in and out of your conscious mind.
3. Place your index fingers on your ears and press gently to close them.
- Your thumbs can rest on your chin or jaw. Take a deep, steady inhale.
4. On the exhale, make a loud humming sound with your voice — but keep your mouth closed as you do so.
5. Repeat for three to five breaths.
- Focus the awareness on the humming sound with each exhale, and experiment with different pitches to find a pitch (high or low) that feels most calming and grounding for you.
The Benefits of Bhramari
We’ve already touched on the key benefits of this pranayama practice as a tool to manage and reduce stress and anxiety. Additional benefits of Bhramari include:
- Lowers blood pressure
- Eases headaches Additional
- Reduces anxiety, tension and overwhelming emotions including anger
- Supports good heart health
- Improves concentration and memory
- Increases self-esteem, optimism and overall confidence — perhaps because of a sense of being more grounded in your own body
- Settles the mind chatter in preparation for meditation or yoga practice
Even better, there are no contraindications — bumblebee breath is, as far as is currently known, safe for everyone regardless of differences in physical or mental health.
The Strength of Bhramari
Sitting quietly and steadying yourself is, in itself, a powerful thing to do.
Add to that the experience of meditative sound, of internalizing your voice and feeling the vibrations of that sound through your whole body, and you get the sense, somehow, that you are exactly where you need to be.
Pranayama practices evoke different physical and emotional responses in different people. This means it’s impossible to tell you how you’ll feel when you try Bhramari — and there’s no right or wrong response.
Generally speaking, bumblebee breath feels like coming home to your body.It brings you back to your centre and reminds you that you are a complete being; that you have a huge capacity for calm.
The experience of closing the ears and humming helps to withdraw the senses from external stimulus and return you to yourself, focusing the mind and cutting out the distractions that make you feel frazzled.
This practice helps you understand that you can feel steady, and that you carry powerful tools for peace and stress relief everywhere you go.Because your breath and your voice are always with you, why not use them to help yourself?