Buzzing Bee Breath or Bhramari is a safe, easy-to-learn practice and has tremendous therapeutic potential. Like other pranayamas, its power comes partly from its effects on the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Lengthening the exhalation relative to the inhalation activates the calming parasympathetic branch of the ANS. For those who suffer from anxiety or insomnia this pattern of breathing can help.
Below we offer up three ways to practice Buzzing Bee Breath. Choose what feels comfortable and remember to never force anything.
Find a comfortable seated position, either on the floor or in a chair. If you choose to sit on the floor, place enough support under your pelvis so that your thighs angle down and you keep the natural curve of your lumbar spine. If you prefer a chair, scoot forward and sit at the edge of the seat so that your thighs angle down and your feet are flat on the floor. (If your feet don’t reach the floor, rest them on a couple of yoga blocks or even cushions)
Always balance effort and ease. Make an “HMMMMMMM” sound like a humming bee buzzing, but never force it. Keep your facial muscles loose, your lips lightly touching, and your jaw relaxed, with the upper and lower rows of teeth slightly separated. Prolong the buzzing sound on the exhalation as long as it’s comfortable and you can still inhale smoothly, without gasping for air. If you start to feel agitated, back off, and return to normal breathing.
Sit comfortably and allow your eyes to close. When you’re ready, inhale and then, for the entire length of your exhalation, make a low- to medium-pitched humming sound in the throat. Notice how the sound waves gently vibrate your tongue, teeth, and sinuses. Imagine the sound is vibrating your entire brain (it really is). Do this practice for six rounds of breath and then, keeping your eyes closed, return to your normal breathing. Notice if anything has changed. Repeat for as long as is comfortable
BHRAMARI WITH SHANMUKHI MUDRA (VARIATION)
One way to intensify the effects of Bhramari is to add shanmukhi mudra. Bhramari encourages pratyahara, the turning of the senses inward, so by blocking some of the external input to the senses with your fingers, you can heighten the effect. Try a simplified version first. Use your thumbs to push the bump of cartilage near the ear on the cheek side—to block the ear canal. Rest the other four fingers of each hand on the side to the top of the skull. Practice low- to medium-pitched Bhramari for six rounds of breath. When you’re finished, lower your hands and breathe normally.
BHRAMARI WITH SHANMUKHI MUDRA (TRADITIONAL)
Sit up straight and place your hands on your face with one thumb on each cartridge bump near where the ear meets the cheek. The index fingers lightly touch the inner corners of your eyes, the middle fingers rest on the face at the sides of the nose, the ring fingers above the lips, and the pinkies just below. Be sure to place only very light pressure on the eyeballs. Do six more low- to medium-pitched Bhramari rounds, lower your hands, and notice the effects.
There are many reasons why you may not enjoy the traditional methods of Bhramari. If it feels overly challenging try a different variation, be kind to yourself, and appreciate that self-guided breathing techniques should be gentle and feel great afterward.