Bhramari Pranayama or Bumblebee Breath is a calming breath practice that can be performed anywhere. Bhramari is derived from the Sanskrit term for “bee.” This breath practice is named after a type of black Indian bee due to the bee-like buzzing sound produced during the exhale. This breath practice can relieve stress, agitation, and anger. It can also help to calm the body and mind before sleep.
If you have a hard time meditating or are new to the practice of meditation, Bhramari breath can also be a helpful tool. While practicing Bhramari breath you close your eyes, block your ears and make an audible humming sound. This can help to block out external distractions (like noisy traffic out your window!) and the humming can give you something to focus on while also helping to quiet any internal thoughts or mind chatter.
How to perform Bhramari Breathing:
- Find a comfortable seated position. Pranayama is often practiced seated on a cushion or blanket on the floor, cross-legged with the hips elevated above the knees. However, you may choose to sit in any comfortable seated position for this practice: sitting cross-legged on the floor, kneeling, sitting on a chair or even your bed.
- As you settle into your seat, close your eyes or lower your gaze. Notice the feeling of the ground, cushion, or chair beneath you and energetically ground down through your sit bones while lengthening through a long spine.
- Breath in and out through your nose. Relax your face and jaw, keeping the lips gently closed while allowing your teeth to remain separated.
- Gently press your pointer fingers on the cartilage of your ears just below your cheek bones, blocking out any external sound. Alternately, this breath could be practiced using Shanmukhi mudra (see below).
- Keeping your ears blocked, take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale through your nose. On your exhale, make a humming or buzzing sound.
- Continue for at least 6 cycles of breath, or as long as you like.
- After completing Bhramari breathing, take a few moments to sit in silence and allow yourself to breathe naturally.
While practicing Bhramari breath, notice if you can feel the vibration of your humming in your face. You may notice a vibrating sensation in your jaw, cheek bones, teeth, or maybe even on the surface of your skin. If you are having trouble feeling the vibration, try humming at a higher pitch. Practice balancing the effort of your hum that it is strong enough to feel the vibration but gentle enough to feel calming and relaxing.
Note: Please make sure to wash your to wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, before and after touching your face.
Shanmukhi mudra is a hand position that represents closing the six gates of perception. In this hand position the ears, eyes, nose, and mouth are symbolically closed. To use Shanmukhi mudra during Bhramari pranayama, close your eyes. Use your thumbs to block your ears. Place your index fingers over your closed eyelids, your middle fingers on either side of your nose, your ring fingers just above your closed lips, and your pinky fingers just below your lips. If using Shanmukhi mudra during this breath practice, do not block your nose or hold your breath. Make sure that your hands are positioned in a way that allows you to comfortably and continuously breath in and out through your nose.
Author: Kayla Furbish, RYT-200