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An Incredibly Calming and Strengthening Breathing Practice: Bhramari Pranayama

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There are two wonderful breathing techniques that I’m now trying to practice for a few minutes every day.  One of these is bhramari pranayama, which means, “humming bee breath control” in Sanskrit.

If practiced regularly, this calming breath can relieve stress and cerebral tension, reduce anger and anxiety, improve sleeping patterns, and lower blood pressure. It also strengthens the throat muscles, which will alleviate regional ailments and improve the voice.

In fact, part of the reason I decided to regularly practice bhramari is from experiencing recurring vocal strain from teaching multiple classes a day.  It’s easy to forget that our vocal chords are muscles that need strength training, too!  I’ll let you know how my new routine helps.

So, how to practice this amazing, mood boosting and voice nurturing technique? It’s simple and can be practiced by just about everyone at anytime!

  1. Sit in a comfortable, upright position. This can be on the floor with the support of a blanket, pillow, or yoga block.  Or, sit in a chair with good posture.
  2. Use thumbs to plug the ears by gently pressing the earflaps. This subtle gesture allows us to be more in-tune with the healing sound vibrations in the head.
  3. Optional – use the index and middle fingers to lightly cover the eyelids (see photo).
  4. Inhale through the nose and exhale slowly and with control while making a steady humming sound.

The sound should be smooth and even feeling.  Its vibrations should be felt in the in the front of the skull and even in the sinuses.  These vibrations literally massage the nervous system and throat muscles. Keep humming until the end of the breath. At this point, take a slow and even breath through the nose and hum again.

Start with 5 to 10 rounds. Overtime, practice for 5 to 15 minutes.  And, be sure to maintain that nice posture!

And what about the second breathing practice I’m trying to do every day? Check back soon!

Sophie Herbert is an alignment focused yoga teacher (and perpetual student), a singer-songwriter, and a visual artist. She has lived, studied, and volunteered extensively in India; teaches yoga in Brooklyn and Manhattan; and recently released her first full-length album, "Take a Clear Look." Please visit her website at SophieHerbert.com.

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