Bhramari Pranayama


Now let’s have some fun πŸ™‚ This pranayama is fun.

Bhramari is a female bee. Female bees make a high pitched humming vibrational noise as they fly. Turns out bees use vibrations to fly which is why their wings don’t need to be big enough to carry them through the air. They just vibrate themselves and fly on their vibrations. Maybe we can do the same!

In this pranayama we hum as we exhale with or without holding our ears shut, sending vibrations into our brain. (There is also a pranayama where you hum a deep resonating breath on the inhale which is more like the sound of a male bee.)

Breathing like this induces a meditative state, the vibrations of the sound soothe the mind and nervous system. This is also very stress relieving, can help relieve anger and anxiety, it lowers blood pressure, and even help one sleep better. In yoga belief it speeds up the healing of the body, and strengthens and improves your voice and throat area β€” your 5th chakra.

Typically this pranayama is done closing your senses, but it can also be done without closing up any senses.

We are going to begin by closing our senses with our fingers, and listen to our breath. In yoga philosophy your senses take a lot of energy that is why there is the practice of pratyahara which means sense withdrawal, by withdrawing from your senses you turn more energy inward for healing and rejuvenation. For example if you have a netflix marathon day where you lie on the couch and watch TV all day, you actually feel tired. That is because listening and watching took a lot of your energy. By pulling your energy away from your 5 senses you have more energy for other uses in your body; such as healing or accessing the higher regions of the thinking and wise decision making brain that often don’t get used to their full capacity.

Lets start with a natural brief hold after both the inhale and exhale this is known as Four Square Breathing:

  • Inhale slowly, hold briefly β€” maybe 4 or 5 seconds
  • Exhale even slower, hold briefly again. You will find it harder to hold your breath after the exhale than the inhale. This is normal.

Practice this for 5-10 rounds

Now repeat this with your senses closed up, this is called shanmukhi mudra:

  • Put your thumbs on your ears
  • Index fingers on your eyelashes
  • Middle finger touching the sides of your nose β€” this makes your body increase your nitric oxide production
  • Ring fingers touching under your nose
  • Pinkies under your lips, they may or may not touch.

As you listen to your breath β€” evaluate it.  Breathing with our ears closed makes our breath very loud in our head.

Make your breath smooth and even. Repeat the 4 square breathing exercise listening to your breath for 1-3 rounds (however long you can comfortably hold your arms up there). 

Closing our Senses – Pratyahara

  • There is an asana called nadanusandhana asana … in which you sit on a little cushion, with heels drawn up to your buttocks, feet flat on the floor, and elbows resting on knees – which you can sit in while practicing this to rest your arms and shoulders if you like.

This closing of your senses is like taking a nap β€” it is refreshing.

And lastly let’s add on the humming sound as we exhale, this is called Bhramari Pranayama.

Repeat the above breathing exercise with your senses closed up with your fingers, making a high pitched humming sound as you exhale through your nose. Try to make the humming sound more nasal-y than chesty, the sound is made in the back of the palate as if you were saying “numb”. You want to feel the vibrations from the humming move into your brain. The humming sound should be smooth and even and continuous for the duration of the exhale. The sound should be soft and mellow, like a bee buzzing.

This can be done plugging the ears only, I prefer the full sense withdrawal.

  • Inhale fully for about 5 seconds, pause
  • Exhale humming slowly and drawn out for about 10 seconds (the exhale should be about double the length of the inhale)
  • Pause briefly after you complete the exhale hum
  • Repeat 5-10x – In times of extreme stress or when healing is needed practicing this 10-30 minutes could be very helpful.

This is an excellent tool to have in your back pocket to shift your brain from stress and anxiety to relaxation. During times of anxiety, anger, or stress our brain and thoughts are hard to control, sending vibrations to the brain instantly gives you some control to pull away from the stressful thoughts

Brahmari – Humming bee breath and Vibrational Therapies

We store all memories or impressions in our brain and in our body tissues. Sometimes we don’t even remember what we store so they are not really memories. We store every experience in our body from blissful to traumatic, and many believe we also store experiences our ancestors had, which will also affect how we behave today.

Studies suggest up to 95% the things we think, say, and do as adults come from impressions in the first 6 years of our lives. They are unconscious behaviors, subconsciously programming us. We break the cycle by becoming conscious again. This requires cleaning out unwanted and unproductive memories and impressions, aka cleaning out your brain.

Brain cleansing in yoga philosophy is done with vibrational therapies. Vibrational therapies can be done through breathing, singing, chanting, yoga, prayer, and meditation β€” and even just listening to music. 

Vibrational techniques are designed to erase unwanted emotional impressions and replace them with experiences of love and joy. When one practices vibrational therapies studies have shown it can improve mood, reduce depression, and improve cognitive and brain functions.

This is why chanting is included in many yoga practices. Chanting has been found to significantly slow down brainwaves to the alpha state which is the brainwave classically seen in meditation and prayer, but also speed up delta brainwaves in other parts of the brain. 

Delta brainwaves have been proposed to act as inhibitors to outward distractions, delta brainwaves are active when we are internally focused or concentrating on something. Delta brainwaves increase neural plasticity. Neural plasticity is our ability to rewire our brain, whether to learn a new skill or to erase unwanted impressions and replace them with less armored feelings of joy and acceptance.

Delta waves are restorative for the brain and various organs in the body.

Chanting and vibrational therapies relax the nervous system, and deactivate the stress parts of the brain (the limbic system). And it turns out they improve telomere activity promoting longevity. 

Meditation and chanting alike both slow the mind to be at peace.

Brahmari is our pranayama to vibrate our body and brain literally shaking out the old impression and replacing them with new ones. Vibrational therapies help us to be more aware of our habitual thoughtless responses and instead respond with more awareness of how our thoughts, actions, and words affect us and those around us.

And now we know vibrating ourselves also lengthens our telomeres! 

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