This week’s yoga focus is on the Brahmaree breathing technique. It is commonly referred to as the Bumblebee breath or Honeybee breath. It is a safe practice that is easy to learn and has tremendous health benefits.
By lengthening the exhalation in relation to the inhalation, this breath activates the parasympathetic nervous system. It takes us out of the fight or flight pattern that many of us get caught in, and returns the body to a relaxed state of healing. This practice also helps quiet the mind. The humming created during this breath drowns out the minds endless chatter.
To get started, find a comfortable seated position on the floor or in a chair. If you choose to sit on the floor and have tight hips, you may want to sit on a pillow or blanket to support your pelvis and help maintain the natural curve of the spine. if you have a week back, use the wall for support. If you choose to sit in a chair, sit forward on the edge of the chair, again keeping the natural curve of the spine, and placing your feet flat on the floor. If your feet don’t reach the floor, no worries. Place a couple of yoga blocks, a blanket, or some books under your feet for support.
Remember to keep your face relaxed and feel at ease during the practice. The breath is never forced. Although the buzzing sound is prolonged on the exhalation, only do so as long as it is comfortable. If at any time you need to return to your normal breathing, please do so. You can always come back to the practice.
Now that you’re in a comfortable sitting position, allow your eyes to softly close. Take a few normal breaths to calm the mind and settle into the practice. When you are ready, inhale. On the exhalation, make a low to medium humming sound in the back of the throat. Feel the sound gently vibrate within the throat, the sinuses, and throughout your head.
Continue this practice for 9 rounds. One round being an inhalation and extended exhalation while humming. Keeping your eyes closed, return to your normal breathing pattern and notice the difference in how you feel mentally and physically.
Once you are comfortable with the basic breathing technique, the next step is to curl your tongue. Again, inhale through the nose with your lips gently closed. As you exhale, either touch the tongue to the roof of your mouth or curl the tongue while your creating a humming sound in the back of your throat during the extended exhalation. Repeat this for 9 rounds. When done, keeping the eyes closed, again notice how you feel.
The third step of the practice, is to close off the external senses and bring our awareness inward. This is the yoga practice of pratyahara. To do this, place the thumbs over your ear flaps and with your eyes closed, your fingers over your eyes. Bring your elbows to shoulder height. With your eyes and ears closed, exhale through the nose while curling your tongue and making the humming sound in the back of your throat. Repeat this for 9 rounds. When finished, return to your normal breathing and notice how you feel.
The yoga tradition teaches that this breath can help quiet the mind, ease anxiety, reduce overactive behavior, relieve insomnia and reduce high blood pressure. To receive the full benefits of this this practice, i recommend practicing twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed. You may want to start for 3-5 minutes and work up to 15 or 20 minutes each session. Remember, a short time period every day is better than trying to fit in one long period once a week
As you become comfortable with this breath, you can experiment with low and high pitched humming sounds to see what feels better to you. You may also want to add in the traditional Shanmukhi mudra. This is where you place the thumbs over the flaps of the ears, the index finger lightly rests in the inner corner of the eye, the middle finger gently touches the sides of the nose, the ring finger is above the lips, and the pinky finger is below the lips. However, no matter which version of the breath you practice, you will receive tremendous results if your practice is consistent.
The video below takes you through the three phases of the practice. I hope you enjoy it!