Humming Bee Breathing
Updated: Jun 20
“Breathe in deeply to bring your mind home to your body.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
This week we are sharing a fabulous breathing technique that has many health benefits.
As we have said before the process of breathing is essential, but unfortunately it is often automatic; we do it without thinking. When we pay attention to our breathing and make it conscious, it is a fabulous tool for wellbeing.
Bhramari Breathing is also known as Humming Bee Breathing. Bhramari means “bee” in the ancient language of Sanskrit. The name comes from the humming sound that this breathing practice creates.
Bhramari Breathing is a yoga breathing technique that slows the pace of the breathing, shortens the in-breath and lengthens the out-breath. The humming stimulates production of nitric oxide in the sinuses and creates vibrations that generate brain waves.
Nitric oxide is a vasodilator. This means it helps relax and widen blood vessels. It is antimicrobial and it also has a role in the regulation of serotonin and dopamine – our feel good neurotransmitters. This explains many of the benefits of Humming Bee Breathing.
Humming Bee Breathing has been proven to have an immediate positive effect in reducing Systolic Blood pressure. It is reported to produce calm, release tension and bring down our stress levels. It also boosts the immune system.
A 2018 systemic review of the effects of Bhramari Breathing on health showed positive effects on the cardiovascular system, stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system producing the relaxation response, a beneficial effect on tinnitus and generation of gamma brainwaves.
Gamma brainwaves indicate that you are concentrating, they are seen in higher brain functioning such as learning, memory and processing.
Enhanced response inhibition and cognitive control was observed in participants during Bhramari Breathing. Response inhibition represents the ability to respond appropriately to sudden changes in the environment.
Studies have shown that the regular practice of Bhramari Breathing is effective in the management of chronic rhinosinusitis.
Finally, very recently and most importantly during the coronavirus pandemic, Bhramari Breathing has been shown to prevent coagulopathies and morbidity due to Covid-19 by enhancing the expression of Nitric Oxide and increased Carbon dioxide by extended exhalation.
Sit in a quiet comfortable spot where you will not be disturbed.
Sit tall with your spine straight
Close your eyes
Put your left thumb in your left ear and your right thumb in your right ear and wrap the palm of your hands over the crown of your head. If you feel uncomfortable putting your thumbs in your ears then simply press them to the tragus – the part of the ear that sticks out where the ears join your head. The aim is to block out external sounds.
Take a deep breath in through your nose using the diaphragm to fully inflate the lungs
Exhale slowly through slightly parted lips
As you exhale make a humming sound at the back of your throat.
Keep the ‘hmmmmmm’ sound as steady and even as you can. Aiming to sound like a Bee.
Allow the humming to resonate through your whole head.
Allow your body to relax releasing any tension in the head, neck and shoulders
Do this for 5-10 breath cycles
Regular Bhramari Breathing is a great healthy ritual to weave into your day with many benefits for physical and mental health.
For more about breathing which is a core wellbeing skill see ‘How to Rise – A Complete Resilience Manual’ from Sheldon Press. It takes you on a journey of self-discovery; it shares over 60 tools and techniques, including meditations with purpose, visualisation exercises and practical tools to help improve your mental wellbeing, reduce anxiety and allow you to take control of your life
 Eby GA. Strong humming for one hour daily to terminate chronic rhinosinusitis in four days: A case report and hypothesis for action by stimulation of endogenous nasal nitric oxide production. Med Hypotheses 2006;66:851-4.  Samiksha Sathe, Kirti Thodge, Tejal Rajandekar, Anshu Agrawal (2020.) To Find Out Immediate Effect of Bhramari Pranayama on Blood Pressure, Heart Rate and Oxygen Saturation in Hypertensive Patients. International Journal of Current Research and Review.  Kuppusamy M, Kamaldeen D, Pitani R, Amaldas J, Shanmugam P. Effects of Bhramari Pranayama on health - A systematic review. J Tradit Complement Med. 2017;8(1):11-16. Published 2017 Mar 18.  Rajesh SK, Ilavarasu JV, Srinivasan TM. Effect of Bhramari Pranayama on response inhibition: Evidence from the stop signal task. Int J Yoga. 2014;7(2):138-141.  Abishek K, Bakshi SS, Bhavanani AB. The Efficacy of Yogic Breathing Exercise Bhramari Pranayama in Relieving Symptoms of Chronic Rhinosinusitis. Int J Yoga. 2019;12(2):120-123. Taneja MK. 2020 Modified Bhramari Pranayama in Covid 19 Infection. Indian J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2020 Sep;72(3):395-397.