Tuesday, August 3, 2021

What's the buzz?


The world of yoga is immense, there is always something new to learn. I recently discovered that humming boosts immunity! Most of us know that gentle yoga practices build a strong immune system. You may be thinking, ok, but what does humming have to do with yoga? Well, here's the story. 

Brahmari, humming bee breath is a yoga breathing practice. Brahmari can help to balance the autonomic nervous system, and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms us down. Benefits in and of themselves, yet scientific research has found an added benefit to humming. It produces nitric oxide!

Nitric oxide (NO) is a molecule that’s produced naturally by your body, and it’s important for many aspects of your health. NO relaxes blood vessels, causing them to widen and increase circulation allowing blood, nutrients and oxygen to travel through the body effectively. NO is known to be antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial. Nitric Oxide is produced in the paranasal sinuses, a group of four air-filled spaces that surround the nasal cavity. Humming increases NO levels opening up airways and killing pathogens. I didn’t know any of this!

Let’s talk a bit about the practice of breathing in yoga, and its effects on our overall well-being. Yoga philosophy sees our breath as the physical manifestation of prana. Prana can be considered the lifeforce of the universe. Breath brings life to our being, without breath there is no life. Breath practices in yoga are called pranayama. One of the big benefits of pranayama is its ability to calm us down.

According to research studies mental health difficulties are a global issue. Psychological distress such as depression and anxiety are on the rise. One way we can take care of ourselves is through the practice of pranayama. The flow of breath regulates the movement of life force-prana in our bodies. Our breath keeps us alive and vibrant.

Pranayama is different than our natural breathing. It is the conscious, deliberate regulation of the breath. Pranayama can have a strong effect on the body and mind. Therefore, breathing exercises should be practiced with awareness. It is best to practice a couple of hours after eating or on an empty stomach. Always spend a few minutes afterwards in rest pose, this allows the nervous system to absorb the benefits of the practice.

Brahmari, humming bee breath, is appropriate for beginners. It is a simple exercise, practiced regularly it helps to boost immunity. Brahmari can have a significant impact on our physiological system. It reduces stress, induces calmness, enhances sleep, lowers heart rate and blood pressure, increases lymphatic circulation and creates new neural pathways in the brain. All of these promote health and well-being!

How to Practice

Sit tall in easy pose, sitting mountain, or in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Feel your seat upon the earth, let it be steady, stable and secure and your head lifted high towards the sky. Close your eyes. Soften the jaw. Choose a hand position.

1. One hand on the belly and one hand on the heart.

2. Cover your ears with your hands.

3. Close the ears with the thumbs and place the fingers on top of your head.

Relax your shoulders. With mouth closed, inhale through your nose, then exhale slowly and gently though your nose making a “hummmmm” sound. Pause, then inhale and repeat. Beginners should practice for 3 minutes working up to 5 - 10 minutes. Brahmari can be practiced several times a day if you feel you are coming down with a respiratory infection, sinusitis or are just feeling unwell.  

When doing this exercise, the vibrations you might feel are helping increase air circulation and the production of nitric oxide in your nasal and sinus cavities. The vibrations certainly feel like a buzz! Most of us associate humming with happiness and you may notice that it’s difficult to hum and feel bummed at the same time.

Happiness and health!