Humming Our Way To Better Health
The Yogic Breathing Exercise of humming is called ‘Brahmari’ or Bee Breath. As implied the sound is like that of a bee and it creates a healing vibration in the body. This brilliant breath exercise benefits the body by increasing Nitric Oxide. Humming also calms the mind due to the mind/body connection cultivated by sound vibration.
“With regular practice of this pranayama (Bhramari) bliss arises in the yogi’s heart”. (Hatha Yoga Pradipika)
” Nitric oxide plays an important role in vasoregulation (the opening and closing of blood vessels), homeostasis (the way in which the body maintains a state of stable physiological balance in order to stay alive), neurotransmission (the messaging system within the brain), immune defense, and respiration. It helps to prevent high blood pressure, lower cholesterol, keep the arteries young and flexible, and prevent the clogging of arteries with plaque and clots. All these benefits lower your risk of heart attack and stroke – two of the top three killers in America.” ~ The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown (page 59)
“The paranasal sinuses are major producers of nitric oxide (NO). We hypothesized that oscillating airflow produced by humming would enhance sinus ventilation and thereby increase nasal NO levels. Ten healthy subjects took part in the study. Nasal NO was measured with a chemiluminescence technique during humming and quiet single-breath exhalations at a fixed flow rate. NO increased 15-fold during humming compared with quiet exhalation. In a two-compartment model of the nose and sinus, oscillating airflow caused a dramatic increase in gas exchange between the cavities. Obstruction of the sinus ostium is a central event in the pathogenesis of sinusitis. Nasal NO measurements during humming may be a useful noninvasive test of sinus NO production and ostial patency. In addition, any therapeutic effects of the improved sinus ventilation caused by humming should be investigated.”
Humming Greatly Increases Nasal Nitric Oxide Eddie Weitzberg, and Jon O. N. Lundberg + Author Affiliations Read More: http://www.atsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1164/rccm.200202-138BC#.VhlGl2B5-bE
* Studies also show that humming helps increase airflow between the sinus and nasal cavities, which could potentially help protect against sinus infections:
The European Respiratory Journal found that humming resulted in a large increase in nasal nitric oxide, “caused by a rapid gas exchange in the paranasal sinuses.” Since reduced airflow plays a major role in sinus infections, the researchers suggested that daily periods of humming might help people lower their risk of chronic problems. ~ New York Times 12/20/2010
Anxiety is associated with short, tight upper-chest breathing while relaxation comes with slower diaphragmatic breaths. Lengthening exhalations relative to inhalations reduces the ‘fight or flight’ impulse and maintains a healthy level of carbon dioxide in the blood. This brings on a relaxation response. Brahmari soothes a spinning or restless mind and the practice lengthens the exhalations without excessive strain. It can be used daily to encourage relaxation or as an easy remedy whenever needed.
To practice Brahmari Pranayama sit comfortably and lengthen upward through your spine. Be aware of keeping the shoulders and face relaxed. Start by mentally following a few natural breaths and close your eyes if the situation allows. Then, keeping the jaw and lips soft with the tongue resting on the roof of the mouth, inhale through the nose. Exhaling, make a humming sound while exhaling. Sustain the sound until you need to inhale. Then repeat: Inhale through the nose, then hum like a buzzing bee as you exhale. For optimum relaxation, sustain the humming sound for as long as comfortable but avoid forcing the breath beyond your capacity as this can have the reverse effect. Maintain a comfortable rhythm. When you are finished, sit quietly and observe your soft, effortless breath.