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Pranayama and the humming bee breath

August 31, 2011

Bhramari Pranayama

I’ve always felt a strong connection to bees. My name, Deborah, means “bee” in Hebrew. And I’ve been stung (initiated?) by them 3 times, once after having the following song lyric to Regina Specktor’s song On the Radio stuck in my head: “A million ancient bees, began to sting our knees.” And wouldn’t you know it, that time the bee stung me right on the knee…

So on my recent trip to Iowa to visit my family, I listened to entirety of the audiobook The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd. It was, appropriately, a heart-warming story … appropriate because in yoga the space of the heart is considered “the cave of the bees.”

Bhramari Pranayama just so happens to be one of my favorite Pranayama techniques. Also known as the “Humming Bee Breath,” it is a simple and wonderful heart-opening yoga practice that effectively connects us to our heart space: the cave of the bees that is the seat of our soul.

This practice is excellent for speeding up the healing of body tissues, and is a quick and effective way of reducing stress and tension. It helps to quell anger, anxiety, insomnia, and high blood pressure. And, it helps to stimulate the thyroid and strengthen the voice.

The Practice:

  1. Begin sitting comfortably, with lips closed and teeth slightly opened. Make sure the jaw is relaxed.
  2. Raise the arms to the sides, bend the elbows, and bring the hands to the ears, plugging the ears with the index fingers or thumbs (I like to use my thumbs and then rest my fingers on my head).
  3. Keep the elbows wide and the spine lengthened, and bring the awareness to the heart.
  4. Keeping the body still, inhale fully through the nose, and while exhaling make a deep, steady humming sound like a bee for the duration of the exhale. This will significantly prolong the exhale, which is very calming to the nervous system!
  5. Focus on the sensation of the vibrations in the heart, throat, and head.
  6. Inhale and repeat. Practice 5-10 rounds.

Join me on First Friday for this Vino & Vinyasa Event, along with featured artist/fellow SA Current Blogger Elizabeth Chavez!

Debby Andersen is a Yoga Teacher/Healer in San Antonio. Sign up for Debby’s newsletter here to stay up to date on her current offerings.

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