Hum your way to better breath in just a few minutes each day
Of the many yoga breath exercises on offer to help maximize mental health and improve physical well being, Bhramari (Humming) Breath has to be both the easiest and the most potent.
Named after a variety of black Indian bumble bee (pictured), it simply involves taking a deep breath in through the nostrils followed by a long humming breath out. The humming can be loud or soft (even silent), high or low, vigorous or gentle. For additional enhancements, lips and/or teeth can be lightly pressed together, eyes and ears can be blocked and the nostrils partially closed by the fingers (in an ancient gesture known as shanmukhi mudra).
Breathing in and out of the nostrils (as opposed to the mouth) is highly beneficial to health because of the production of Nitric Oxide (NO) that occurs in the sinuses.
Sometimes referred to by medics as the 'miracle gas', NO is present in every cell of the body and is a key player in heart and hormone health. It also contributes to the destruction of viruses, parasitic organisms and malignant cells in the airways, regulates vasodilation (thus lowering blood pressure), inhibits inflammation and influences the secretion of a number of hormones, particularly adrenaline.
Nitric oxide is essential for neurotransmission, or cell communication with the brain. Memory, sleep, learning, the sensation of pain and many other processes are possible only with NO present.
And perhaps most importantly in this age of Covid 19, Nitric Oxide in the right doses has specifically been shown to inhibit the replication of the coronavirus.
The vibratory nature of humming combined with the structure of our sinus cavities has been scientifially proven to magnify the production of Nitric Oxide by at least 15-20%.
Humming also lengthens the exhalation, which in turn switches on the parasympathetic nervous system and induces relaxation and improved immune response.
It sounds ridiculously simple, but it would seem that science is coming to prove what the yogis of ancient times already knew: that by breathing in through the nostrils and out whilst humming, we can raise our NO levels and thus control, transform and rejuvenate our whole system, promoting optimum health.
Why not give it a try?
First published in 2020