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Bhramari (Humming Bee) Pranayama


shanmukhi

The word ‘bhramari’ (भ्रामरी) refers to the humming sound made by a ‘bhramara’ (a bumble bee in Sanskrit). The Bhramari Pranayama consists in making a deep, soft humming bee-like sound while exhaling.

Because Bhramari Pranayama has a very calming effect on the nerves and the mind, it is usually practiced as a prelude to meditation. As a part of the pranayama routine, it should be practiced at the end of other pranayama practices, usually after the alternate nostril breathing (naadi shuddhi), prior to getting ready for meditation.

Bhramari Pranayama is also practiced as a part of the yoga tradition called Nada Yoga (yoga of sound). As the name implies, Nada Yoga uses the element of sound, both external and internal, to reach higher levels of consciousness. In the subtle stage of Nada Yoga, one listens to internal sounds allowing the perceived sound to arise spontaneously. The Bhramari Pranayama is used as a preliminary stage of the practice of Nada Yoga.

Shanmukhi mudra

Bhramari Pranayama is practiced while applying the Shanmukhi Mudra (also known as Yoni Mudra). The word ‘shanmukhi’ (शन्मुखी) is composed of two Sanskrit words – ‘shat’ (six) and ‘mukhi’ (mouths or gates). So the full name means the ‘six-gated mudra’. The six gates refer to the two eyes, two ears, nose and the mouth. The purpose of the Shanmukhi Mudra is to symbolically shut the mind from the five senses so the mind can maintain an inward focus in the state of pratyahara (sense withdrawal) and get ready for meditation.

To shut the senses, the thumbs are used to plug the ears, the index fingers are placed on the eyelids, the middle fingers on the two nostrils, the ring fingers above the upper lip and the little fingers under the lower lip. There is no effort to press tightly against these organs but a light pressure is applied with the thumbs and fingers. 

Step-by-step

  1. Sit in any comfortable, cross-legged meditation posture with the spine upright, arms and shoulders relaxed.
  2. Apply the Shanmukhi Mudra as explained above. Apply light pressure with the thumbs and the fingers against the various sense organs.
  3. Fix your mental focus at the third eye (Ajna Chakra), the spot between the eyebrows.
  4. Take a deep inhalation
  5. While exhaling, make a soft, humming sound. Try to keep the breathing deep and gentle so as to maximize the duration of exhalation without straining the breathing in any way.
  6. Repeat the cycle of inhalation followed by the humming exhalation ten times.
  7. At the end of the routine, you may continue with your own silent meditation.

Benefits

  • Bhramari causes the whole brain to vibrate. Vibration of the cerebral cortex sends impulses to the hypothalamus which has the capacity to control the pituitary gland- the master of all glands. The hypothalamus also sends impulses to the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. This helps tune the whole neuro-endocrinal system to function in a harmonious and synchronized way.
  • It calms the nervous system and brings in a mental state of calm and peace which is helpful in meditation.
  • It  helps in conditions of mental tension, high blood pressure, anxiety and heart-related problems.
  • By constant practice of Bhramari, the yogi’s mind is absorbed in bliss (Hatha Yoga Pradipika -2.68)
  • Here is an excerpt from an article that I came across recently. This article talks about the benefits of Bhramari for pregnant women based on research findings on several participants. The same benefits are applicable to all who practice this pranayama technique.
    "… bhramari done for a few minutes daily can alleviate anxiety and tension. Vibration of the brain sends impulses to the reticular formation which eliminates anxiety and improves the mood, behavior and personality, so that the expectant mother may take care of her health and nutrition, leading to proper growth and development of the fetus. During labor, elimination of anxiety makes the mother co-operative and less apprehensive, thus facilitating easy delivery. " You can read the full article here.

Contraindications

There are no contraindications for this practice. Anyone who can breathe can practice Bhramari for great benefits.

 

67 comments to Bhramari (Humming Bee) Pranayama

  • veena

    Can Brahmari pranayam be done lying down on your back before going into savasana?

    • admin

      Dear Veena,
      Thanks a lot for visiting my website. Even though I have not practiced Bhramari in a lying down position, I don’t see why it can’t be done that way. Bhramari is suppoed to calm the mind down and it should be OK to do it just before going into Shavasana.

  • veena

    Thank you for your quick response-

  • Chirag

    Hello Sir , i want to get rid of my eye glasses and make my number close to zero ,is it possible by doing Bhramari pranayam 10 to 15 times daily or work out with 10 to 15 mins daily . i have come around some people saying they have solved the eye problem upto 100% satisfaction / with zero number clearity … Sir can you plz guide with this problem ?
    Thank you,
    Chirag bhosale.

    • Subhash

      Hello Chirag,
      Thank you for visiting my blog. I know that Bhraamari can help with eyesight but I haven’t seen any research which says that you can completely cure your vision. I have written a blog post (http://yogawithsubhash.com/2010/01/22/yoga-for-eye-care-a-7-step-program/ ) on eye care and I strongly suggest that you go through that post and follow the guidelines given there. I have seen some reports which claim that by following similar guidelines as what I have given, people have benefitted a lot as regards their vision. I wish you all the best. I hope to hear back from you with your progress.
      – Subhash

  • Deepa Christopher

    Hello Sir,

    In my right ear, sometimes I feel like air is blowing in and out. And this makes me feel very uncomfortable. I checked with one of the YOGA doctors, they aksed me to practice Shanmukhi Mudra. I am practicing it right now, but the blowing of air still persists. Could you please let me know would practicing this mudra, reduces my problem or else are there any other asanas i can practice to completely get rid of this.

    • Subhash

      Dear Deepa,
      Thanks a lot for visiting my blog. As for your symptoms, I really have no experience with your specific situation. As such it is hard for me to tell whether shanmukhi mudra would help or not. The practice of various pranayama techniques is supposed to be helpful with many of the ailments related to ear, nose and throat area. The only other technique that I can think of is the twirling around yourself which is supposed to help with the inner ear balance and with the health of the ears in general. In this technique, you start in the standing position with the arms stretched out in line with the shoulders. Turn your neck to look over the right shoulder and fix your gaze at the middle finger of the right hand. Then start twirling around yourself at a comfortable, steady pace. You may start with about ten rounds and slowly over a period of a few days, build up to 21 circles. When you come to a stop, continue to look at the middle finger of the right hand until the room and the surroundings also come to a stop. Let me know if this proves of any help. Thanks.

  • Deepa Christopher

    Thanks a lot Subhash Sir. Its so kind of you to reply so quickly and advise me on one more technique. I would start doing it from today and let you know the results after few days.

  • Mallikarjuna

    Sir,

    I have been advised by my doctor to include Bhramari as one of the daily exercises to help with my border-line high blood pressure.

    I find the exercise very calming and resonant. But I have a question on the practice.

    When I place my ring fingers under the nostrils, the sense of vibration is much more stronger, powerful and resonant while exhaling with ‘hmmmmm’ sound. This feels very good. But I find inhaling more difficult because the fingers partially block the nostrils. What should I do?

    Thank you very much for your response and advice.

    • admin

      Dear Mallik, thanks for your note. As there a few different ways to practice bhramari, could you please describe the technique that you are following for your practice? Thanks.

  • Bhramari does lower blood pressure so people with pre-existing low blood pressure can get dizzy with the practice. Otherwise very fine practice!

    • admin

      Thanks, Wendy, for your comment. You are making an interesting observation and I would like to know if you have some scientific studies in this connection.

  • vinay pandit

    dear sir,
    in my personal practise i have also concluded that while doing brahmri the arm should be at right angles with the torso. this stretches and relaxes the back muscles i.e the trapezius and latissimus dorsi.
    also, removing muscle spasms and knots, t facilitates the ascension of kundalini. please keep the good work going and put up more spiritual posts.
    thanks and best regds,

    • admin

      Thanks for this additional insight, Vinay. Such information can be really helpful for the visitors of the site. The only potential problem with keeping the arm at right angle is that after a few rounds the arm may begin to tire out.

  • Anusha

    Dear Sir,
    My husband has been asked to practice Brahmari 54 times by his voice culture specialist. I have been doing yoga with a yoga instructor regularly and we do not do it more than 5. After 2 days of Brahmari he says that his throat feels hollow and is painful. Is it ok to continue like this?. Thanks for the post.

    • Dear Anusha, I apologize for not getting back to you earlier. In yoga practice, one of the guidelines that we follow is to never stretch yourself beyond your own comfort zone. We may need to challenge ourselves sometimes but not to the point where the practice is hurtful. My recommendation will be to practice only as many rounds of bhramari as feels comfortable. Once you practice on a regular basis, your capacity will keep on increasing. try to make steady progress. Please let me know how it is going now.

      • Anusha

        Dear Sir,
        Thanks for your immediate response. As u said my husband practices like 15-20 brahmaris per day as he feels comfortable and is not exhausted doing them. And, he is doing aerobics to increase his lung power. It is doing great wonders to his voice. Once again thanks for your help.

        • Dear Anusha, I am so glad to see that your husband has been able to do 15-20 bhramaris per day and that he is feeling more comfortable with it. I wish him continued success with his voice capability.

  • Sita Ram

    I feel more effective when i close the ears and nostrils after breathing in and release them while breathing out.
    Is this a good practice.

    • Dear Sita Ram, for the Bhramari pranayama to be effective, the nose and ears should be lightly closed during exhalation while you are making the humming sound. The idea is to shut out all external influences and focus entirely on the experience of the sound vibration of the humming breath. I hope this helps.

  • rita

    Dear Subhash Sir,

    After I practice Bhramari and close my ears for few seconds, I fell cool water flowing like feeling in my ears. Is this a good effect or am I not doing it right.
    Thanks
    Rita

    • Dear Rita, everyone can have a slightly different experience as a result of different pranayama practices. As long as you don’t feel uncomfortable, you should just welcome and enjoy every experience.

  • rajan

    Hello sir,
    im having mild varicocele since 10 yrs which is asymptomatic and cause pain only when i do exercise and yoga,i want to do yoga as it keeps me fit but it causes me pain of varicocele.I read ur article about bhramri which is very helpful,can u pls tel me some yog asana which wil not cause me pain of varicocele

    • Dear Varun,
      varicocele is an uncommon condition and I do not have any personal experience helping anyone with this condition. So, unfortunately, I am not in a position to recommend asanas that you may or may not practice. If you can provide the list of asanas you already practice, I will be glad to do some research before making any recommendation one way or the other. Wishing you all the best,

  • sukant singh

    Sir,
    I can not sit in normal yoga posture (PALTHI)for more than 2-3 mins after that it starts hurting and even in that posture my back does not remain eract. Please suggest any other assan or sitting posture.

    Yours Faithfully

    Sukant Singh

    • Dear Sukant,
      Inability to sit in cross-legged posture (sukhasana) is caused by tightness in hips and knees. This tightness can be reduced by a regular practice of yoga asanas. Some of the asanas that may be specifically helpful are: butterfly (Titali pose) both half and full version, trikonasana, parivritta trikonasana, getting into a chair pose with the back resting against the wall, reclining twist etc. I wish you all the best.

  • James

    Hi, i was just wondering if Bhramari can be done without the mudra or is the mudra required? Because i see some yogi’s teaching people Bhramari without the mudra. Thanks.

    • Certainly, Bhramari can be done without the mudra. However, the Shanmukhi mudra is recommended because it brings about the state of Pratyahara wherein the mind can be disengaged from the five senses thus enhancing the experience of the humming sound.

  • James

    Hi again, i practice 100 repetitions of bhramari every morning and wanted to know if this is good or should i reduce the number?

  • James

    I also wanted to know that when practicing Bhramari do i need to place my tongue at the roof of my mouth or is it not required?

  • Hi James,
    How long does it take you to do the 100 repetitions? Are you doing this under the guidance of a teacher? I am a little surprised at the number 100 as it seems a little excessive. I am not able to give you a specific recommendation as I don’t know why or how you started doing these many repetitions.
    As for keeping the tongue at the roof of the mouth, that is an optional technique (called Khechari Mudra) and can be safely done along with the Bhramari practice.

  • James

    Hello again, thank you for your reply. It takes me about 15 mintues to do 100 repetitions and i am not training under a teacher.

  • James

    I actually had one last question, can i practice Bhramari and still get benefit without doing other pranayama first? Or is other pranayama required?

    • I normally recommend that we should include these few basic pranayama techniques in our daily practice – kapalabhati, bhramari, deep three-part yogic breathing, and alternate nostril breathing (aka naadi shuddhi or anuloma-viloma). Each of these techniques offers a different set of benefits. So a combination will provide optimum results.

  • James

    What results can be gained from doing Bhramari alone?

  • James

    I have been practicing Brhamari by itself for a short time now and wanted to know what it’s benefits would be. Thank you.

  • Bhramari is supposed to calm the nerves and the mind. I practice 5 rounds of Bhramari just prior to my meditation as it seems to settle the mind to some extent.

  • James

    I read on the internet that without practicing pranayama prior to practicing Bhramari that Bhramari would bring no desired benefit, but you suggest that Bhramari will bring results even without doing pranayama first?

  • James

    Some results atleast?

  • Hi James,
    As you can guess, everyone’s experience from a given practice could be different depending upon individual in-born tendencies. as I suggested earlier, it is best to practice bhramari in conjunction with other pranayama practices. However, by itself, it can help calm the mind and the nerves.

  • Antonio

    Hi sir, a few days I started my readings on Eastern view and the like, and just to know that I recognize that many things happen to me comes from the imbalance of the chakras. And somehow I was starting with the solar plexus. The sir. considered a good way to start?
    And how can it be proven the existence of these chakras as organ supraphysical?

    • Dear Antonio, I am glad that you have started your readings of the Eastern philosophy. The concept of chakras has been in existence for thousands of years. I don’t know of a scientific way to prove the existence or otherwise of the chakras. In general I prefer to go with the wisdom of the ancient yogis who came up with these concepts after being in prolonged state of deep meditation. I think the best is to follow their guidelines and enjoy the experience.

  • Respected Shri Subhashji,

    Your Bhramari (Humming Bee) Pranayama method is simply superb. Your illustration is just like a live demonstration to any one keen to practice pranayam

    Thanks a ton.

    Regards,

    N.K. Ramani

    • Dear Ramani, I am truly grateful to you for taking the time to go over many of the posts on different aspects of yoga and providing your most valuable feedback. It is gratifying to know that you find the material useful.

  • James

    Hi Subhash, i just wanted to ask that if i do not include shanmukhi mudra but practice Bhramari enough can i gain prayahara?

  • James

    Hi Subhash, i just wanted to ask that if i do not include shanmukhi mudra but practice Bhramari enough can i gain the state of Pratyahara?

  • Hello James, is there a reason why you would like to avoid the shanmukhi mudra? The shanmukhi mudra a symbolic representation of the state of pratyahara and is supposed to aid in getting to that state. However, if you don’t use the mudra and just focus on the sound of bhramari, I think you should still be able to get into the state of pratyahara. My feeling is that it might be a little harder to stay focused on the sound without the mudra.

  • James

    Hi there, i wanted to ask if practicing brahmari can grant enlightenment?

    • Hi James,
      Enlightenment can be attained only when the effect of all “samskaras” (past latent impressions) have been nullified. According to Patanjali that can be achieved when the mind is made free of all fluctuations. Can Bhramari take you there? I don’t know!

  • frank

    Hi subhash my. Frank name is I want to know if there is any video to practice the bhramari to calm my mind and nerves because I have.been in turmoil for long time but because I practice meditation I notice some changes even I am confuse at times Wich meditation to practice and if I do practice the bhramari whit is the sequence breathing you inhale thrum your mouth or nose and how you make humming bee sound thrum your nose or mouth any would bee appreciate thank you

    • Hello Frank,
      Unfortunately, I don’t have a video for the Bhramari practice on my website. I am sure if you did a google search, you will find some useful demos. The humming sound is just like you would make when you are humming the tune of a song you like. So, the breathing is still through the nose (both inhalation and exhalation). The humming sound is generated by constricting the passage of the breath at the back of the upper palate. Hope this helps.

  • james

    Hi again Subhash, i wanted to know that if i’m practicing anjali mudra, do i need to keep a perfectly straight spine or will it have no effect if i do not?

    • Hi James, for most yoga activities, especially pranayama and meditation, it is highly recommended that you maintain a straight and vertical spine. The only guideline is that despite the effort to keep the spine straight, no strain should be felt. So, you should make any adjustment to the position that will keep it straight and yet comfortable. hope this helps.
      Subhash

  • james

    How long should i generally practice anjali mudra for? is 10 minutes three times per day enough?

  • Hi James,
    To help me provide a good answer, can you please describe in detail the practice that you are doing? Thanks.

  • james

    The practice im doing is where i sit in half lotus position doing anjali mudra, im just unsure as to how long it should last for.

  • james

    I would also like to know if anjali mudra is done with the palms pressed completely together or are the palms seperated to some degree?

  • james

    As i have seen somewhere on the itnernet that they are slightly seperated.

  • james

    Reply add: what i mean by seperated is that they are slightly open at the middle of the hand whilst the fingers and rest of hand are touching.

  • james

    Or are there variations?

  • Hello James,
    Since sitting in Anjali Mudra is not a part of the routine that I practice or teach, I am not in a position to guide you as to how long you should stay in that position. I use the Anjali Mudra only when I am chanting a mantra. It is also the first of the twelve position in the Sun Salutations routine. If you can provide me some background as to where you got this practice from, I may be able to understand the significance and then provide some guidance.
    In terms of the position of the palms, I believe the palms are slightly open in the middle. The significance being that we are ready to receive divine blessings by keeping the palms slightly open.

  • Vinay

    Dear sir,

    I got hit on the top of my head by a wall a month ago and suffered mild concussion. All the symptoms have subsided except fluctuating tinnitus since a month. Can tinnitus go away on its own? How does bhamari pranayam help in tinnitus ?

  • Vinay

    Any other advice for this problem sir? Tinnitus is ruining my job, relationships and life

    • Dear Vinay,
      I am so sorry to learn of your head injury and the resulting tinnitus condition. Unfortunately, I haven’t had to deal with a similar situation in the past. My suggestion would be to read up on the concepts of Nada Yoga (yoga of sound). There you might be able to find ways to use the sounds that you hear as the object of your meditation and meditate on those sounds. This may help you tune in with the sounds and make them a part of your being and not treating them as annoying interference. Hope this will provide some relief. Wishing you all the best.

  • R S KRISHNAN

    I have the problem of Ringing sound and humming sound in my left ear and hearing loss in both the ears.Please advise me how Pranayama can help to get rid of this problem.Also please advise me how to do Pranayama for this application.

    Thanks a lot.

    • Dear Krishnan, I am sorry to hear of your problem with ringing in the left ear. Unfortunately, I don’t have any experience in helping students who are in a similar situation. In general, though, various pranayama techniques might help you at least in calming the mind and allowing you to cope better with the situation. Some of the common pranayama practices that you may want to try are kapalabhati, bhramari and Naadi Shuddhi (Anuloma Viloma). You will find these techniques helpful in bringing an overall sense of well-being. Wishing you all the best.

  • Pragna

    I have pitutary tumore recurancy. Can I do bhramri despite having tumore. It will be great help to me ,if you reply. Thanks a lot.

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