Bhramari Pranayam: Yoga for Sleep


 “When the Breath wanders, the mind is unsteady, but when the Breath is still, so is the mind.”

Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Very often, sleep eludes us when we’re stressed or anxious. Our mind races with a multitude of thoughts, leaving sleep far behind. Breathing well is the first step toward self-healing. Learning to breathe correctly can positively affect our thoughts and moods. While we’re aware that each thought can alter the rhythm of our breath, few people know that by altering the rhythm of our breath, we can change our thoughts too.

The word pranayama comes from Sanskrit. It literally translates to, “extension of breath”. Prana is the life-force that infuses our bodies with energy. It forms a strong association between the mind and the consciousness.

Before you sleep, it is important to calm your mind. Bhramari Pranayama teaches you to keep your breath still so that you can steady your mind.

Bhramari Pranayam: Yoga for Sleep

What is the Bhramari Pranayama?

The asana finds its name from the Black Indian Bee, Bhramari. The sound we make when we exhale while practicing this asana resembles the humming sound of a bee and so, it is called Bhramari pranayama.

Whether you’re anxious or angry, this breathing exercise can help you release the negative emotions, while breathing in freshness and joy. A simple technique with miraculous benefits, the Bhramari Pranayama can be practiced anywhere to de-stress yourself.

How to perform the Bhramari Pranayama?

  • Begin by sitting in a comfortable position. You can either sit cross-legged on a mat or sit toward the front of the chair. Remember, it is important is to keep the spine straight. While on the mat, if it is difficult to stay straight, sit on a cushion to elevate your position.
  • Close your eyes and keep your lips and your teeth slightly apart.
  • Now bring your thumbs to your ears, and gently close them. The other fingers will rest on the crown, spread out over it.
  • Breathe in slowly through your nostrils, and then exhale slowly emulating a steady, low-pitched ‘hmmm’ sound at the back of your throat. If the sound resembles the humming of a bee, then you are doing it right.
  • Try to make the sound like soft, smooth, and steady as you can. When you move deeper, you will be able to feel a vibration resonate through your head. Try to keep your body very still, and bring your attention to the light at the center of your forehead (also called the third eye center). The asana should be performed at least 10 times.
  • After completing the tenth round, contemplate how you feel. Listen to your body and your emotions. You will feel a shift in your energy and silence within. Try to take your attention to the parts where you can sense a tingle. Sit silently in that position for five to ten minutes.

What are the benefits of Bhramari Pranayama?

  1. It is the best cure for stress. It nurtures peace in your being, which in turn, results in self-healing.
  2. It lowers one’s blood pressure, thus relieving hypertension.
  3. It releases cerebral tension.
  4. It soothes the nerves.
  5. It stimulates the pineal and pituitary glands, thus supporting their proper functioning.
  6. It dissipates anger.
  7. It is helpful in preventing heart blockages.
  8. It helps with inducing deep sleep.

Precautions to be taken while practicing Bhramari Pranayama

Bhramari breathing has no harmful side effects. However, if one does it wrong, then there might arise some difficulties. To avoid this, follow the instructions included here closely, or practice it under the guidance of a yoga teacher.

Additionally, here are some precautions to take in order to avoid these side effects.

  1. Place your thumb on the tragus. Do not insert it in the ear.
  2. Do not press on the tragus too hard, but just place your thumb gently on it.
  3. Bhramari Pranayama should be practiced with an empty stomach or at least four to five hours after your meal.
  4. It is best to perform Pranayama early in the morning, preferably before sunrise.
  5. When you perform Bhramari Pranayama, be sure to keep your lips gently pressed. Your mouth should be closed.
  6. When tired while performing the asana, take rest and breathe deeply before performing the next round. Do not force the pranayama.
  7. People with an ear infection should avoid the asana until their infection is cured.

So the next time you feel anxious or cannot put your mind to rest and cannot sleep because of that, we hope you will give this age-old asana a try.

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