Hum Like a Bee, Float Like a Bird

by Blake Herzog

When we’re feeling or trying to feel relaxed and happy, it’s not uncommon to find ourselves humming. If you don’t already, you can try this any time you feel a little stressed or blue and just chill out.

This is one of the simplest forms of breathwork, or the practice of controlling our breath to promote relaxation and other desirable effects.

Breathwork has been an element of spiritual life and relaxation since at least 500 to 600 B.C., when the practice of yoga and its breathing exercises known as pranayama were first developed in ancient India.

Out of the many techniques practiced within pranayama, one of the easiest and most effective is known as bhramani, or humming bee’s breath.

The exhale is accompanied by a humming noise produced by the vocal chords and kept within the throat and nasal cavity, reverberating against the vagus nerve that runs throughout the body and plays a key role in the autonomic nervous system.

The humming or buzzing noise helps to drown out the chatter in your mind and break the cycle of anxious or negative thinking. The vibration can lower your heart rate and calm other automatic functions reacting to a “fight or flight” response.

Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit in a relaxed posture, even at your desk.

1. Sit in a cross-legged position on the floor or on a chair with your spine straight. Rest your hands on your knees or in a mudra (position) of your choice — for example, index finger touching the tip of the thumb.

2. Inhale slowly through your nose and fill your lungs with air.

3. Create a humming sound like that of a bee as you exhale. Keep your mouth closed and produce the sound with the throat. The humming sound should be gentle, smooth and continuous. Aim for a deep and resonant hum.

The lips can remain gently closed throughout the practice, allowing the sound to vibrate in the nasal cavity.

4. Repeat the process for several breaths, gradually increasing their duration. Start with 5 to 10 breaths and, as you become more comfortable, you can extend it to 15 to 20.