Very few people on earth can say they have never experienced anxiety. While each one of us experiences it a bit differently, physiologically there is a common thread… Breath. But, you may wonder, can a breathing exercise help?
Dr. Timothy McCall explains that anxiety is commonly associated with short, tight upper-chest breathing.
However, the relaxation response comes with slower breaths originating from the diaphragm. “Lengthening exhalation relative to inhalation reduces the ‘fight or flight’ impulse and maintains a healthy level of carbon dioxide in the blood, which helps you relax.”
“When the breath wanders the mind also is unsteady. But when the breath is calmed the mind too will be still, and the yogi achieves long life. Therefore, one should learn to control the breath.” – Svatmarama, Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Yogis have known about the relationship between the breath and mind for ages and have developed certain practices to calm and soothe our systems to prepare for meditation.
One of the most effective exercises that was created for calming the mind is called Bee Humming Breath or Bhramari, something that is prescribed by yogis and even Western medical doctors like McCall.
In the morning when I sit down to practice pranayama, this is where I start. Bees breath is a wonderful way to wake up the body with the subtle vibrations of sound and then work your way deeper. This practice leads perfectly into other pranayama exercises such as Nodi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing), Kapilbhati (Breath of Fire), Lions Breath or Uddiyana Bandha.
I see this exercise an essential warm up or primer for the body and mind, slowly attuning it for its highest potential. Unlike some other breath work, Bees Breath can be done anytime throughout the day. So if you find yourself in a moment of panic: STOP, DROP and HUM.
Benefits of Bees Breath
Benefits of this practice include calming the mind, reducing strong emotions like anger, soothing the nervous system and reducing anxiety by bringing you back into the present moment. Overall, it helps to focus the mind so it can also be wonderful in preparation for meditation.
Because of the nature of this exercise, the vibrations increase circulation in the head, neck, throat, chest and even down into the belly. For this reason experts say Bees Breath can be helpful with throat ailments and activating the throat chakra, which governs communication.
- Aim to do this 3-5 times.
- Holding your hands up to your face is optional but does help you to connect with the sensation more afterwards.
- While this exercise is generally safe for everyone, one caution is to never strain the body, nor rush or force the breath for this practice.
Want to learn the breathing exercise that gets anxiety to buzz off? Watch this tutorial for Bee Breath:
- Meditation and Pranayam (book) by Yug Purush Mahamandaleshwar Swami Paramanand Giriji Maharaj