BHRAMARI (BEE) BREATHING
1. Sit up straight and close your eyes. Breathe normally and relax the whole body.
2. Your mouth should be closed, your jaw relaxed, and your upper and lower teeth slightly separated.
3. Close your ears by pressing with your thumbs on the tragus and rest your little fingers gently at the edge of the eyelids. Your other fingers should rest lightly on your forehead.
4. Take a slow, deep breath through both nostrils.
5. Then exhale slowly through the nose, making a continuous humming sound from the throat. The sound will reverberate in the head. Repeat steps 4 & 5 for about 5 minutes. After you become proficient and if you feel no discomfort, the time can be longer.
6. The sound should be deep, steady and smooth.
7. Feel the sound vibration in the head. Concentrate on the continuous drone and the vibration that the sound produces. This drone is similar to the humming sound of a bee.
Bhramari breathing can be practiced any time, but preferably on an empty stomach, and several times a day if you wish. It is especially beneficial if you feel stressed or anxious, and it helps still the mind in meditation. You can also practice bhramari breathing while lying on your back.
• Sooths and calms the mind
• Relieves tension and anxiety
• Helps to reduce high blood pressure
• Effective for insomnia
• Improves concentration
• Builds self-confidence
This breathing technique should be practiced only if it is comfortable for you and should never be forced. If you feel dizzy or uncomfortable, stop practicing it and go back to normal breathing.
ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING (NADI SHODHANA)
Alternate nostril breathing is a form of pranayama – control of life force (life energy) by means of breathing techniques – and has many physical, mental and spiritual benefits. It is safe to do it provided you follow these instructions carefully, but if you have heart or lung problems, you should check with your doctor first. Begin by sitting upright with your eyes closed and relax. With the palm of the right hand facing you, the thumb and the ring and little fingers extended, and the other fingers bent toward the palm, press your right nostril with the thumb and inhale through your left nostril. Press the left nostril with your ring and little fingers and hold the breath. Then lift your thumb from the nose, exhale through your right nostril and pause. Next, inhale through your right nostril, press it with the thumb and hold the breath. Then lift the ring and little fingers, exhale through the left nostril, and pause before inhaling through it to begin a new round. Keep doing rounds like this for about five minutes taking a break part way through if you need to. After each exhalation, pause and then inhale through the nostril you just exhaled through. Practice two or three times a day, preferably in a quiet place and at least three hours after eating. If you wish, support your arm with a firm cushion.
The next step is to practice as above, beginning and ending each round with the left nostril and pausing after each exhalation, but timing the in-breath, retention, and out-breath. Inhale while mentally counting to 4, retain the breath to the count of 4, and exhale to the count of 4, then pause before you inhale again. Practice complete rounds for about five minutes, two or three times a day, for about a week. If this is comfortable, practice daily for another week or so inhaling to 4, holding the breath to 8, exhaling to 8, and pausing before inhaling again, provided you experience no discomfort doing this.
Gradually extend the count to 4-12-8 and later on to 4-16-8 if this is comfortable and practice every day. Do not hold the breath to the point of discomfort, or try to hasten the benefits of alternate nostril breathing by practicing for more than 5-10 minutes per session. This could be harmful. If you feel good and experience no adverse effects practicing at 4-16-8 for several weeks, increase the duration of each session if you wish provided you continue to feel good and experience no discomfort. This alternate nostril breathing technique, nadi shodhana, either practiced by itself or with bhramari breathing, may be used to draw the mind inward in meditation. It purifies the nadis (life energy channels) and
• helps one to breathe smoothly and deeply
• Calms the mind, relieves stress and improves health
• Increases the flow of life energy in the nadis and chakras
• Balances the flow of energy in the ida and pingala nadis on each side of the spine
• Relaxes the nerves and improves digestion and other involuntary functions
• Awakens dormant, spiritual faculties in the head and spine
• Improves concentration and meditation
NADI SHODHANA AND BHRAMARI BREATHING COMBINED
The following technique combines nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) with bhramari (bee) breathing. By practicing these two techniques together as one, they reinforce each other in their ability to purify the channels (nadis) and spinning vortexes (chakras) of life energy in our spiritual body. Gradually blockages and conscious and unconscious thought patterns that restrict and cause imbalances in the flow of life-sustaining, healing energies within us are removed. Dormant faculties of higher awareness in our major chakras in the head and spine begin to function, we become free of many limitations and more loving, our health improves, and we are able to go deeper when we meditate.
In a quiet place where you can be alone, sit upright, close your eyes and relax. Your mouth should be closed, your jaw relaxed, and your upper and lower teeth slightly separated. Rest your forefingers gently at the edge of your eyelids, your middle fingers at each side of the nose, your thumbs on the tragus of each ear, the ring fingers on the face just above the upper lip, and the little fingers just below the lower lip. Close the right nostril with your middle finger and inhale through your left nostril. Press your left nostril with your left middle finger and hold the breath. Then lift your right middle finger from the nose, press the tragus of each ear with your thumbs, and exhale through your right nostril. As you exhale make a continuous humming sound from the throat and concentrate on the sound as it reverberates in the head. Try to make it steady and smooth.
Next, reverse the process. Lift your thumbs slightly so they no longer close the ears, inhale through your right nostril, then press it with the right middle finger and hold the breath, then lift the left middle finger from the nose, press the tragus of each ear with your thumbs, and exhale through the left nostril. As you exhale make a continuous humming sound from the throat and concentrate on the sound as it reverberates in the head. For about five minutes, continue to inhale, retain the breath, and make the sound as you exhale. After exhaling, always inhale through the nostril you just exhaled through. Alternate between the left and the right nostrils, take a break whenever you need to, and end with exhalation through the left nostril.
The in-breath should always be to the (mental) count of 4, and the retention to the count of 4 or 6, gradually increasing it over a period of weeks or months to 12 or 16. For the out-breath, just make the long humming sound. As you become accustomed to this technique, pause after each exhalation. When holding the breath, instead of always counting to regulate its duration, only count occasionally, and you will be able to focus more fully on the peace that can be felt when you are not inhaling or exhaling and the breath is still. Practice two or three times a day, preferably at least three hours after eating, and if you wish, support your arms with a firm cushion. While performing the technique, lift the eyes gently and concentrate on the forehead just above the midpoint between the eyebrows. If you see a beautiful light, concentrate on it, and it may grow brighter.
Practice every day and gradually increase the duration of each session to 10-15 minutes. Blockages in the energy channels should be removed slowly, and trying to rush this purification process hoping to get quick results can be harmful. Also, you should not use this technique if it causes you discomfort, but if you are comfortable with it, it can bring you many blessings.