Bhramara is the Sanskrit word for male bee and is also a form of Indian dance
This mudra is particularly helpful in relieving respiratory allergy symptoms that are caused by a weakened immune system, particularly during the Spring season. It can also be practiced when we are experiencing a runny nose or congestion in the lungs and sinuses.
As part of a regular practice it is said to improve the state of our intestinal flora, which can be negatively affected by antibiotics and other allergy-related medications. This can result in mucus in the frontal sinuses, bronchi and intestinal tract, as well as the emergence of a variety of skin rashes. The changing of the seasons, pollen and animal hairs are often only the triggers, but not the true cause of allergic reactions.
To perform this mudra, both hands mimic the form of a bee in flight at the same time. Begin by placing the index finger at the recess of the thumb and join the tip of the thumb to the tip of the middle finger. Allow the ring and the pinky finger to extend outwards. Hold this position for anywhere between 8 to 20 minutes, 4-5 times per day.
To further strengthen your practice, you can combine this mudra with Brahmari pranayama, which is named after the humming black bee. This breathing practice shifts the autonomic nervous system into parasympathetic dominance, which in turn reduces stress, anxiety and anxious depression in particular. The sound helps to shut out mental stimulation, switching off the thinking mind. A lower pitch can be more calming or an entirely silent practice can be done at any time when you are feeling stressed.
When the sinuses are blocked, the vibrations from bhramari aid in clearing the head. Taking the pitch of the hum to a higher frequency can be helpful for this. If suffering from insomnia, practicing a lower pitch at night while using shanmukhi mudra can be useful.
To practice brahmari pranayama, lengthen the vertical axis of the spine in a seated position and align the chin and forehead vertically. Begin by verbalising an actual buzzing sound, slowly softening the buzz to a hum as you gently close the lips until they touch lightly, allowing the jaw to stay relaxed by leaving a space between the teeth. This allows you to feel how the hum is created. Now attempt to control your exhalations, maintaining a steady, smooth, even and continuous sound. Allow your inhalations to happen slowly and steadily between rounds, rather than quickly drawing the breath in.
For the fellow yoga teachers amongst you, this a truly wonderful way to begin a group class. Instruct your students on how to perform the bee breath and then ask them to continue the breath on their own. Request that they hum until the end of each exhalation and continue to do so for around three to five full minutes. Over time, the various lengths of your students’ breath will come together to form one continuous hum, bathing your class in the vibrational qualities of brahmari pranayama. The result is an instantaneous change of the energy in the room, bringing students into an uplifted, deeply meditative state of mind.
Elements: Air, Water & Fire.
Illustration © estudio mosa 2019