Apr 10, 2009

pranayama > bhramari > II: FAQs

I am giving answers to some most likely questions on bhramari.
  • Which part of the air pipe should the humming sound come from?
The hum gets generated by vibration of the wind pipe. In bhramari pranayama, we let the passage behind the soft palate, and the passages above and below it to vibrate soothingly. What it means is that we do not force the vibration from the throat or nasal cavity. Doing it this [incorrect] way can lead to pharynxitis or sinus-related problems.
  • Should I press my chin to the chest?
Not, unless a yoga expert asks you to do with a specific purpose. Keep your head comfortable.
  • How many times should I repeat the breathing? For how long should I do bhramari pranayama in one sitting?
You can start with as few as three-four inhalation-exhalation cycles and go up to about 5 minutes. You can do it longer, if your health and age permit. In fact, being very simple and effortless and yet very beneficial, bhramari pranayama is eminently suited for busy, sick and old people. The golden rule, as always, is to do pranayamas comfortably and without applying undue force.
  • With which finger should I plug the ear-hole, and what is the correct position of arms during bhramari ?
Use the thumb, and fan the elbows away from body. Place the fingers above and below the eye, caring not to press the eye-ball. However, if this posture tires or pains your arms, while pressing the ear-holes with thumbs, let the arms fall comfortably to your sides. Then, you can lightly press the head above ears with your fingers to give support to the arms.
  • My arms ache when I keep them fanned away from body. My shoulders have started aching after I started doing bhramari pranayama. My spondylitis has aggravated due to bhramari pranayama.
Keep arms in the alternative posture given above. Or, are you doing bhramari pranayama for a duration longer than suitable for your age and general health condition?
  • Can I do bhramari pranayama before/after other pranayamas? Can I do bhramari after asanas?
Bhramari pranayama suits all yoga regimens. Just take care that it should not be done when you are actively exercising; so, take 2-3 minute rest after asanas. Keep a minute or so in between pranayamas too.
  • Do the general instructions for doing pranayamas apply to bhramari pranayama also?
Very much. Please see the general guidelines on this post and elsewhere on the blog.
  • Should I hold the breath just before exhaling? Is it OK if the humming sound breaks?
You should not hold the breath between inhalation and exhalation. Inhale a bit deeper than normal [not too deep] and slowly exhale with humming sound. Don’t let the humming sound die down or go away, though it is natural to lose the sound when you are not used to it. As far as possible, maintain a smooth, uninterrupted as well as unlabored sound. Try to make it melodious, and not a drone. In any case, do not let the sound come in bit like this: hmmmmm- hmmmmm- hmmmmm- hmmmmm.
  • Should I keep my jaws clasped while humming?
No. Let the teeth of the upper and lower jaws not touch.

We'll talk about the many benefits of bhramari pranayama later.