It’s no surprise that recent psychological studies and neuroscience research have shown that humming a happy tune can impact our health and well-being. Take 30-60 seconds right now to hum your favorite tune or simply hum any sound that naturally comes through you. Hum loud our soft with your lips closed and jaw relaxed. Notice where you are feeling this vibration in your body. Relax into the sensations you are experiencing. When you finish, take a few moments to become aware of the vibration that resonates within you even after the humming sound has stopped.
How do you feel? You may notice a sense of calm coming over you. You may even begin to yawn as your parasympathetic nervous system comes online with a relaxation response.
Good, good, good vibrations for depression
The International Journal of Yoga has reported from a recent study of functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) with ‘OM’ chanting, which ends on a long vibrating humming sound, a significant deactivation of activity in certain areas of the brain associated with depression.
The researchers found that the vibrations from ‘OM’ chanting stimulate the vagus nerve, which then sends out neurotransmitters and electrical signals that reduce activity to key areas of the brain like the amygdala, associated with our flight/fight/freeze response. In addition, the increased oxygenation of the blood from the vibration facilitates feelings of relaxation and release in the muscles and structure of the body. In my private work, I have experienced clients reducing and even eliminating chronic pain due to humming along with their daily Body Current® routine.
Humming has also been shown to reduce hypertension.
One study that involved participants humming “O-U-Mmma” for only 5 minutes experienced a significant drop in blood pressure, particularly the diastolic pressure as well as a slight decrease in heart rate. The activity in this study was part of a yogic breathing exercise called Bhramari Pranayam.
Buzzing Bee Breathing Practice (Bhramari Pranayam):
This is a potent humming breathing practice that relaxes the autonomic nervous system. This can be practice daily or only several times a week.
● Sit in a chair with your spine aligned or lay on the earth with a pillow under your knees or in Constructive Rest with your knees bent and resting in toward one another. Allow your eyes to close. Relax any tension in your body. You can choose to put your thumbs in your ears and fingers across your eyes, if you wish. Keep your shoulders relaxed.
● Keep your lips gently closed throughout the practice, but allow your tongue to rest gently behind your top row of teeth. Open and relax the jaw and back of the throat.
● Simply make a sound like a buzzing bee, as you exhale through the nostrils, allowing your belly button to come into your spine. Extend the hum with the exhale as long as possible without strain.
● Notice the vibration in your throat, your cranium, your cheeks, and your heart. You will hear the sound from within. What sensations are you feeling?
● Slowly inhale through the nose leaving the lips closed, and allowing the lower ribs to flare out slightly as you expand with your breath. Inhale as deeply as you can without creating strain. Keep your shoulders relaxed. Again, be aware of the sensations you feel and listen to the sound you hear.
Enjoy! Repeat for as little as 30 seconds and up to two minutes. Take a few moments to notice how you feel after each practice and see if you can still hear the vibration resounding within you. Let me know what you experience!