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. Humming not only centers and grounds us but also boosts our immune response and builds resilience, our ability to literally spring back from challenge and adjust to change.
Experience the instant benefits of humming for yourself. Take 60-90 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 if you can make your humming steady, slow and smooth following it to the end as it flows out of your body. Notice the hum vibrating into your body bringing your awareness to where you are feeling the vibration in your body. Relax into the sensations you are experiencing. Allow your inhales to fill the space created by the hum. When you finish, take a few moments to become aware of the vibration resonating within you and around you.
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. My private clients have been successful in reducing and even eliminating chronic pain and emotional tension by humming along with their daily Body Current practice.
Humming has also been shown to reduce hypertension.
One study that involved participants humming “A-O-U-Mmm” 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. To learn more about the benefits of chanting and to experience a powerful humming breathing practice read our blog: The Neurobiology of Chanting: 3 Ways to Heal your Mind, Body and Heart.
Buzzing Bee Breathing Practice (Bhramari Pranayam):
This is a potent humming breathing practice to stimulate the vagus nerve and regulate the nervous system to support health and well-being. This can be practiced daily or even just several times a week for as little as 3 – 5 minutes.
● 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? Where in your body are you noticing the vibration of the hum traveling? Can you direct your hum to areas of tension?
● Slowly inhale through the nose leaving the lips softly closed allowing the naval, heart center and throat to expand in all directions with your breath. Inhale as slow and smooth as you can without creating strain. Keep your shoulders relaxed as you feel your vastness expanding in all directions. Deepen your awareness of the sensations you feel and listen deeply to the sounds you hear. What is one quality you notice about your inhale? Can you direct your inhale to areas of your body holding stress?
● What are you noticing about your thoughts and your overall state of being as you continue this practice for 3-5 minutes?
When you feel complete, take a few moments to notice the subtle or obvious shifts you created through this simple and powerful practice. Can you still hear and feel the vibration resounding within you?
Let me know what you experience!