One of the eight pranayama techniques listed in Master Swatmarama’s Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Technically, though, it isn’t so much a pranayama as a meditation.
Allows the body to heal quickly through its mental effects and vibrational resonance on the brain and other organs.
Deeply soothes the mind and nervous system, relieves stress, alleviates anger, eases anxiety, helps with insomnia.
Subtle Body Benefits
Awakens inner sound – nada – which induces samadhi. Focus is on anahata and ajna chakras.
Eliminates harsh and obtrusive sound in your outer world if practice is motivated by the desire to achieve the highest state of stillness in order to be of benefit to others. It takes a perfectly stilled mind to be able to turn our attention to and be of ultimate service to anyone other than ourselves and our own needs.
Sit in a meditation posture of your choice - make sure you are perfectly comfortable. Close your eyes and relax. Totally relax.
Keep teeth slightly separated with mouth closed. Plug your ears with your index fingers, elbows out to the sides or lowered down.
With your awareness focused at ajna chakra inside your head, inhale through your nose.
Exhale slowly as you make the sound of a humming bee for the duration of the exhalation.
This pose induces a meditative state. It can be done before meditation or as the actual meditation.
Tips from Deep Retreat
One of my favourite pranayama techniques, I did this practice often as a preliminary to meditation. It is profoundly quieting for the body and the mind.
If you are experiencing agitation for any reason, it is superb as a tool to soothe - even the most powerful mentally afflicted states such as anger.
Allow your humming to ride a steady exhalation, slow and controlled, regular and even. This takes practice. I noticed that changing the pitch of the humming can make a difference - there seems to be an optimal pitch for an even and steady hum.
As you focus on Ajna Chakra, notice the harmonic resonance in your head and in your heart.
Constantly monitor your forehead, jaw, lips, teeth, tongue - make sure all are completely and totally relaxed. As our focus and gaze directs inward, there is a tendency to pucker the forehead and mouth inward as well! Keep your lips softly together, your teeth apart, and the corners of your lips always turned slightly up into what my Teacher calls a "Mona Lisa smile!"
My friend Veronica taught me to do this pranayama while in Balasana - Child’s Pose - this imparts a particularly powerful and soothing vibrationary quality that you can feel in your body.
If you become distracted with fatigue from holding your arms up, you could try using ear plugs - the kind that you squeeze between your fingers and insert into your ears are most comfortable and work best for me.
As you exhale and hum, visualize your anxiety, stress, rage - whatever you’d like to offload - leaving your body, leaving you clear and free, open and available to finally be there for others.
Practicing at night before bed can help with insomnia and stress relief. Practicing in the early morning hours while it is very quiet and still in the world awakens your psychic sensitivity and heightens your internal perception of the vibration of the inner sound. Allow your mind to become fully absorbed in the humming sound.
You can add antar kumbhaka - internal retention - to this practice, but not without the guidance and instruction of a direct teacher.
You can also add jalandhara bandha and mulabandha to your antar kumbhaka, but again, only with the direct instructions of the Guru.
Don’t do this pranayama while lying down, avoid if you have an ear infection.