Day 14 – brahmari pranayama (the honey bee breath)

After a 45 minute vinyasa practice in which I am mostly distracted I set up my little space with some camphor and benzoin resin burning on charcoal and a small collection of crystals in front of me, including amethyst, serpentine, rhodochrosite (promotes relaxation and universal love, when used in meditation helps one slip into a state of “golden ecstasy”), lapis lazuli (stone of inspiration, can help find life path when one is meditating with it), African jade (facilitates peace and harmony between mind and body and promotes creativity and serenity) and fluorite (great for concentration, clearing the mind and finding a focused meditative state).

I must be procrastinating because I stop to make a quick meditation playlist.Then I realise that was pointless because today I am practicing Brahmari pranayama, the honey bee breath. Brahmari pranayama is a gentle and easy deep breathing exercise that can be done by anyone. It is said to be great for singers as it stimulates the vocal chords and helps to create a smooth and long breath. Brahmari has many health benefits. It is said to provide relief for migraines, balance blood sugar and hormone secretion, increase the rate of metabolism, calm the mind and improve memory and concentration.

I sit down and breathe then raise my hands to my head, using the thumbs to block my ears and resting the other fingers on the top of my head. I take a deep inhale through the nose and then make a low, long and smooth humming sound, which is the exhale. In class I would usually teach about 10 rounds of this, but a teacher once told me that it can create a beautiful and euphoric meditative state if practised for a long time so I don’t bother counting. I can feel my mind trying to wonder but the sound of the hum is vibrating through the front part of my brain and making it really hard for my thoughts to stray. This is great! I feel myself enjoying it more and more so I decide to rest my arms on my knees, knowing I might stay for a while longer like this.

The arms shouldn’t get tired as the fingers are resting on the head, however I have noticed that if I am tired or I have just done a long yoga practice with heaps of chatturangas then it doesn’t hurt to give the arms a little break. Just make sure the back stays nice and straight so that it is still easy to breathe.

After about ten minutes I try the variation in which the fingers cover the eyes, hold the bridge of the nose and hold the lips closed while still keeping the ears blocked. This really concentrates the humming sound, making it a little more intense. At first it is scary but after a little while it feels really nice and I end up meditating for over twenty minutes like this.

When I am finished I take a few breaths, just enjoying the sounds of birds outside and my unheard playlist- everything sounds clearer and brighter as though blocking all the senses has just given them a big refresher. The entire meditation, from when I first closed my eyes, is about half an hour by the time I come out.

And yes, I did figure out how to take a photo with my toe.

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