Bumblebee breath and the vagus nerve

Bumblebee Breath & the Vagus Nerve

Posted: 10th September 2020 by Emma Wall

This calming Bumblebee breath heals and soothes your mind and nervous system. By using a gentle humming sound, like the sound of a bumblebee, you send vibrations throughout your whole being. These vibrations signal to your nervous system to switch into its parasympathetic branch, which aids in resting and digesting. You also stimulate the vagus nerve, which runs through your throat.

Meditating with Bhramari Pranayama/Bumblebee Breath

You can use deep tones in this breathing meditation, to stimulate and clear out the lower energy centres, or use higher tones for further up the body. You can even use a seven toned vibrational meditation, working your way up the chakras from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. 

Use a long slow exhalation for each hum, staying with an even tone throughout. Focus on where you feel the vibrations in your body. Your body will instinctively intuit the right tone to hum, so let go of the thinking mind and step instead into the feeling body.

The role of the Vagus Nerve

The vagus nerve plays a crucial role in the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system in or bodies. The vagus is the tenth cranial nerve, extending from the brain stem, all the way down the neck and thorax down to the abdomen. Its trajectory forms the neural and hormonal pathway of the brain-gut axis, which is heavily involved in establishing our feelings of mental wellbeing. An estimated 90% of our serotonin is produced in the gut, with its gut-to-brain transportation relying on the vagus nerve. In the thorax, it provides the main parasympathetic supply to the heart and stimulates a reduction in the heart rate. The vagus nerve is also responsible for the regulation of our respiratory rate. 

The vagus nerve

The Vagus Nerve and Yoga

Practices such as yoga and meditation are believed to stimulate the vagus nerve. Vagus stimulation helps us to balance the functions of the internal organs and bring us into a calmer state of being, reducing inflammation and triggering the body’s natural healing system. 

The ancient yogis intuited the role of the vagus nerve long before modern science caught up with its importance. Naming it as the Kundalini energy, that rises like a serpent up through the chakral system from root to crown. It is through vagal nerve activation that we tune into the mind-body connection on a deeper level. High vagal activation brings feelings of compassion and connectedness to one another and allows us to embody oneness.

Read Breathe your way into something deeper

Steps for practising Bumblebee Breath

  • From a seated position take three full inhalations and exhalations through the nose to prepare.
  • You can practice the humming sound with your hands on your lap, or by closing off the ears with your index fingers with your elbows extended to the side.
  • Create a slow, even humming sound on the exhalation and feel the vibrations in your throat and body.
  • To work your way up the chakra system, start by drawing your deepest vibrational tone into your tailbone area. Take three hums focusing your energy here. Every time you move up to the next Chakra, raise the tone of your hum a little higher.

7 Chakras and Bumblebee breath

The location of the Seven Chakras

  1. Root Chakra – Muladhara: Base of the spine
  2. Sacral Chakra – Swadhisthana: Lower abdomen
  3. Solar Plexus Chakra – Manipura: Upper abdomen
  4. Heart Chakra – Anahata: Center of chest
  5. Throat Chakra – Vishuddha: Throat
  6. Third Eye Chakra – Ajna: Forehead between the eyes
  7. Crown Chakra – Sahasrara: Top of the head.

You might like to also try 4-7-8 Breathing: Release the pressure

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