One of the best natural sleep aids
One of the best natural sleep aids is the breath
However, if I was to say to you, “sleep aid”, I would imagine the first thing that came to your mind would be some sort of medication. What I’m talking about here is a different type of sleep aid; the vibration created by the bumble bee breath.
The bumblebee breath, or the sonorous Brahmaree Pranayama, is incredible for insomnia and is the best natural sleep aids I know of.
The intention of this pranayama, is twofold.
The first is to lengthen the exhale as the exhale is connected to the parasympathetic nervous system (the part of the nervous system that calms you down). The more you can lengthen the exhale the calmer you’ll become. Have you noticed when you sign, the exhale is longer than the inhale and you feel calmer after you’ve let out a very long sigh?
Secondly, the vibration of the bumblebee sound is the last part of the Om mantra in yoga and Ayurveda. Om is the oldest mantra known to man and is divided into three and a half parts, A, U, M and the residual echo of the vibration. When you practice brahmaree, at the end of the exhale, you’ll notice a very special stillness. In the language of yoga, it’s this stillness that transports you to the divine or the infinite.
The goal of this ‘sleep aid’ is to move your brain from busy day time brain waves (beta) to relaxed brain waves (alpha). When your brain is in alpha state, it is relaxed and moving inwards towards sleep or meditation. After 10-15 mins of this practice, your brain will be in stillness and you’ll be able to fall asleeep easier.
My guru always tells me the story of a very old yogi wondering round Rishikesh in the Himalayas. This yogi went around humming like a bumble bee all day. When asked to come and teach he had the students laying on their backs humming for an hour, needless to say they all fell asleep!
Brahmaree calms the mind, gets rid of negative emotions and stimulates serotonin.
Serotonin is the wellbeing and happy hormone from which your body makes melatonin the sleep hormone. The more work you do to quieten the brain towards the alpha state the more likely you’ll be producing sufficient serotonin and in turn melatonin the sleep hormone.
How to do the practice
Read this article about how to breathe sometime before you want to start making this practise part of your ritual. Then:
- Set your timer for 15 minutes.
- Turn the lights out, lay comfortably on your back and make the bumble bee sound!
- Just inhale and hum on the exhale, and that’s it.
- When your alarm goes off, just enjoy and be with the stillness.
Anandi’s bumblebee breathing has been picked up by a number of magazines and newspapers including the daily mail