Humming is a type of toning, which is the practice of making elongated sounds, like OM or AH. Humming is most often done with a “mmmm” sound, or a buzzing sound in the nasal passages (like bees).
The healing effects of humming have been known for centuries. Bhramari Pranayama—Humming Bee Breath—is an example of an ancient yogic technique based on humming. Read instructions and benefits here.
Western science is now confirming the healing effects of humming in peer-reviewed, scientifically validated publications. Some of these are cited in The Humming Effect (2017) by Jonathan and Andi Goldman. Documented benefits include:
- Increased oxygen in cells
- Lowered blood pressure and heart rate
- Increased lymphatic circulation
- Increased levels of melatonin
- Reduced levels of stress-related hormones
- Release of endorphins
- Release of oxytocin
- Increased levels of nitric oxide
It dilates our blood vessels, increases blood flow and lowers blood pressure, greatly reducing stress. Nitric oxide is such an important molecule that it was named “Molecule of the Year” by Science journal in 1992! So, if you are suffering from nasal congestion, consider trying the lowly hum for relief. It costs nothing to try, right?
If you can speak, you can hum!
- Hum at a pitch that is comfortable and natural for you. Don’t strain. Stay on a tone that is close to your normal speaking voice.
- Sitting up is the best position, with eyes closed. But any comfortable position is okay.
- The most basic hum begins with the “mmmmmm” sound, with lips closed. Pretend you are eating the most delicious food and just make a sound that shows your delight.
- Be gentle with yourself and don’t overdo. Hold the hum for 5–10 seconds, whatever is comfortable. Then take another breath and continue. Do this for about 5 minutes.
- Louder is not necessarily better. When you tone quietly, you will hear the subtle overtones more distinctly.
- After humming, sit quietly for 5 minutes and notice the effects. Where did you feel vibrations?
To get the full effect of humming, you need to use intention and self-awareness while you do it. We’ll explore those aspects in Part 2. Part 3 will explore advanced techniques, and include a remarkable story about bees who heal by humming.
Until next time, here’s a step-by-step humming tutorial.