The Key to Managing Your Stress: Humming

One of the ways to manage stress is by practicing relaxation breathing techniques. The Mayo Clinic discusses the benefit of humming for relaxation purposes. Humming for relaxation is “a yoga breathing technique called Bhramari.”  This technique is also known as ‘bee breathing’ because the “exhalation in this breathing technique resembles the humming sound of a bee.”

How to hum:

  1. Sit comfortably in a quiet place. Take a few slow and deep breaths through the nose.
  2. Relax your body with each breath, mainly focusing on your eyes, facial muscles, and jaw.
  3. Inhale through the nose and then gently exhale through the nose, making a low-to-medium-pitched humming sound in the throat while breathing out, making a “Hmmmmm…” sound. This should not feel forced.
  4. Your humming exhale should be longer than your inhale. Maintain your humming exhale for as long as it is comfortable. 
  5. Do this practice for about five breaths, then return to normal breathing.

What can humming do for you?

This technique affects your autonomic nervous system (ANS), your body’s ‘fight or flight response.’ The elongated exhale of the bee breath “has a calming effect by stimulating part of the ANS called the parasympathetic nervous system.” The calming effect of the breath also allows you to release any tension in your body. 

According to a publication from the Mayo Clinic, “some of the possible benefits of humming include:

  • Reduced levels of stress
  • Lowered blood pressure and heart rate
  • Increased levels of nitric oxide, a molecule that promotes healing and widens blood vessels.
  • Improved airflow between the sinuses and the nasal cavity and improvement of the health of your sinuses.”

A study on the effectiveness of the Bhramari breathing technique revealed that when compared to other stress-reducing activities (like exercise and sleep), humming created the lowest stress levels in the study’s participants. The study concluded that “Humming (simple Bhramari) can be an effective stress-buster…a regular daily humming routine can help enhance the parasympathetic nervous system and slow down sympathetic activation.”

How can chiropractic help?

Dr. Heidi Haavik, a neurophysiologist and chiropractor, discusses how stress particularly affects your spinal health and how chiropractic care can help. Dr. Haavik explains that when stressed, our automatic fight or flight response “turns on all the big muscles, priming them for fight or flight, but at the same time…turns off the little muscles close to the spine and skull.” Your brain relies on these to control your spinal movement. Chronic stress leads to these muscles being frequently turned off, which can damage them. 

Dr. Haavik continues that “these are the exact same muscles that we activate when chiropractors adjust the spine.” Chronic stress and the damage it can do to these muscles not only correlate with chronic spinal problems, but Dr. Haavik says, “you often end up with poor posture because of chronic stress.” Managing stress along with regular chiropractic adjustments can combat the damage done to these muscles around the spine and skull to help fix spine issues and improve posture.