The benefits of pranayama - conscious controlled breathing - are many: improved concentration + focus, reduced stress and anxiety, better sleep and studies have shown that it can reduce blood pressure.
The practice of Pranayama during pregnancy not only trains the brain but encourages deep breathing, energising the mind, body and baby. Using the breath consciously is an essential part of labour and birth; in fact it's the only part of the process of which we have any control!
The humming sound of Brahmari pranayama positively impacts the nervous system by activating the parasympathetic nervous system to calm the mind. The soft vibration the sound creates is soothing for baby and by using this breathing technique it can help to focus attention inward, encouraging pratyahara - sense withdrawal - which is needed for physiological labour.
The traditional practice of Brahmari uses the hands to cover eyes and ears to intensify the sound, however for pregnancy, I often teach with hands on the belly so mama can feel the vibration within. Here's how:
Sit comfortably and upright,or if you prefer lay on your left side supported with cushions
Place your hands over your belly
Take a deep breath and expand each part of your belly
Keep your mouth closed, but without the slightest tension. The facial muscles should be relaxed and the teeth should not touch each other
As you exhale, make a sound reminiscent of the buzzing of a bee or bumblebee
The sound and vibrations will be amplified in the resonance box you create with your fingers
The buzzing should be continuous and as regular as possible; focus your mind on the buzz
Continue for as long as possible until you have no more air to expel
The more you practice bee breathing, the longer your flight will last!
FYI: ANYBODY can practice Brahmari Pranayama and enjoy the benefits of conscious breathing - you don't need to be pregnant!
Want to learn more about how yoga can support your pregnancy and birth?
Prenatal Specialist and Senior Teacher Sara Evans shares a wealth of wisdom in bite size doses perfect for practicing at home; join the online pregnancy yoga series for just $59 or choose to practice with your new baby - they love brahmari breath too!