Written by Alice Reid
Nature's First Aid: Deactivating the Stress Response
Whether you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed by the pressures of life, there are many tools you can use to reset, rebalance and find inner calm for healing and wellbeing. This one that you may find is just the thing to help you this ‘silly season’. The tool I’m discussing here involves deactivating the fight or flight response of sympathetic dominance and switching on the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) through stimulation of the vagus nerve (cranial nerve X) with techniques such as humming, gargling and singing.
A breathing technique, used in yoga, for soothing the nervous system is humming bee breath (Bhramari pranayama). As one practises the technique, the vibrations emanating from the vocal folds and the sensation of them inside your head, steadily leads you into a place of stillness and peace within as your whole body begins to entrain to the sound and the vibration. Hearing the sound of your own voice, coupled with vibration, is a powerful way to self-soothe and can be used at any time.
Bhramari pranayama is best done sitting down. Gently shut your eyes and place a forefinger over each tragus (front flap of the ear) to close the ear. Inhale through your nose, then hum gently as you exhale, for 5-10 breaths. Finish by releasing the hands down, breathing gently through the nose for a few moments and open your eyes to complete.