Humming For Health

 Humming For Health

By Jennifer Kelleher

Take a moment to sit up tall in your chair and find your center. Bring your attention to your breath. Inhale and exhale with the intention of getting present. From this place of presence, inhale, and on your exhale, make a long ‘hum’ sound for the duration of your out-breath. Repeat this 3-6 times. Notice how you feel.

Two of my great sound healing mentors, Jonathan and Andi Goldman, have done extensive work and research on the power of humming. Humming is one of the simplest and most profound sounds we can make. Accessible to anyone with a voice, the hum has extraordinary abilities that can be used for healing and much more. The free and readily available practice of humming is a great way for you to start to experience the power of your own voice and how to use sound to find homeostasis. In today’s column, I am going to share some of the proven benefits of humming in hopes of inspiring you to start your own daily humming practice.

First, humming has been shown to reduce blood pressure and heart rate. Nepal Medical College published a study outlining the immediate effects of Bhramari Pranayama– a yogic exercise that essentially combines humming with deep breathing. They found that just five minutes of practice led to significant decreases in blood pressure, along with slight decreases in heart rate, ultimately helping practitioners settle into the parasympathetic “rest and digest” part of their nervous system. Another study from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience in India proved that chanting ‘Om’ for five minutes deactivated the limbic system of the chanters, providing a significant decrease in stress and increase in calm. Vibrationally, ‘Om’ is considered very similar to the hum. In this study, they compared ‘Om’ with the pronunciation of ‘sss’. ‘Sss’ did not lead to any limbic deactivation, whereas ‘Om’ did.

Next, humming increases nitric oxide levels. Named “Molecule of the Year” by the distinguished journal ‘Science’ in 1992, nitric oxide enhances our immune system, cardiovascular system, and respiratory system. Researchers in Sweden found that humming triggers the release of nitric oxide in the nasal cavity, making it a great practice for effectively opening up the sinuses. Many peer-reviewed papers on Medline back this up. While research is still being done, Jonathan and Andi propose that directing your hum to specific parts of your body will cause the cells in those areas to release nitric oxide, bringing them into harmony and health.

Humming also increases lymphatic circulation, which is incredibly important for the removal of toxins from the body. When you hum, oxygen and nitric oxide levels increase. Additionally, the vibration of your hum acts as an internal massage for your organs and glands. There are actually sonic healing tools that are used for the purpose of encouraging lymphatic drainage, however with your own voice you can do it for yourself.

Furthermore, humming increases melatonin. Research indicates that melatonin has many benefits, like improving sleep, reducing inflammation, fighting infectious disease, and even anti-aging. Canadian Dr. Ranjie Singh conducted studies where he compared subjects in two groups. The group that practiced “meditative intonation” (humming) demonstrated significantly higher levels of melatonin than those in the control group.

Additionally, humming triggers the release of endorphins, which are powerful opiate-like neurotransmitters that block pain and give you feelings of pleasure and euphoria. Endorphins are released through activities that make you feel good, like exercise and sex. Humming also generates these natural opiates.

Finally, humming with another person or a group triggers the release of oxytocin. Oxytocin is often referred to as the “trust” or “love” hormone and it encourages bonding and feelings of empathy between people.

Now that you know some of the studied benefits of humming, I invite you to start your own practice and notice where it leads you! Join me at Ocean Bliss Yoga on Wednesday, January 17 for a Chakra Balancing Sound Bath to experience the healing power of sound firsthand. No experience necessary. Sign up at

Call or text me at 917-318-1168 with any questions.

Much of the information for this article was pulled from Jonathan and Andi Goldman’s book, “The Humming Effect: Sound Healing for Health and Happiness.”

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