Is taking 21 breaths in the ‘Aum fashion’ a speedy way to reduce anxiety, sleep better?

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Amidst several techniques and practices touted for their potential benefits on social media, ‘humming’, which is inspired from the ancient Indian practice of the Aum technique, has caught the attention of users online. 

Content creator Jason Field suggests that the simple act of humming can offer profound relief, surpassing even the rejuvenating effects of a full night’s sleep. “Humming is more effective in giving us a state of rest than sleeping.” 

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He suggests taking 21 breaths in the “Aum fashion is a very speedy way” to reduce anxiety and better than 8 hours of sleep.

Benefits of using the Aum technique

The Aum technique includes the rhythmic repetition of the sound “Aum” (or “Om”), believed to resonate with the vibrations of the universe and the essence of existence. 

Neha Cadabam, senior psychologist and executive director at Cadabams Hospitals explains, “Humming can influence the autonomic nervous system, promoting relaxation and calming. This happens because humming helps to regulate breathing and increase nitric oxide levels, which has been shown to improve blood flow and reduce blood pressure.”

It contributes to relaxation by stimulating the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain throughout the body, influencing heart rate, digestion, and mood, she says.

Additionally, the steady, rhythmic nature of humming can help quiet the mind, making it easier to fall asleep. The vibration from humming also promotes relaxation, which can be particularly beneficial before sleep, helping to ease the transition into deeper sleep states.

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The Aum technique vs traditional meditation or relaxation practices

The Aum technique, according to Cadabam, involves vocalising the sound ‘Aum’ or ‘Om’, which is a sacred mantra in Hinduism, Buddhism, and other traditions. 

The steady, rhythmic nature of humming can help quiet the mind, making it easier to fall asleep. (Source: Freepik)

This technique differs from traditional meditation that might focus on breath or silent repetition of a mantra without vocal output.”

The vibration of the ‘Aum’ sound is believed to have a physical and mental calming effect, which can be more engaging than silent meditation methods due to the sensory feedback it provides.

Effectiveness of Humming for Anxiety Compared to Sleep

“While the claim that humming for ‘21 breaths in the Aum fashion’ could be more effective than a full night’s sleep for anxiety reduction might be an exaggeration, it underscores the potential powerful impact of controlled breathing and vocalisation on immediate stress relief,” Cadabam stresses. 

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However, scientifically, adequate and quality sleep cannot be replaced by any form of meditation in terms of long-term health benefits, including the management of anxiety.

Relying solely on humming or the Aum technique for anxiety management and sleep improvement might not be sufficient for everyone, she elaborates, especially those with severe anxiety or sleep disorders. While these techniques can be part of a broader strategy to manage symptoms, they should not replace treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy, medication, or other medically advised interventions.