Yoga means union with the divine. Its focus is achieving a state of highest spiritual insight and tranquility through the practice of body positions (asanas), specialized breathing patterns and a centering of the mind. There are many disciplines of yoga aimed at increasing body awareness and flexibility while achieving a calmness of mind and spirit. Yoga is a spiritual and physical practice that helps one to enter a space of non-judgment, compassion, and relaxation that is a conduit to the creative spirit and a refinement of consciousness.
The forms of yoga include Hatha, Kundalini, Bhakti, Shakti, Tantric and Naga, to name a few. They all work with the path of energy and involve a deep listening to the body and its inner sounds. They all aim at creating harmony between the internal and the external.
Healing, has been defined as a spiritual awakening with profound impact on the physical body. This transformation of consciousness is at the core of yoga and is also the foundational principal of the Himalayan Singing Bowls (also known as Tibetan bowls.) Tuned to the vibrational frequency of AUM, the sound of universal perfection, the inner music of the soul that reawakens in us our connection to the universe, the singing bowls can be used as a yoga tool as their frequencies gently penetrate and calm the body/mind to promoting a deeper understanding of the asanas.
Because the bowls work through brainwave entrainment, and our brainwaves synchronize to the frequency of the bowls (AUM) their sound facilitates harmonious breath and movement flow, helping to avoid strain and stress while holding asanas. The sound vibrations balance the hemispheres of the brain, initiate the relaxation response and increase the practitioners ability to move through resistances such as weakness, fatigue, pain, stiffness, and emotional tension. The Tibetan bowls carry the energy of the Tibetan Buddhist principal of Voidness which teaches the interrelationship of all things, so as the brain entrains with their sound the practitioner may experience both a sense of surrender to and complete connection with the universe.
Dr. Richard Gerber, author of Vibrational Medicine addresses the influence of sound on the body in this manner: “ We know that sounds are stimulating and we also have the technology to be able, in fact, to recharge people with them… The ear, the vibration sensor, serves to charge the organism with electrical potential... The charge of energy obtained from the influx of nervous impulses reaches the cortex (of the brain), which then distributes it (the energy) throughout the body toning up the whole system and imparting greater dynamism to the human being.”
Nada Yoga means "union through sound." It is the ancient spiritual art and science of inner transformation through sound. This sound can be external, such as singing bowls, flutes etc., or internal, such as the sound of our breath or heart beating. In either case our mind becomes entrained and unified with the sound in such a manner that leads to an experience of bliss.
It is not uncommon for a person to feel while listening to the singing bowls, completely transported to another dimension while being aware of that which surrounds them. Some report that they could no longer tell the difference between their bodies and the sound… they were as one. The overall experience is often life transforming.
Diáne Mandle is a Certified Tibetan Bowl practitioner, teacher, recording artist and author. In addition to concerts nation wide, she has played in yoga classes for savasana and her CD, ‘Return to Om” is used during classes to help students focus and relax while holding asanas.
Says Mandle “Time and time again, people tell me that the sound of the Tibean bowls immediately launches them into a place of deep, intimacy with the divine. Even those who meditate regularly report a much deeper level of meditation faster with the bowls. And those who normally have trouble clearing their minds find themselves drawn into a meditation. For yoga students, the sound of the bowls helps to focus them on the meditation of yoga so that the positions seem to hold themselves.”
Lisa Johnson, Director of Bikram Yoga in Las Vegas plays her bowl at the end of every class. She tells the students in their final savasana to relax their bodies, to close their eyes and to look into their third eye and then up toward super consciousness. She asks them to listen to the vibration of the singing bowl and to allow the vibration to move up their bodies from the soles (souls) of their feet and to imagine a white healing light to travel with it all the way up through each chakra, opening the chakras and finally to the crown chakra and up and out into samadhi....
Johnson says “Through this experience the relationship of the bowl is key to the meditation. Helping them to focus on the sound vibration as a distraction to facilitate a higher level of consciousness. The bowl is simply another tool to help us on our path to enlightenment and goes hand in hand with the meditative aspect of yoga.”
Richard Rudis, founder of ‘Sacred Sound Workshops’, explains that most humans have lost the capacity to the experience ‘divine ecstasy’, which is at the core of all experience (phenomena). Says Rudis: “A journey of spiritual, physical and mental transformation is required to reconnect with that aspect of ourselves that is innately blissful, healthy and non-changing. Sacred Sound instruments, such as the Himalayan Singing Bowls, Gantas/Vajras and Tingsha’s are used to heighten the awareness of natural inner yoga’s focusing energies for the purpose of awakening chakra centers, balancing and harmonizing bodily functions, and dispelling negative emotions, (hindrances).”
Mandle explains that there are several techniques for using the bowls that are especially effective during yoga. The following is great in a small class. When a pose is assumed, the bowl is held (by the teacher) at the base of the spine and struck while slowly moving the bowl up the spine. This is repeated again in the front from the root chakra to the crown chakra. It is important that the bowl be held as close to the body as possible. This technique is deeply felt in the body and tends to quickly dissolve blockages and move energy.
Another technique is one Mandle calls ‘breathing the bowl’. This is a powerful technique that is best used at the start of the class. Ideally, everyone would have a bowl. However it can be done with the instructor holding one bowl for the group. First place the bowl in the palm of the flat hand and in front of the heart. Focus on establishing a long, slow rhythm of exhalations allowing the breath to have an audible ‘ah’.( as in the ocean breath) When the breath is established, gently begin to ‘sing’ the bowl- but keeping the focus on the breath. Use the entire arm, not just the wrist to ‘sing’ the bowl keeping the wooden stick firmly but gently married to the edge of the bowl as one rubs it around the rim until the sound comes up. Do this for several minutes. It may be necessary to increase the speed of the circumnavigations around the bowl to bring up the sound but this must be done while anchored to breath.
Diáne Mandle, author, teacher, healer and recording artist is based in Southern California. Certified in Tibetan Bowl Sound Healing and Polarity therapy Diáne maintains a private practice offering an integrated system for healing which includes Sound and Polarity Therapy, Toning and Visualization. She conducts educational programs, and Harmonic Sound Healing concerts nationally and presents frequently at the Deepak Chopra Center. She has produced two CD’s and the first comprehensive multimedia home study course in Sound Healing using Himalayan instruments (Tibetan, Nepalese and Bhutanese bowls, tingshas, gantas and dorjes) ‘Ancient Sounds for a New Age’, an E-Book/DVD/ CD set available on her website www.soundenergyhealing.com