From crystal bowls to didgeridoos, sound healing has exploded over the past few years, and rightfully so. It’s a powerful way to reduce stress and calm the mind, allowing practitioners to sink into deep states of relaxation – which sounds like something that would be amazing to add to your yoga class!
Indigenous people around the world have used sound for centuries, incorporating sounds like drumming, hand-clapping, singing and dancing into traditional ceremonies.
The practice of sound healing uses sound waves and harmonic vibrations that affect the body through different tones and instruments, including the human voice.
These specific sounds help to harmonize our brainwaves through a technique called entrainment. Entrainment stabilizes fluctuating brainwaves by providing a stable frequency with which the brain can synchronize. By using rhythm and frequency, we can entrain our brainwaves and facilitate a shift from our normal brain state to relaxed levels of consciousness, which is where deep healing can occur. We typically operate in beta brain states and sound healing can move us into theta and delta brain states. These brain states are associated with the unconscious, deep relaxation and connection to the universe.
The concept of sound healing is essentially to heal the body through sound. Here are some common sound healing techniques that can be incorporated into a yoga class.
These metal bowls are one of the most popular methods of sound healing. They are relatively small and durable, which makes them both portable and effective. Typically you would incorporate a group of bowls and strike them each in a specific area to create a ringing sound. Each bowl has a different frequency and each frequency affects the body differently, providing healing and deep relaxation. In fact, Buddhist monks have used Tibetan singing bowls in meditation practice. Using a special mallet, you circle the ring of the bowl with pressure to create a singing sound. You can also tap the bowl with the mallet to create a tone. Each vibration has a purported different effect on the body. It may sound nice to simply play any bowl, but a proper training in sound healing will help you to understand what each bowl does to the body and attune your offering from there.
These beautiful sound bowls are another popular yoga choice. Similar to your favorite yoga jewelry or mala beads, these bowls are made out of crystal, which gives each bowl a unique frequency and power. Similar to Tibetan bowls, you would use a special mallet to play specific harmonies to affect different parts of the body – so a sound healing training is very helpful. As they are incredibly beautiful to look at, these bowls are often larger, expensive and quite fragile. If you aren’t ready to invest in a set of bowls or don’t want to learn to play them, you can also simply play a singing bowl recording on your playlist – which is a wonderful addition to any yoga class.
An integral part of music since the beginning of time, drums create a beat that allows us to harmonize our brains. Research actually shows that rhythmic energy like drumming synchronizes the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Although they can be more energizing than relaxing, drums are a powerful healing tool. If you are musically inclined, adding drums to your class could be a novel way to incorporate sound healing and potentially increase your class attendance – live drumming is a great way to draw a crowd. If playing music isn’t your thing, finding a tribal drum track to add to your playlist will have similar effects.
Singing and chanting are two keys ways that the human voice can be used to heal. Mantra is a technique where a specific word or phrase is sung aloud or chanted, often repeatedly. Repeating a mantra focuses the mind, which reduces stress and anxiety. The most well known yoga mantra is the classic two letter sound “Om”, which is considered to be the sound of the universe and represents our connection with the divine. Yoga styles like Ashtanga and Jivamukti both incorporate mantra chanting into their classes. The call and repeat practice of kirtan is a great way to incorporate the healing power of chanting into classes. If you’re comfortable with singing, your voice can be an incredible tool used to help students relax before, during or at the end of class. Even chanting Om with your students can provide a huge benefit! If singing or chanting in public isn’t your forte (which is absolutely understandable) – you can simply play mantra songs in class and receive benefits that way as well. As most mantras are in Sanskrit, it’s important to have some knowledge about the mantras or songs that you are playing or chanting in class as students will often as you what the mantra means. Once you’ve learned enough about them, you can even tailor your class around a specific mantra if you wanted to take it to that level.
These are the easiest and most common ways you can layer sound healing into your classes. If you’re into music, two other popular yoga instruments are the didgeridoo, a giant long flute with a deep, earthy base tone and the koshi bell, a beautiful and small chime that makes a heavenly sound. With some training, both of these can be played in different part of class or even used skillfully over students’ chakras to relax them and stimulate healing. Overall sound healing is an excellent addition to any yoga class and goes a long way to de-stressing your students and providing a nurturing yoga experience. In essence, even simple sound healing techniques can add a layer of additional benefits beyond the effects of the yoga poses and breath work to benefit your students and help them to feel amazing during and after class