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Hitting the Right Note

Lull your students into deeper relaxation by integrating singing bowls to your teaching.

By Sara Avant Stover

Dietz plays the bowls during the invocation of Om at the beginning and end of her classes and while her students rest in Savasana (Corpse Pose).

Perry suggests using a bowl before discussing the philosophical aspects of yoga as "a way of attuning us to the inner worlds."

"Producing one single sound allows us to withdraw from all the challenges of the modern, busy world and to focus on one simple thing that needn't be demanding at all." he says.

Jo Griffith, an Anusara-inspired teacher and the yoga director at Chicago's Ruby Room, plays the studio's seven crystal singing bowls (each one a different size and said to tune a specific chakra) at the end of her classes.

"They are great for drawing people inside," Griffith says. "I think they enable you to internalize the practice to a greater degree and to keep the effects with you longer."

Don't Overdo It

Like all good things, singing bowls generate more impact when used sparingly and deliberately.

"The bowls are like nothing you have ever heard before and can be very intense, confrontational, and even invasive," Dietz warns. "Be aware of students' reactions. Tone it down if you need to, and reassure any agitated students."

She also points out that students with metal pins or stainless steel ball joints may experience pain or discomfort when hearing the bowls.

Perry agrees that not everyone enjoys the sounds of a singing bowl. "Some people may dislike a high tone, while others may be afraid of low tones. Modern machine-made bowls will sound 'tinny' compared to older antique bowls, and this could make some participants edgy."

Itís also important to be mindful that the instrument has the potential to become a distraction if it is overused, Perry says. To avoid this, he advises beginning by practicing alone to acquaint yourself with your bowl, and to discern how it would be of most service to your students.

"The act of playing a bowl requires considerable concentration in order to avoid unpleasant sounds," he advises. "Therefore, playing a bowl improves one's concentration [by cutting] through the mind-chatter and pointing toward meditative states."

Griffith adds that using the bowls while students are engaged in the more active portion of class could be a mistake. "I definitely would not use them during a time that [the students] would need to hear instruction from me," she says.

Donít let these warnings be too daunting, though. Read on to find out how to masterfully integrate singing bowls into your teaching.

Tips for Fine-Tuning
  1. Do your research. There are lots of bowls on the market. Take the time to find one that meets your needs and is of good quality. Determine the material that you would like the bowl to be made out of, the size, and the pitch (be sure to choose a pitch that you find soothing). Consider how you will use this bowl. You will need a louder bowl if you are teaching to large groups, for instance. If you need to transport it to and from classes, you'll need a smaller bowl that is not too heavy.
  2. Place them with care. In the case of crystal bowls, know that they may shatter if several are playing in a small room. Place the bowls at least 12 inches apart.
  3. Experiment. Practice on your own at first, and then take the plunge by bringing the bowls into class. Experiment to see how playing them can best enhance your students' experiences.
  4. Let students know what to expect. Tell students that you will be playing singing bowls and that the sounds may create sensations in their bodies. Advise students to be aware of and to receive the effects. Then, let them experience for themselves the magical realm of healing sounds.
Sara Avant Stover is a freelance writer and yoga instructor who specializes in women's yoga. She teaches internationally in the United States, Asia, and Europe and currently lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Visit her website at www.fourmermaids.com.

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Reader Comments

john jadryev

I found a cd, "xumantra - singing bowls". it contains digital recordings of himalayan singing bowls, authentic old voices presented in harmonically-matched sets. the students love it at the end of class.

Mara Pavia

Tibetan Singing bowls harmonize with our inset range of tuning that is defined by the internal unstruck sound heard only from the very core of each being's heart. According to Pythagorus' idea presented through the Music of the Spheres, harmony recognizes harmony in the world of vibrational frequency... which all "matter" can be traced back to. I play 9-10 singing bowls during classes, working with the energy of the teacher and the energy of the students to balance the chakras and take everyone deeper into the real practice of yoga. It is a privilege to be able to serve in this way and is greatly enjoyed by the whole khula! (lots of healing properties)!

Carmen Dapat

Tibetan singing bowls possess a primal sound that transcends our physical world and speaks our internal language. Beautiful, ancient, reflective and healing...

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