Singing Bowls in Yoga Practice
Singing bowls, sometimes called Tibetan singing bowls have been used for centuries in many countries for healing and relaxation and for meditation. They are also known as Himalayan singing bowls. The bowls are traditionally made out of a unique metal alloy that consists of several different kinds of metal. Tradition states that singing bowls are constructed of gold, silver, mercury, copper, iron, tin and lead. It is said that these seven metals correspond to the sun and the moon in addition to the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Modern manufactured bowls can be constructed of copper, bronze, brass, and even crystal quartz. Some may be made of an underlying metal alloy which has been plated with gold or silver.
You can play singing bowls by striking them with various mallets, or by the friction of rubbing a wood, plastic, or leather wrapped mallet around the rim of the bowl similar to how you might make a crystal glass sing by rubbing your finger along the top of the glass. The sound that is produced is a continuous singing sound with different overtones and harmonics. However, singing bowls are unique in the sense that they are multi-phonic type instruments. Tibetan singing bowls are not difficult to learn to play and the more they are played, the better they sound.
What makes singing bowls excellent for yoga practice is that the sound waves and multiple harmonics coming from the bowls resonate with our bodies. Certain altered brain states operate at different frequencies than normal consciousness, and singing bowls are known to resonate at those same frequencies. The effect can cause you to be transported to another dimension allowing your body and mind to become one with itself. In fact, at least one cancer center is using singing bowls to help cancer patients. One can experience a large number of overtones that enable the alpha waves in our brain to focus energy to heal our bodies. For this reason singing bowls are gaining popularity in western cultures.
To use singing bowls in your yoga practice, you need to hold the singing bowl in one hand and then gently strike the side of the bowl with the mallet using your other hand. As you listen to the sound of the bowl, you will notice that there is a primary tone, but you will also begin to hear the harmonics of other tones as well. As you relax your mind will begin to work differently than before and the sounds entering your body will help you to heal. As your body begins to relax, you then take the mallet and run it around the rim of the bowl causing the vibrations in the bowl to continue to sing. The friction of the mallet is what produces the continuous singing and associated overtones.
Tibetan singing bowls look a bit like a normal bowl, but they are really bells that ring. Unlike traditional bells such as church bells that hang, singing bowls are used with the rim of the bowl up. Authentic antique singing bowls can be like old friends with unique qualities we can recognize.
If you are having good success with your normal yoga meditation, but think there may something more, then singing bowls may be the key. There is something mystical about singing bowls that helps direct our minds more than any other type of external stimuli. Some yoga practitioners report that the singing bowls have quite an effect on their ability to focus during meditation and they are able to achieve relaxation faster and deeper than before. If you find you have trouble focusing during mediation then the sound of the singing bowls can help you focus much easier.
Some singing bowls can be rather expensive. Especially the authentic bowls made with metal. Newer bowls are manufactured with machines that may give them a more finished surface, and in fact, are a little easier to play. However, the handmade bowls originally used by Tibetans all have a unique character that can't be duplicated. Because of that, the expense is much higher for genuine antique bowls. But dating antique bowls is difficult, and hand-hammered new bowls have the same intricate sound as antique singing bowls. More and more yoga studios are getting singing bowls.
Most people recognize the importance of meditation as part of your yoga routine because of the mental and physical benefits to your body. Sometimes though, we need a little help to get there, and using singing bowls in your yoga practice can provide that extra help to reach the mental state required to achieve the maximum benefit to your routine. Using the singing bowls is a fantastic way to help your mind and body what it needs today.
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