singing bowl healing|yogi surprise

5 Ways a Singing Bowl Can Benefit Your Home Practice

I remember the first time I heard a singing bowl

I was still fairly new to yoga, and still getting used to the entire vibe and all of the accouterments that were commonplace in the yoga world realm.  The instructor, Christina, had an ethereal energy and I was enthralled with her. We were in a silent savasana, and I was dwelling somewhere in between the plains of awake and asleep. And then I heard it. One clear, bright, soul-stirring sound. One note. It not only brought me back to awareness of my surroundings. It touched on something deep. Something I didn't know I could feel.

As I found my way back to a seat and listened to her words of wisdom and encouragement, I could still feel that singular note resonating within. Everyone around me began rolling up their mats and putting props back in their proper place. But I didn't want to move. I wanted to be with this new, exciting feeling.

Eventually, I packed up too. But before I left the space, I asked Christina about the sound and how she created it. She smiled and signaled for me to follow her to the front of the studio. She handed me the bowl and mallet, encouraging me to try it out. My first attempt did not produce anything other than a clunking noise. She laughed and showed me how to hold it delicately in the palm of my hand. She encouraged a confident yet gentle touch. I tried again. This time, I received a song. But it didn't sound the same as what she produced.

She explained the singing bowl is capable of many notes depending on where exactly contact is made and how it's made and by whom. She equated it to playing any instrument. She compared it to a guitar and how depending on who's playing, it can sound incredibly different and evoke totally unique emotions.

I was blown away by this, and officially hooked.

5 Ways to Include a Singing Bowl in Your Practice

If you already have a home practice, then you're likely always looking for new ways to give it more meaning. Singing Bowls offer a myriad of benefits.

  • mental clarity
  • calming the central nervous system
  • improving concentration
  • inspiring internal vibrations and a deeper connection to your chakra system

Once you begin to incorporate them on a regular basis, you'll likely find the benefits increase.

Try any of these 5 ways to incorporate a singing bowl into your yoga practice

  1. Use it at the very beginning of your practice so your brain and internal system respond with readiness. It's a learned indication it's now time to practice.
  2. Use it at the end of practice in the same way. It offers a conclusion that resonates even after you've stepped away from your mat. Try choosing a number of times you'll ring the bowl. Once may be enough, but if your lucky number is 3, go with that.
  3. Use your singing bowl in harmony with other singing bowls. Collect a variety of sizes and bowls made with different materials to evoke a symphony that you create.
  4.  If you're practicing slower yin or hatha-style, you could ring the singing bowl between each pose or mini-sequence to reset and refresh your attention.
  5. Use a singing bowl before attempting postures that are difficult or not yet obtainable. Ring the bowl to indicate to yourself that you can embrace any challenge that comes your way.

If you've never tried it, I'm already so excited for you. Who knows what kind of reactions and emotions lay in wait that you've yet to feel.

 


rituals home practice|yogi surprise

Developing Rituals to Enhance Your Home Yoga Practice

Spend a few moments describing your personal yoga practice to yourself. Write it down if you're game for that. Or do this exercise with a friend. What are the non-negotiables? Do you absolutely require a mat and bolster? Inside or outside? Do you bathe first? Is time of day important? Our personal practice gets to be all about us and the rituals we involve are what make it both special and consistent.

A friend of mine practices every day at 6:24 a.m. This is the time she was born, so she practices at that time to remind herself that she is, every day, again reborn and the world of opportunity and exploration lay in adventurous wait for her.

Rituals keep us grounded and connected. They shape our sense of self and honor our singular perspective on the world 

 
Rituals can be actions you take or involve touchstones and symbols. I have a regular student who comes to class twenty minutes early so she can claim her spot and set up crystals at all four corners of her mat. One rose quartz to remind her to be loving. One green jade to help her focus and build mental strength. One citrine for self-confidence and one malachite for courage. She meditates as others filter in, ignoring the noise and bustle to prepare herself for the journey she's about to embark on.

Rituals can bring your yoga practice to the next level 

 
They give everything just a little bit more texture and meaning. Say, for instance, you and your kids walk up to the local bagel shop to buy breakfast every Sunday morning. The owners know your order by heart, and it's a ritual within itself to take this walk together every Sunday for sustenance. Adding in a few rituals on the walk can give this practice even more meaning. Stopping to play with a neighbor's dog, naming the trees and thanking them for existing, or even playing a word game contribute so much to what could be a routine walk to and fro.
When we practice with intention and go the extra steps to cultivate meaning into our every action, we discover uncharted territory each and every time we come to our proverbial mat.

Where to start? 

 
Start by developing a 'Let's Begin' ritual. If you plan to practice in the morning, choose something you do immediately upon waking up. Perhaps you write down your gratitude list. Or maybe you dry brush and lather in sesame oil, and then cleanse. Enjoy and combining that ritual while practicing the niyama of saucha, purity is an incredible way to place yourself in the frame of mind to be the most receptive version of yourself.
You could choose to do a guided meditation or mudra practice. Choosing rituals that speak to your heart will provide you with a consistent way to signal to your brain that it's practice time and it's the priority. Rituals are a form of self-care. Take the time to take care of you.

Maintenance

In combination with your let's begin ritual, choosing a specific place to practice helps too. Setting up a practice space in your home by creating an altar for yourself is a lovely way to encourage your continued practice each and every time you encounter that space. If you have the luxury of an entire room available to you, foster the ambiance with candles, essential oils and incense, props, and perhaps a book from which you can go to any passage for inspiration.
Three books to consider:  The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz, The Fire of Loveby world-renowned yoga teacher Aadil Palkhivala, and Pema Chodron's  Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living.  You really can't go wrong with any of Pema's books.
If you love practicing outside when the weather allows, identify an alternate space that feels harmonious and conducive to your practice. You can travel there with your touchstones for continuity. The old saying, 'Wherever you go, there you are' comes to mind. Bring your you-ness no matter where you choose to practice.
Writing this has inspired me to further develop new rituals of my own. Just like us, the practice morphs constantly. But rituals remind us of the pillars and tenants that will always be near and so very dear to our hearts.