Looking for a way to hit pause and clear your mind? Take a cue from ancient Buddhist monks by giving singing bowls a try.
Though most commonly known for its prominence in Tibet, Nepal and India, the ancient singing-bowl meditative practice has been part of cultures around the world for thousands of years. The sound the bowls produce can help people restore their sense of groundedness, invoke feelings of well-being and reduce stress.
“The gentle sound and vibrations from singing bowls calms the mind, harmonizes the body and restores the soul,” said Jamie Schmiling, instructor and owner of Roots Yoga and Healing in Algoma. “The range of sounds can release deep physical tension, relieve mental and emotional stress, and remove energetic blockages.”
Listening to singing bowls can also influence blood pressure. According to a study discussed in the American Journal of Health Promotion, a detectable reduction in systolic blood pressure occurred after a 12-minute relaxation session that incorporated the sound of singing bowls.
Other benefits include reducing anxiety, clearing negative energy, stimulating the immune system and improving blood flow and circulation.
“Singing bowls really help to ground, center and harmonize the mind and body,” Schmiling said. “In our world of uncertainty, stress and information overload, it’s important to disconnect and come back to being grounded and centered.”
The earthy materials that make up the bowls – an alloy of copper, tin, zinc, iron, lead, gold and silver – represent the seven chakras of the body. The bowls’ curved walls – when struck with a wool padded mallet – produce low, hypnotic tones resembling an “ohm” sound, which is often used as a supportive tool during yoga and meditation sessions to instill peace, positivity and relaxation. Singing bowls can be played directly on the body during an individual sound massage, or in a group healing-arts class such as those that Roots Yoga and Healing hosts.
The studio offers a class called Sunday Restorative + Sound that’s open to all ability levels and combines light stretching, yoga and meditation with Peter Hess singing bowls. It seeks to provide a mindful, relaxing experience for all on the mat.
“The studio is a serene and nurturing environment, allowing participants to detach from the outside world,” Schmiling said. “I love working with singing bowls. Some people feel really relaxed, and some feel recharged.”
One important aspect of the class is its size, which is limited to a dozen participants per session. The small-group setting promotes optimal comfort and focus, and there’s also plenty of space in which to move and participate.
The class begins with meditation to clear the mind and center the body, then continues with simple stretches, connecting movements and gentle breaths. Soon, it transitions into restorative yoga, giving the body an opportunity to rest and recover, and there’s ample time to stretch slowly between each pose.
Participants may then relax in Savasana, a resting pose, for 30-45 minutes by using props, blankets and lavender eye pillows. The class concludes with the tranquil sounds of the singing bowls.
“Most describe feeling relaxed, grounded and peaceful after an experience with singing bowls,” Schmiling said. “I also enjoy taking a few minutes out of my day to play the singing bowls in my hands for a quick self-care session.”
Though self-care is an important aspect of singing bowls, the benefits vary for each person.
“Depending on the day and what stress level they are at, each individual session or class experience can have a different outcome for people,” Schmiling said. “I’ve had clients experience the best night of sleep they’ve had in a long time. Some felt lighter and more energetic, and others could feel that energetic blockages were removed.”
The next Sunday Restorative + Sound session will be held May 22, 2-3:30 pm, at Roots Yoga and Healing, 417 Steele St. in Algoma. The class is $20, and participants must register in advance at rootsyogamindbody.com.