Yoga & Sound
I’ve been exploring the connection between yoga and sound healing in workshops for a couple of years now. It’s a fascinating combination, and clients often report deeply relaxing experiences. I’ve collaborated with a range of sound healers; those using ancient instruments like the didgeridoo or gongs, as well as the more modern quartz crystal bowls. What they all have in common is that they enable the body to release lower frequency alpha and theta brainwaves, having a calming affect on the autonomic nervous system, inducing deep relaxation and reducing physical or emotional pain.
Of course, yoga and sound is nothing new. There is an ancient branch of yoga called Nada Yoga, ‘the yoga of sound’. Its path to Samadhi is through the repetition of mantra; the singing of devotional songs and/or meditating on pure sounds.
In Nada Yoga, there are two types of sound: internal (anahata) and external (ahata). With a focused mind and controlled breath, concentration on external sounds allows the mind to become quiet and the attention to shift inwards so that the practitioner can listen to their own anahata sound. Anahata means ‘heart’, and this part of the body is considered responsible for the reception of this internal music. According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (HYP), our internal sounds can be heard as the following; “..In the beginning: ocean, cloud, drum. In the middle: drum and conch, bell & drum. In the end: tinkling bell, flute and bee.” (HYP 4:85-86).
Nada Yoga is based on the premise that the entire universe and everything in it (including us) consists of sound vibrations, and by using particular resonances we can come to a place of pure health and awareness. Quantum physics has now proven that matter and sound are intimately connected. Science shows that not only does everything in the universe possess a basic vibration and interact with other vibrational fields, but that vibration affects matter. In essence, everything is made of energy, all energy is vibration, and vibrations affect other vibrations.
The results of various research studies have shown that our brain waves can be modified by externally produced sound frequencies through a process called entrainment - when the frequency of one object synchronises with the frequency of another. This means sound can be used to tune brainwaves to specific frequencies to achieve desired states of mind. Additionally, separate brain cells are often tuned to different frequencies resulting in chaotic and disharmonious thought patterns, but when subjected to one external frequency, such as the sound of a gong, they can synchronise to resonate in unity.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that as we are made up of 60% water, which makes an ideal conductor for sound waves, the water in the cells of our body will resonate to these various frequencies. The below picture shows water’s ‘harmonious’ response to 432Hz vs a frequency of 440Hz. It doesn't take a huge leap of faith to understand the affects that resonance/disharmony may have within the body and brain.
Nada Yoga is described in the HYP as one of the most powerful and effective meditation techniques to calm the mind. So, once again we draw on this ancient wisdom in our modern yoga practice to find peace and balance in our lives x