The great thing about running a business in 2018 is the fact that my clients can communicate with me at any time of the day or night by booking appointments, messaging or emailing me. My challenge is to limit myself to the number of times I check my phone per day, so that my brain and eyes get some screen downtime. I leave my phone in the kitchen when I go to bed and I try not to look at my phone prior to my daily morning meditation, so that my brain remains somewhat clear for that time. However, this morning, I couldn’t help myself. I checked my phone and found a wonderful message there from a beautiful client; a really radiant, smiley, I’m glad she’s in the world kinda girl. She sent photos of her beautiful baby and described a little bit about how yoga had helped her through her recent labour:
“Thank you so much for being a part of my journey, yoga definitely got me through those last few weeks (of pregnancy) and helped with the amazing, incredible, extremely tough experience of labour. I was making noises that reminded me of the singing bowl (LOL!)…”
For those of you who haven’t participated in a Yoga class with me or experienced a massage, I always end those two experiences by playing one of my Tibetan Singing Bowls. Here’s a link to a video so you can watch one being played if you haven’t seen it before. Given this Chill Mama’s reaction to the singing bowl and how it helped her through her labour I thought I’d explain a little bit about what the bowl is and why I use it.
Tibetan singing bowls are said to have been in existence since 560-480 B.C and are part of the Buddhist tradition. The bowls produce sounds which can invoke a deep state of relaxation, stress reduction, healing and balancing. Playing the bowl can have a very immediate centering effect on whomever is listening, probably due to the body’s neural interpretation of the vibration. When you think about it (cast your mind back to year 10 science), all the world and us within it are just matter; atoms with electrons and protons zooming around causing vibration at different frequencies. The vibration of the bowl helps our body to tune into a more calming frequency that can be deeply relaxing. It can be a great way to come out of meditation or massage.
What I find fascinating is that kids LOVE the bowls and the sounds they make. When I’m teaching outdoor #freeyogafriday, the tiny people are often running around playing or crawling all over their Mums as they are attempting a calming savasana, but as soon as the bowl starts humming, they all stop dead in their tracks and look straight towards it, motionless until the hum is finished and then back to their playing they go.
Now, making sounds in labour that sound like a tibetan singing bowl is a whole new phenomenon for me, but it is not surprising. When women are supported to find (rather than instructed to do) their most comfortable and comforting positions and things for labour, they will always revert back to past experiences that made them feel relaxed and comfortable. This is why music and aromatherapy can be such powerful allies in the birthing room and why the PRACTICING of yoga positions, breathing and meditation prior to birth, is important. So for this Chill Mama, to her surprise, her body chose the comfort of the sound of vibration through vocalisation. The great thing about this is that vocalising helps to loosen the mouth and throat – this has a direct impact on everything in “the downstairs region” or as the great Ina May Gaskin says “loose lips, loose hips”. This loosening and relaxing is a wonderful way to assist baby to make her way out during birth and if the reaction of the kids at #freeyogafriday is anything to go by, this Mamas gentle vocal vibration would have been a welcoming calm for her baby on her difficult journey to the outside world. As this Daddy so beautifully displays in this video babies respond to calming vibration, in this instance to what the ancient Yogi’s described as “the sound of the universe”: OM.
So if you are pregnant, take some time to practice how the sound of OM feels in your body. It can be as quiet as whispering or loud enough to wake the neighbours, whatever floats your boat. If you have a newborn, see if they respond to the sound of OM, particularly while they are lying on your chest. Vocalising in this way is not for everybody, but for this Chill Mama, it was a surprising and welcome addition to her toolkit to help her and her baby to negotiate the waves of labour.
© Amy Vaccaro for Chill Mama Wellness, 21st August, 2018.