Tingsha Bells: Healing Tones for Yoga Practice

This entry was posted on Jun 27, 2023 by Charlotte Bell.
Tingsha Bells

My introduction to Tingsha Bells was on the first five-day silent mindfulness retreat I attended in 1988. The bells announced the entire schedule of the day—wakeup time, each sitting and each walking meditation, yoga practice, meals and bedtime. When we heard the clear, dulcet tones of the bells, we knew it was time to move on to the next thing.

Also known as Tibetan chimes, Tibetan cymbals, or Kartals, Tingsha Bells are small, cymbal-shaped bells connected by a leather cord. Like cymbals, they sound when they strike each other. But unlike cymbals, they sound when the rims, rather than the flat surfaces, make contact. Tingsha Bells are also much thicker than percussion cymbals, giving the rims a rich sonority. The sound is a clear, high-pitched, long-ringing tone.

How to Use Tingsha Bells

Tingsha Bells originally come from Tibet. Often paired with variously pitched singing bowls, the bells are traditionally used in Buddhist meditation rituals. These days, yoga and meditation practitioners use them in a variety of ways. Following are some ways you can use these bells to enhance your yoga practice and teaching

Using Bells in Yoga and Meditation

  • Beginnings and endings in yoga classes: Some yoga teachers like to begin and end their classes with the sound of bells. It’s a lovely way to settle students onto their mats, and to set an intention to turn awareness inward. The bells can gently bring people out of Savasana (Relaxation Pose) as well.
  • Home practice: You need not be in a class setting to use Tingsha Bells to bookend your practice. Use them to mark the beginning and end of your own home yoga and meditation practice.
  • Sound healing: Sound is vibration. You’ve probably experienced, more than once, how a thumping bass line in music can vibrate in areas of the body other than your ears. The ability of sound to vibrate within the body is one of the reason most of us love listening to music. In the yoga system, different pitches are said to resonate with each of our chakras (energy centers). Because of their higher pitch, Tingsha Bells tend to vibrate the upper chakras. Yogic sound healing rituals combine Tingsha Bells with singing bowls of various pitches to “tune” the chakras.
  • Outdoor yoga and meditation: In the summer, I teach an outdoor mindfulness class at the local arboretum. In the class, we practice sitting and walking meditation. People often spread out during the walking period because there are so many beautiful places to practice. I use Tingsha Bells to notify people that walking meditation is over and it’s time to come back to our meeting place. Their high pitch cuts through other sounds and makes it easy to gather everyone together.
About Charlotte Bell
Charlotte Bell discovered yoga in 1982 and began teaching in 1986. Charlotte is the author of Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life: A Guide for Everyday Practice and Yoga for Meditators, both published by Rodmell Press. Her third book is titled Hip-Healthy Asana: The Yoga Practitioner’s Guide to Protecting the Hips and Avoiding SI Joint Pain (Shambhala Publications). She writes a monthly column for CATALYST Magazine and serves as editor for Yoga U Online. Charlotte is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, Charlotte plays oboe and English horn in the Salt Lake Symphony and folk sextet Red Rock Rondo, whose DVD won two Emmy awards in 2010.

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