Some yoga classes use meditative music, some play hip-hop and others use your breath as the only background noise, but what if your yoga studio hummed? Not as in playing the kazoo or your instructor humming whatever is stuck in their head — but what if the actual room you practiced in seemed to hum?
That’s the concept of Humming Puppy, which has locations in Melbourne, Sydney and New York City. The yoga practice rooms are designed to be minimal with no distractions of bright lights, mirrors or art work, explains COO and co-founder Jackie Koch. “Combined with intentional subtle lighting, this allows students to drop into a meditative state of being as soon as they enter the room,” she says.
THE BRAINWAVE-FREQUENCY CONNECTION
And then there’s the humming sound. The room is injected with a combination of frequencies to “enhance and deepen” your experience, Koch says. They specifically use 7.83 hertz to “ground” your experience and 40 hertz, which they say is associated with brain waves that help you achieve peak performance.
First off, 7.83 hertz is known as the Schumann Resonance. This is the frequency of the earth’s magnetic field, hence many associate it with a feeling of “grounding.” It’s also the frequency of brain waves at the low end of the alpha range. “The human mind is in its most relaxed state when the alpha range of brain waves is dominant,” explains Lee Bartel, PhD, professor emeritus of music at University of Toronto and founding director of the Music and Health Research Collaboratory.
“Music at that rate may contribute to a state of relaxation in the mind and help you de-stress,” he adds.
As for 40 hertz, that is in the gamma range. Gamma brain waves play a role in memory and concentration. “The brain-wave frequency at which the brain connects circuits is in the gamma range, which is 30–90 hertz,” Bartel says.
Some studies have found stimulating the brain with gamma waves may improve memory — in those with Alzheimer’s disease. Earlier research found long-time meditators may generate higher levels of gamma waves compared to non-meditators.
SHOULD YOU TRY A HUMMING STUDIO?
Although it sounds cool and Humming Puppy worked with acoustic engineers, it’s unclear if a humming studio will do anything for you.
“Can sound stimulate brain activity? Definitely yes. But the frequency of that stimulation varies with what the desired brain effect is. It’s hard to generalize one-size-fits-all frequency,” Bartel says. “Sending a 40-hertz hum or pulse into the room is probably not a harmful thing, but we aren’t sure how good it is, particularly in healthy people.”
And 40 hertz and 10 hertz — rather than the mystical 7.83 — have more scientific evidence of brain benefits, he adds.
But if the humming and overall vibe of a dimly lit studio with no mirrors helps you relax and focus solely on your yoga practice, it’s certainly not a bad thing.