RAMSEY, N.J. — Yoga teacher Mary Ann Gebhardt of Ramsey took what is traditionally the last 10 minutes of a yoga class — the part where you rest — and elevated it to an art form.
She offers entire classes in what she calls “yoga nidra sound healing,” which uses Nepalese singing bowls.
Many people, some with sleep, stress, and anxiety issues, seek her out.
Q. What does yoga nidra mean in Sanskrit?
A. Yoga means union. It is the mind/body connection. Nidra means to sleep. It’s that deep relaxation where you do nothing.
The belief is that an hour of yoga nidra is equivalent to four hours of sleep.
Q. Is yoga nidra something different than a regular yoga class?
A. No. The sole purpose of moving our bodies in yoga class is that we can come to stillness.
When you come to that place of quiet and ease, you turn on your body’s healing response. You also find answers because you quiet the mind.
Q. How did you start incorporating the singing bowls?
A. I have about 50 bowls. I brought them back from Nepal.
I learned to play them for myself. In 2012, I had abdominal surgery that kept me from being able to move. I would lie on my bed and put the large bowl on my stomach. I had a striker and I would play the bowl.
I kept saying to my body, ‘You’re going to be OK.’
Two weeks later, I was in the doctor’s office and I was able to get up off a chair. That’s when I knew there was something to the sound healing.
Q. How does sound heal?
A. When we’re in the womb, the vibration of sound is the first sense we use. The belief is that the sound made when you go around the rim of a bowl is the sound you hear when you are born.
Gebhardt teaches at Fitness and Spa for Women in Midland Park, Indian Trail Club in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey Women’s Wellness Center in Montvale, and Vista Natural Wellness Center in Oakland.
She also teaches at the Oakland Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, Mahwah Senior Citizen Center, and the Ridgewood Community School.
For a time she was affiliated with Englewood Hospital and Medical Center.