Successfully designing a unique yoga studio (shala) around auditory stimuli - a ‘hum’ to encourage students to mindfully experience a deeper practice - was the beginning of an Australian business brand that has gone global.
In the original Humming Puppy Yoga Studio in busy inner-city Melbourne, the founders created a shala with black interiors, minimal lighting and a reverberating ringing sound, created by Himalayan crystal singing bowls tuned to different chakra (energy) points in the body.
Arup’s acoustics team provided a total solution to realise the concept of the humming shala by minimising external noise, composing the hum and designing the audio system.
A recording of the singing bowls was tuned to specific frequencies to support practice and promote ‘grounding’, resulting in a sound that is still true to its original organic source.
Following Melbourne’s success, new studios opened in Sydney and New York. The hum is integral to all studios and is synonymous with the Humming Puppy brand. The ‘humming’ is self-explanatory, the ‘puppy’ is a nod to one of yoga’s most widely recognised poses, the adho mukha śvānāsana or downward-facing dog.
3 yoga studios in Melbourne, Sydney and New York
40Hz is the fundamental tone of the hum
7.83Hzis the frequency of the Earth
Conceived by founders Jackie Alexander and Chris Koch, the vision of Humming Puppy is to inject vibration into the shala to align energy within the body to enhance meditation.
Preparing the studio to control external noise emissions was integral to the success of the Humming Puppy concept. The original studio’s site was problematic for sound control - above a fitness gym and next to a dance studio - and required extensive noise mitigation. Another noise challenge that would negatively impact yoga classes was rain on the iron clad roof.
Increasingly at Arup, we’re moving away from a traditional engineering acoustic approach of simply trying to minimise noise and reduce unwanted sounds. We are delving more into this space of experience, like we did with Humming Puppy. ”Mitchell Allen Soundscape Designer
Arup’s SoundLab, a soundproofed space that lets clients experience true-to-life sound auralisations, was the starting place for creating the unique hum. The Himalayan crystal singing bowls were recorded in the Melbourne SoundLab, then detuned and engineered to form the hum in collaboration with Jackie and Chris.
Sound specialist Mitch Allen detuned the recording to 40 Hz and then modulated the amplitude of the wave at a period of 7.83 Hz. This frequency is known as the Schumann Resonance, which is often referred to as the frequency of the Earth. A pulsating singing bowl strike of 12 cycles per minute, which corresponds to the period of an ocean wave and a human at rest, was also incorporated into the hum to promote relaxation. Humming Puppy chose these vibrations to guide the mind to reach higher states of consciousness including intuition, creativity and insight.
These combined elements were curated to reflect the Humming Puppy concept. On entering any of the three shalas, the resonating hum helps students to drop into their yoga practice more immediately and deeply.
The hum in Humming Puppy has become a unique aspect of what we do. Arup has been integral in creating our studios to be really unique and very different. ” Jackie Alexander Co-founder, Humming Puppy Yoga Studio
The system’s user interface is a tablet device, and a simple touch starts and stops the humming. The sound system is housed behind a cupboard door, away from sight. Our discreet design for Humming Puppy complements the brand’s minimal interior, removing distractions so students can focus on their practice.
Two subwoofers have been specified to reproduce the low frequencies of the hum with clarity, creating a beautiful, enveloping sound environment that defines the experience of entering a Humming Puppy shala.