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Have you ever experienced a sound bath? It’s not what it sounds like—there is no water involved! Sound Baths take you on an acoustic journey that uses vibrations and frequencies tuned specifically to help the mind and body relax. It’s a practice in presence, listening, being, and allowing, much like meditation. Certain sounds activate our body’s natural healing systems, regulate our body’s processes, and get us to brain states that give us all the benefits traditional meditation can—the better sleep, mood, focus, clarity, energy, and much more.
If you have found meditation to be useful in trying times, right now is an incredible time to also try virtual sound baths to receive the deep sound healing benefits. As many of us are processing a variety of emotions as a collective—stress, worry, fear, anxiety, uncertainty—we can start to cause long term damage to our bodies, especially to our immune and nervous systems. Giving ourselves self-care in a way that is easy, non-intrusive, and simple, can be the perfect way to help your body restore.
This experience can be deeply healing, emotional, peaceful, centering, spiritual, and yes, you may fall asleep! There is no “normal” experience, and each time is different. It’s common to feel heat energy move through the body, feel tingling, hot or cold, feel and see colors, and get messages through beautiful visuals. It can be described as a deeply spiritual experience.
Sound is the most ancient form of healing—think of the use of voice dating back to ancient times. Throughout every known culture, we’ve used some form of sound to express joy, grief, anger, and love. It is the most primal form of expression that connects our body, mind, and soul. It is the same way singing and music has the ability to evoke emotions, memories, and connection; we seek it to find comfort, solace, and energize.
Often in times of high stress our body goes through a physiological strain, where essentially our heart and muscles are working harder than they need to, constricting our breathing, lessening the healing functions of our nervous system, and overtaxing our adrenal system. This over-activation puts you in a constant “flight or flight” mode. Research has shown that sound vibrations and frequencies send signals to our body and brain that slow down our stress response. Our bodies are in a constant state of deciding if it is in danger and tends to overwork itself, and when we send a signal that basically says, “Hey, you are okay”, it takes us out of the flight and fight mode and into a state of relaxation.
Sound vibrations and frequencies also help slow down some of our automatic functions and get us to a restoration state. In rest, we’re able to optimize our body, both produce and absorb important feel good hormones, and relax. Sound, music, and frequency therapies all utilize deep knowledge of brain waves, neurological pathways, emotional healing, energy, and pain processing in the practices. Experiencing a sound bath helps bring back the body and brain’s vibrations to an equilibrium state. For an active mind, the sounds bring the mind to rest; for a slower mind, the sounds awaken. When a balance is reached, we get something known as “the dream state.” In this space, it feels like that spot in between being asleep and awake—in between consciousness and in harmony.
The beautiful art of sound alchemy is practiced by healers, therapists, doctors, musicians, and more. Practitioners curate an experience that weaves together the art of the entrainment journey of a sound bath—which has a beginning, middle, and an end.
The instruments used in a sound bath are carefully selected; crystal bowls, chimes, and other instruments will emit a different frequency and vibration depending on what it is made of. For example, alchemy bowls use beautiful mineral compositions, and based on a specific composition, will have a unique electromagnetic transference than another bowl that is of another combination and size. Gongs have measurable frequencies that also talk to different parts of the body. Music research shows certain notes and combinations activate different parts of the body. The beauty of sound alchemy is that the possibilities are endless!
There are several ways to experience a virtual sound bath. Here are a few recommendations on how to prepare and participate.
1. Set the mood. Much like meditation, find a comfortable place you can be for the duration of the sound bath. Cozy suggestions include blankets, pillows, jammies, kitties, puppies, dimmed lights, candles, and aromatherapy.
2. It’s a great idea to turn off distractions, silence your phones, and place your devices where you can be hands-free to experience the sound bath.
3. Use headphones. The nuances of the frequencies travel better virtually through headphones or external speakers. You’ll also be able to control the volume to your liking.
4. Come with an open mind and heart. Each experience is different. Allow yourself to be present and give yourself permission to surrender. If thoughts and emotions come up, they’re a part of it. Let them come and let them flow through. Like in yoga, this is a practice. Be nice to yourself.
5. Post care: Drinks lots of water and ground yourself before you do anything else. A cup of hot tea, a nice bath, or journaling are a few favorite integrations.
6. Share with a friend and family!
1. Find a sound bath with a learned practitioner. There are many intricacies of frequencies, brain states, and music that sound artists curate with an immense level of mindfulness and care. Experiencing a beautifully curated sound bath with an incredible practitioner will make a difference.
2. Experience a sound bath that is streaming with great sound quality. Due to the nuances of how sounds travel through a lot of online platforms, you want to make sure you’re receiving the same frequencies that are being sent to you with a practitioner who has set up their online streaming with care.
3. Find sound baths that are at least 10 minutes or longer. Quick experiences are great, but to get a full feel of the sound bath, aim to attend something between 30 minutes to 1 hour in length.
4. Try a few different styles of sound baths! Each has a unique feel and flavor; experiment with what instruments resonate with you.
5. And of course, when you can, experience a sound bath in person!
If you’re a commitment-phobe like me, you probably understand the stress of searching for the perfect gym or studio membership. When offices were open and I commuted to and from work, I especially struggled. Do I find a studio near work or home? If it’s near my office, I can go after work, but what about weekends? I don’t want to do that commute when I don’t have to!
Then, add on the fitness type decision and try not to let your head explode. What if I get bored of cycling and want to try something else? What if I get super sore after HIIT and need a yoga class? Do I need to become a member at multiple locations?
Maybe this is just a me problem... but I don’t think it is. I mean, that’s why the Mindbody app exists in the first place—so you can try out different classes and studios, commitment-free. Although it’d be nice if one membership could cover multiple fitness types, at some point, picking your favorite and committing just makes sense.
So, how do you choose the perfect gym membership for you?
What are you looking for in a gym, studio, or health club? What do you care most about? Is it a smaller, intimate workout setting with instructors who know you by name? A larger studio with tons of fitness classes throughout the day, so you can always find one to fit your schedule? What about the staff? Are there certain qualities you’re looking for in your instructors? Do you prefer soft encouragement while you exercise, or instructors who aren’t afraid to push you harder during training? Think about your routine. Do you prefer morning classes or evening? Are you looking for 30-minute, high-intensity classes you can squeeze in on your lunch break? Or longer, slower-paced classes to wind down after work? There are so many different factors that can affect your choice in studio, and with so many options, you can get pretty specific.
What do you want from a studio that you just aren’t quite satisfied with at home? Think about your fitness goals. Maybe you get your cardio in the form of running outside, and you need some help with strength training. Maybe you invested in a fully decked out weight room in your garage when COVID-19 hit, but now you’re looking for a yoga studio to help with recovery.
With all those options out there, it can be hard to even know where to start. So, asking yourself questions like these is a good first step.
When it comes to picking a monthly membership, of course, budget is important. Sit down with your spreadsheet, or app, or whatever the hell you use to budget your monthly spending and see what you can afford to shuffle around. Wellness is an investment, not just a one-time purchase, and weaving it into your monthly budget will help you prioritize it.
Once you’ve determined how much you’re willing to spend per month, decide if you want any of that to be left over for the occasional drop-in class. You may want to spend most of it on a membership but keep a little extra for those days you’re feeling adventurous and want to try a new workout. Or maybe you’re a creature of habit, and you’re fine with just sticking to your favorite. That’s fine too! Just be sure to make those decisions early and factor them in while budgeting.
Lots of studios on Mindbody provide Intro Offers, or special deals for new clients only that allow you to try out some classes at a lower rate. For example, some studios (like VibeFlow yoga in San Diego) offer your first class free, and others give discounted rates for your first 2 weeks or a month. When I was looking for a yoga studio to join, I tried just about every Intro Offer in my area. It’s a great way to save money and try out local studios before committing. Plus, it got me out of my comfort zone! I got to try so many different types of yoga before deciding which I liked best. Every instructor, studio, and class is so unique and different—it’s fun to get a feel for all the different mini fitness communities within your own larger one.
For those that don’t have any new client deals, you can check to see if they have Last-Minute Offers. These are drop-in deals for one-time classes, that fluctuate in price depending on timing, number of spots left, etc. So basically, if there’s a class in your area that starts in an hour and still has several spots left, odds are, you’ll be able to join that class for a lower drop-in rate!
And if you’re not quite ready to head back into the studio—or if those in your area have not yet reopened—another great way to try before you buy is virtual classes. Many studios offer live stream and on demand workout classes on Mindbody, so you can get a feel for the classes and instructors from the comfort (and safety) of your home.
I know I told you to identify your needs in step one. Find out exactly what you’re looking for a studio to provide. But, when it comes to picking a membership, it’s important to be flexible (and I’m not just talking about your yoga class). While identifying your needs is a great first step to narrowing down your options, you may find that while trying out different studios, those needs totally change.
In my case, I thought I really wanted a membership to a hot yoga studio, but when I branched out and tried one that didn’t offer heated classes, I found a different kind of yoga environment I really enjoyed (and, of course, this made it really difficult to choose). On top of that, I was new to yoga and a little nervous about how I looked in class. I wanted a larger studio where I could hang in the back and try not to be noticed. But then, during my second or third week of class using an Intro Offer at a smaller studio, the man at the front desk greeted me by name, and my perspective totally changed. I went into class and laid out my mat in the front row, ready for the instructor to give me tips for improvement—and I’m better for it.
All of this to say, you never know what you’re going to find when it comes to trying new things. Have your list of wants and priorities, but don’t be afraid to tear it up and start over—and enjoy learning about yourself along the way.
So, if you’re ready to face your fear of commitment and settle down with your soulmate studio, now you have somewhere to start. Whether you’re trying to be more cost-effective, craving a community, or just need a good old-fashioned routine your life, a membership is a great way to consistently prioritize your wellness. Not only that, but you get the awesome benefit of joining a fitness community where you’ll see faces you recognize, meet some workout buddies, and be encouraged by instructors to keep improving in your practice. So where do I sign up?
Book classes on Mindbody to get started.