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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’ve ever taken a hot yoga class, you know it’s always going to be one thing—outrageously hot. Not the “let’s hang by the pool and get that sun-kissed glow” kind of hot either. I’m talking that “I can't believe I have this much sweat in my body” and “I may or may not pass out” kind of hot. It’s nothing to mess around with, and after a year or so of not being able to go, it’s easy to forget just how serious that heat can be.
To get the maximum enjoyment and benefits out of your heated yoga classes, you need to prepare yourself before and take care of yourself afterward. Luckily, I’ve been taking some classes (sweating enough for the both of us) and I’ve listed my five favorite must-dos to help you readjust to your heated classes and get back to the hot yoga summer that we all want.
Heated classes are difficult in nature. The normal difficulty of regular poses is mixed in with the added challenges of sweating and dealing with the humidity and the heat (at times, I’ve seen the thermostat climb to 108 degrees—yikes!). Depending on what type of yoga class you’re taking (sculpt, Bikram, power vinyasa), the difficulty level and temperature are going to vary. It’s also important to remember that each person in the room is going to practice in a way that’s unique to them. Hours slept, hydration levels, food intake, and different lifestyles are all contributing factors that make our practices different. What you practice on your mat is your own––trust your body and only do what feels right to you. And remember, it’s okay to take breaks!
The rise in temperature mixed in with the humidity that we all know and love creates the perfect recipe for sweating—like A LOT. You go into a heated class dry and come out feeling like you just took a dip in the pool. Before heated classes, I had no idea it was physically possible to sweat that much. If you’re going to a heated class, especially after a long break, it’s easy to forget just how much you might sweat. Is it possible to lose that much water if you haven’t consumed it first? Trust me, going into your heated class super hydrated is going to make a world of difference and help you feel good throughout your practice. And don’t forget to take some sips of H2O while you’re practicing!
Heated classes are challenging, but I can’t stop going. Nothing quite compares to overcoming the challenge— and experiencing the cleanse my body feels after I’m done. It’s the perfect blend of hard and rewarding, but I couldn’t do it if my body wasn’t properly nourished. On the days I know I have a heated class booked; I like to make sure I am eating right. I make sure to take my vitamins and fuel my body with fruits, vegetables, and my favorite superfood shake. I hold off on food about an hour before my practice, so I feel comfortable. After the class, I like to replenish with a big protein shake (boosted with collagen to aid with muscle recovery and skin elasticity). There is no one-way path for properly nourishing your body but making sure you’re fueled for the challenge of a heated class is essential for getting the most out of your practice and feeling good on and off your mat.
Increasing and maintaining your water intake on the days you take a heated class is important, but sometimes you need something a little extra. If you’re sweating that much, you’re basically an athlete (at least in my book) and if you’re performing like a rockstar yogi, you need to hydrate like one as well. That means replenishing those lost electrolytes. Reward yourself and your body for the hard work and treat yourself to your favorite drink. I switch off between electrolyte-boosting drinks and coconut water depending on what I’m in the mood for that day. Adding these to my post-practice self-care routine has helped me feel more hydrated after and ready to take on the world again after especially sweaty classes.
Usually, a yoga mat is all you need for your practice––but heated classes are a different ballgame. I’ve gone with just a mat, and I’ve slipped all over the place. Let me tell you, there’s nothing worse than having sweat drip all over the place while you’re trying to hold a pose that makes you grip your mat for dear life (never again). Make sure you bring a towel to place over your mat, this will help with support and grip. Bringing a smaller towel is also a good idea. You can use the smaller towel to dry yourself off during water breaks or whenever you’re feeling just a bit too sweaty. This is a small step that makes a world of difference during those super-hot classes.
So, there you have it. Five of my favorite tips (more like lifesavers) that have helped me readjust to those heated classes I love so much. Getting back into it is a challenge for us all, so know you’re not alone. No matter where you’re at in your practice, remember to be kind and gentle to yourself––celebrating your health and your body’s ability to do what you love. We’re all just getting back out there, together.
Ready to jump back into your hot yoga routine? Browse Mindbody to find the perfect class for you.
While you’re at it, check out some Intro Offers near you that can help you get back to your cadence of hot yoga classes.