Have a question about sound baths? Check out the most frequently asked questions below and view the answers by expanding boxes.
What is a sound bath?
A sound bath is a sound experience in which different instruments are used to create sounds and vibrations that promote a calm mind and a relaxed body to facilitate meditation. The practitioner will guide you into a sitting or lying down position and then play instruments, which can include bowls, chimes, drums or rain sticks. The experience often feels like being bathed with sound.
Sound baths help facilitate shifts in brain waves. In our day-to-day functioning, we experience beta brainwaves. This is our waking state where we are alert, we have focus and concentration, we experience logical thought and we are reactive. Sound baths can help us move into alpha brainwaves, which make us relaxed, creative and imaginative. This is where we sink into meditation and can experience peace and calm. Sound baths can also shift us into theta brainwaves, which are dreamlike, daydream states where memories and emotions are stored.
Depending on the intensity and duration of the sound experience, you may stay in a more meditative calm state, or you may enter into a more dreamlike state in longer and more intense sound baths.
Sound baths also stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system through the vagus nerve. This promotes slowing the heart rate, lowering the blood pressure and creating overall calm and relaxation within the body. (Source: Jay Emmanuel Morales, The Healing Forces of Harmonic Sounds and Vibrations)
Are sound baths loud?
This depends on the instrument and level they are played by the practitioner. Campus Recreation classes will feature gentle sound baths; however, the vibrations can feel intense, even when bowls are played softly. Some people may feel uncomfortable with the sensation of sound vibrations. Often deep breathing and surrendering to the experience helps the body and mind adjust to the shift into a more relaxed state. Sound baths should never be painful. If at any point the sound is too loud, please raise your hand to alert the practitioner right away. You may also leave the room at any time.
Are sound baths emotional?
When we enter into these relaxed states and our parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated, it sends the signal to our brain that we are safe. Here we may experience a sense of wellbeing and even delight. Yet for some, emotions or memories reemerge. Deep breathing and allowing the feelings to move can restore a feeling of calm. It is also normal in this space to cry or process your emotions another way. You may always leave the room at any time. Just note, if you step out, please wait until the sound bath is over to reenter the room. The practitioner is here you to support you. If for some reason it feels too much or you feel panic, please reach out to the practitioner for assistance. If you are worried about experiencing a resurfacing of emotions or experiences, sound baths may not be a good fit at this time.
How will I feel after?
Most people feel relaxed and at peace and may feel contemplative or sleepy. Some people may feel emotional and need someone to talk to or need to journal to process and integrate.
What should I wear?
Whatever you wear to yoga will be perfect. You may want an added layer such as a sweatshirt. Blankets and bolsters are available in the studio.
Do I have to lie down?
Most people find it easiest to listen while lying down; however, your comfort is most important. We can support you in finding a comfortable position lying down or sitting with bolsters or even sitting up against the wall.
Who should not attend a sound bath?
- First trimester of pregnancy (please consult your doctor after the first trimester if sound baths would be right for you)
- Seizures or epilepsy (monaural beats and binaural beats may be produced)
- Parkinson’s disease
- DBS device
- Metal implants
- Any neurological diseases, please consult doctor
- Yoga and sound can be very beneficial to some people with PTSD, anxiety or depression, but should be accompanied by outside support. Talk with your doctor and/or therapist before attending
- Individuals with nerve damage should consult a doctor before attending
(Source: Erica Hersh, “Dangers of Singing Bowls: Myths and Potential Side Effects.”)
History of sound baths
Sound has been used in healing practices for thousands of years. It can be traced back to ancient Greece, Egypt and, most well-known, Tibet. Traditional Tibetan singing bowls and gongs are made out of metals. These bowls have been traced back to Mesopotamia, and are thought to be the first artisan craft humans made. The crystal singing bowls of today which will be used in the sound baths are directly related to the singing bowls created in Tibet. Understanding the history is important so we can honor the path they took to be in our lives today.
“During the Chinese invasion of Tibet in the middle of the 19th century, the indigenous people, known as the lamas and monks, were forced to flee, taking all of their valued possessions with them, including their singing bowls. In order to survive the crisis, the lamas and monks were forced to sell their singing bowls and other items of significant value. This circumstance led to singing bowls spreading around the world, as well as causing the esoteric knowledge about them to disappear. Today, singing bowls’ mystical sounds can now be heard in many different places such as healing centers, yoga studios, classrooms, temples, and much more. But one thing remains – singing bowls are still as powerful of a spiritual, medicinal and musical tool as they were thousands of years ago.” (Source: shantibowl.com)
Sound Bath Classes on the Schedule:
Sound baths will only be used in classes that feature the words “sound bath” in the title.