When my local yoga centre sent me an invitation to a Sound Bath (often also called a Gong Bath) I was curious, so I signed up. Mostly because the invite said that after a few very gentle yoga asanas, most of the session would consist of lying on the floor under a blanket, listening to sounds. It seemed like the perfect way to spend an hour on a Saturday morning and I have to say, I was not disappointed.
What is a sound bath?
This is not some new-fangled idea; it’s an ancient wellness practice that dates back over 2,000 years. The yoga centre I attend was decked out with the most amazing looking gongs, Tibetan singing bowls, a shaman’s drum and similar instruments, some of which I didn’t quite catch the name. However, the gongs and singing bowls are the main feature of a ‘sound bath’. It is called a bath, because you are immersed in sound and you can feel the sound waves moving through your body. You don’t just hear the gongs and other instruments; you really feel them as well. Personally, it felt to me as though I was floating in the sound of the universe.
At my yoga centre, the Gong Master, a lovely Swedish woman, took us through a few Sun Salutations, then a relaxing meditation in preparation for the gongs. She reminded us several times not to fall asleep, and somewhat surprisingly, I don’t think anyone did. I was certainly too engrossed by the sounds she was creating to even think of drifting off. When it finished, I felt both relaxed and energised and I instinctively knew that it had produced some deeper beneficial effect.
Potential effects of a sound bath
You may be wondering what effect it is supposed to have? Primarily, sounds have been used for thousands of years to cleanse and detoxify the body. Sound also works on the chakra system, which is the energetic system at the heart of yoga. For example, to feel more grounded, you use a sound that resonates with the base chakra and that is the C note. Whereas opening the heart chakra centres around the F note. It is also recommended that you drink plenty of water before attending a sound bath. The reason for this, according to the experts, is that the more hydrated your body is, the more profound the effect of sound frequencies. This is because sound waves carry better on water, and that is science.
As I said earlier, I found that it was a wonderful experience and I felt more positive and healthier after. In fact, I enjoyed the experience so much that I looked up some gong/sound bath videos on YouTube, which is a useful way of testing the water, so to speak. My favourite one is by Gong Master, Sheila Whittaker given at the College of Sound Healing in Kent. Alongside Don Conreaux, (also on YouTube) who teaches at Hawkwood College in Gloucester, they are both world leaders in this technique. Suffice to say, I have returned for more sound baths and noticed different positive effects each time. It certainly beats a bubble bath hands down for me – it might do the same for you.