In the last year, a number of airy, modern meditation spaces and yoga studios have opened in Toronto and across Canada. Beyond guided meditation, many of these studios are distinguishing themselves by offering sessions and workshops centered around lesser-known wellness activities and features — for example, sound baths, frequency therapies, infrared saunas and salt caves.
But what exactly is a sound bath and why would you want to try one? Generally speaking, it’s a group or private wellness practice that incorporates the use of music for healing and relaxation purposes, and sessions can include meditation or yoga components. Unlike forest bathing, which occurs outdoors in natural settings, sound baths offer an (usually) indoors, urban meditation experience that engages multiple senses in a compelling way.
“We’ve really noticed such deep relaxation when people emerge from the sound bath; it’s an easy way to slip into meditation,” says Stephanie Kersta, Co-Founder of Hoame in Toronto. “There are a lot of health benefits to sound baths; sound therapy has been really shown to be really beneficial for a number of things … it can reduce stress, it does play a role in reducing anxiety.”
The live music performances often include singing bowls, gongs, and small, hand-held musical instruments. At Hoame, sound baths take place in a salt cave and the instructor uses crystal bowls, their singing voice and chimes, while classes at Zenden in Vancouver can incorporate Sound Off headphones, LED lights, and Himalayan bowls and gongs.
Beyond any potential health benefits, the calming, repetitive notes and vibrations of a sound bath can help improve and enrich your meditation experience. “The vibrations, you don’t just hear them, you feel them in your body — it really is a mind-body experience,” says Kersta, noting that clients are often surprised at how quickly an hour will pass while they are in a deep meditative state. “People really work through some of their stress or anxiety, but also emerge feeling clear and a little bit more focused.”
Here are five studios where you can sign up for a sound bath.
Zenden — Vancouver
Zenden, which bills itself as “Canada’s first drop-in sound bath + reiki healing studio,” offers daily classes focused on topics such as sound healing and crystals. There are also specialty evening sessions involving Sound Off headphones and visual effects.
Yoga Santosha — Calgary
Yoga Santosha has two locations in Calgary; the Mission location currently offers a drop-in yoga and sound bath combination class two times a week. The class combines easy, restorative yoga poses with a guided sound meditation using quartz crystal singing bowls.
Hoame — Toronto
At this airy, modern meditation studio in downtown Toronto, sound bathing classes are held a few times a month inside Hoame’s pink Himalayan rock salt cave. Instructor Alexandria Santaguida incorporates multiple crystal bowls, chimes and her singing voice during the popular 1-hour sessions. Starting this summer, sound bath classes will also be held in Hoame’s light studio.
Kikospace — Toronto
Located in Roncesvalles, Kikospace offers both indoor and outdoor sound bath sessions. A few classes include movements while others simply focus on sound — instructor Kiko uses chimes, mallet percussion instruments, Himalayan and alchemy crystal singing bowls, gongs, tuning forks, shruti box and her voice.
Yoga Sangha — Montreal
This beautiful yoga centre in Old Montreal offers occasional sound bath workshops held by a variety of experienced instructors; a recent Cristal Momentum event featured 50 bowls and quartz instruments.