CONVERSATIONS AT THE SANCTUARY: What Is A Crystal Sound Bath?
Gwyneth Paltrow refers to sound baths as “lotion for the nervous system”, while Kendall Jenner turns to this healing form of sound therapy to battle anxiety. Join Dawn Chan, Founder of The Yoga School, as she takes us deep into this uplifting and transformative practice
Dawn’s introduction to the world of sound baths happened during a reiki session with Elaine Yang, an Usui Reiki teacher and sound healer.
“I remember that session very vividly,” Dawn recounts. “I’d drifted off during Reiki, and the sound vibrations from the crystal singing bowls took me even deeper. During the sound bath, I visualised a pink crystal bowl,” she shares. “When I woke up, I told Elaine that I felt drawn to get one for myself. She showed me the Crystal Tones website and advised me to read up on the bowls before choosing one.
“I felt compelled to close my eyes and so that’s what I did,” Dawn continues. “I put my finger on the phone, scrolled with my eyes still shut, and let intuition guide me. When my finger came to rest, I opened my eyes to look at what I had ‘chosen’ – it was a beautiful, pink rhodochrosite bowl.”
Dawn continued to try sound healing, and her experiences with crystal singing bowls eventually led her to incorporate sound baths into The Yoga School’s classes. For the uninitiated, sound healing might seem like a new age trend, but this therapeutic practice has actually been used throughout history to enhance wellness. Dawn tells us about the healing power behind their sound.
QN: TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH CRYSTALS – WE SEE QUITE A FEW OF THEM PLACED AROUND THE YOGA SCHOOL…
DAWN: Well after I got my first crystal singing bowl, I wanted more of them because I love crystals and was already collecting crystals before that. There’s a whole array of crystals with so many different properties. Each crystal also carries its own energy, so for instance, you can have two crystals that are both rose quartz, but they feel completely different.
With crystal singing bowls, not only do you have crystals (sometimes, there’s a blend of crystals in one bowl) but you also have the notes. The high notes are more elevating, while the lower notes help you to feel more grounded.
I’m like Alice in the Wonderland of crystal singing bowls – I feel like I’ve gone down the rabbit hole. My first bowl was rhodochrosite, and then I discovered the crystal blends, and there’re so many variations! There’s the St Germain Violet Flame, the St Germain Rose Palladium and so on. I’ve also discovered Super Grade Bowls which are heavier with a much denser quartz quality. These bowls have an entirely different energy that’s incredibly intense and powerful, so much so that if there’s one sitting in the room, you’ll feel its energy and presence.
I always joke that I live in a crystal cave because I have lots of crystals at home.
My dog, Bei, likes sleeping next to my shelve of crystals and when he barks, something amazing happens – the bowls tone along and the sound waves reverberate in an echo throughout the room.
QN: WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO USE CRYSTAL SINGING BOWLS OVER TRADITIONAL TIBETAN SINGING BOWLS?
DAWN: I’ve tried Tibetan bowls – they are very powerful and very grounding. However, we have very little metal in our bodies and so their sound vibrations don’t penetrate our bodies in quite the same way that pure quartz does.
Crystal singing bowls are more uplifting. Our bodies resonate more closely with their sound waves because we are about 70 percent water and our bones contain numerous crystalline structures. Both types of singing bowls are wonderful but The Yoga School is a “sanctuary in the sky”, so crystal bowls suit this environment better. Personally, I also find that crystal singing bowls are more aligned with my energy.
QN: HOW DO SOUND BATHS SUPPORT YOGA OR MEDITATION?
DAWN: My experience with the deep, healing effects of sound therapy led me to introduce crystal singing bowls into our classes at The Yoga School. The inaugural session was a charity class we did in aid of Save Our Street Dogs, back in 2017. Clinical psychotherapist and Dharma yoga teacher, Sherri Melwani, led the class through a series of animal yoga poses (the ones with animal names).
So when we go into the pigeon pose, we try to embody the pigeon, or the dog, the cat, or the cow, and in doing so, we develop more consciousness for the respective animals. And when the crystal singing bowls are incorporated into the class, the sound meditation helps to break down barriers in the practice because often times, we have a lot of internal mental chatter going on. I experience that a lot in yoga – I’m always hearing myself in my head going, “This is hard! Oh no I’m wobbling!”
But the yoga practice happens when the mental chatter stops. Sometimes, in a class, the teacher may play popular music like pop songs, and we’ll have mental associations like, “I heard this song at the club with my friends that night!”, and so it takes you out of the present moment.
But with the singing bowls, the music is spontaneous as it’s something that’s being played for you. It’s very specific, and since you’ve not heard it before, the music from the singing bowls keeps your energy and attention in the present moment. Sound gives you something to focus on, making it easier to clear the mind. And that’s something that I really like about using the crystal singing bowls.
QN: DO PEOPLE FALL ASLEEP DURING A SOUND BATH?
DAWN: The upcoming UNWIND workshop on 18 October is a special two-hour session designed with the sole purpose of helping you rest and restore. We’ll be doing restorative yoga with the aid of yoga props – the stretches and poses are meant to be zero effort so every part of your body is supported, and you’re giving yourself permission to rest. “Rest” is something that’s so rare actually, because for many of us, even when we’re lying down in bed at night, we’re often going through tomorrow’s to-do list in our heads. I hold space in the workshop for practitioners to enter very deep rest for an hour or two, and use the singing bowls as a tool to support and cultivate deep relaxation.
QN: IT SOUNDS WONDERFULLY SOOTHING TO BE BATHED IN SOUND WAVES AS YOU REST…
DAWN: Sound baths are immersive and therapeutic, intentionally using sound to invite restorative effects. It can be a gently meditative yet powerful experience for the mind and body, especially when practised with Yoga Nidra, which is guided yogic sleep.
We’ll start with asana practice to prepare our bodies for sitting or lying still later on, during Yoga Nidra. When our bodies are all stretched out and in balance, we won’t have aches and pains from compensating for the imbalance. If you’re strong, you’ll be able to sit and be still. If you’ve worked your body and mind, they’ll be tired after an hour of physical work, so then you’ll be able to be quiet and go into meditation.
We’ll begin with shorter poses at the beginning, and ease into longer holds as we relax into the poses. And as we go deeper and deeper, you’ll be so relaxed when you do Yoga Nidra that you might not even want to move. The sound waves from the crystal singing bowls will support you and keep you in that blissful state by drowning out external sounds and distractions.
With the crystal singing bowls in the same room, we’ll also feel their vibrations throughout every pore as they travel through our cells, vibrating and accelerating the body’s detox process – that’s when the “shift” happens. Sometimes you hear people talk about having a brain wave or an epiphany during a sound bath, this happens because the detox process helps you to shake off old patterns, bringing about a “shift in consciousness”.
ABOUT DAWN CHAN
A yoga student since 2000, Dawn founded The Yoga School in 2016 as an offering to the yoga community in Singapore. Guided by a global community of kind, knowledgeable and responsible teachers, Dawn hopes to share the immense benefits of yoga she has experienced herself. Her classes offer a gentle and invigorating practice, while building awareness of our mind-body-breath alignment.
Dawn took her first yoga class during her first year at university, and fell in love with the fact that, after years of compulsory Physical Education classes at school, she could finally exercise out of the sun. After graduating in 2002, she continued to seek out yoga classes in the different cities where she lived: from a grotty gym in Paris to a Mysore-style practice in Mountain View, California. Upon returning to Singapore in 2004, she volunteered as yoga captain for a local bank, organising weekly yoga classes for her colleagues.
In 2016, Dawn completed her 500-hour yoga teacher training with Noah Mazé. She covered 10 modules of teacher training in Los Angeles, Jakarta, Bali and Singapore. Her teachers Noah Mazé and Anthony Heron gave her the knowledge and courage to start teaching yoga and open The Yoga School. Dawn’s first teacher training was led by Andrey Lappa and Copper Crow in 2013. This 200-hour Universal Yoga training deepened her understanding of yoga beyond asana practice, and inspired her to continue studying yoga.
As The Yoga School celebrates its third anniversary, Dawn will be conducting a restorative two-hour workshop accompanied by an uplifting sound bath from her array of crystal alchemy singing bowls. Reserve your mat here and feel your tension melt away to a gentle state of lightness.