By Kelley Granger
“Relax Your Mind”, “Returning to Now” and “Releasing the Past”.
More than just titles of album tracks, these phrases are sound advice for your relaxation time. Studies continue to show that music can produce physiological changes in heart rate and respiration, and most people report that music can stir feelings and emotions too. No wonder music is such an essential tool of the spa industry – and it may be more avant-garde than you think. Forget shopping for compilations of bellowing whales or overly synthesized overtures for your at-home chilling – follow the lead of some of the top spas and discover the New New Age, a blurring of genres like world, jazz, and electronic chill-out with classical instruments and traditional vocal sounds.
Fred DeVito, one of the founders of Exhale Spa and co-designer of their Core Fusion classes, says that music plays an integral make-or-break role in a guest’s experience. The Core Fusion class uses a mixture of music tempos to stimulate participants during each of the yoga, pilates, orthopedic stretch and core conditioning segments. “We use a lot of variety to keep the students intrigued,” DeVito says. “During the stretch/meditation portions of the class we like to use music that has a subtle energy.” He plays Yoga One, a compilation that includes gently beat-driven songs like “Red Dust” by Zero 7 and “Dunia” by Bliss, which fuse temperate rhythms with airy electronic touches. DeVito also incorporates jazzier choices, like “Relax Your Mind,” by Presto, featured on the album Mushroom Jazz Volume 3, a collection of songs with a funky, urban vibe.
Surprised to find spa music sourced from a DJ? Don’t be – DeVito says the beats serve a function without being “frenetic or invasive,” while promoting deep breathing and focused energy. For more serene moments, like in the final savasana, DeVito says music should be “meditative and subliminal yet inspiring and emotionally supportive.”
So will you be soaking in an essential oil mix in your bathtub at home? Getting a massage from a partner? Performing stretches, meditation, or yoga? Consider your activities, then contemplate some of Beauty News NYC’s picks for your at-home spa experience.
Blue Stone – Worlds Apart
Blue Stone’s sophomore release, World’s Apart, will captivate you. If Enya had a little edge, this might be what she’d sound like – whether it’s the jubilant, joy-of-discovery feel of “Dreamcatcher” or the beautifully haunting title track, Worlds Apart (Searching for You),” which invites you to “feel your essence overflowing” with sweeping layers of otherworldly vocals. Worlds Apart is an uplifting and gorgeous feat that blends the electronic and new age genres flawlessly.
Amethystium – Emblem
Billboard Magazine called Amethystium’s Emblem “an album that seems to elevate from the speakers.” It will elevate your spirits as well, right from the first track, Ethereal,” which evokes a sense of wonder and reflection in it’s poignant, melodious layers and subtle chanting. A careful selection of songs from three previous albums weave together to form an entrancing and enveloping aural soundscape that will leave you feeling like you’ve just witnessed something beautiful.
Beauty – Music That Touches the Heart
Featuring both Blue Stone and Amethystium, this compilation is composed of hand-picked selections that are perfect for relaxing and letting your mind drift. Other highlights include Bella Sonus’s Warm Embrace,” a gentle, ambient piano piece, and the soft, echoing acoustic feel of Sleepthief’s “You Did a Good Thing.”
If you’re a spa junkie you may have heard of Namaste, an Asian and Indian inspired compilation. Selections like Karunesh’s “Returning to Now” and “Calling Wisdom,” are played at the Mandarin Oriental Spa, and calm listeners through chimes, foreign chants, and exotic instruments. The album also features Rasa’s striking vocals, and many songs are extended in length, allowing you to remain calm and undisturbed during transitions. The CD also includes a 15 minute meditation by Terence Yallop on a separate disc.
Letting the World Go By – Sacred Spa Music Series
A more traditional approach to relaxation music, this compilation includes delicate guitar melodies like Govi’s “Embrace,” sweet piano tunes like Danny Wright’s Together Forever,” and tranquil harp songs like Hilary Stagg’s “Thinking of You.” There’s a reason why this kind of music is a mainstay in spas – soft instrumentals have a way of relaxing you like nothing else. We guess that’s why this CD is played in its entirety at Canyon Ranch, and portions at Banyan Tree’s luxurious destination spas.