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Finding what kind of self-care works best for you is essential to wellness, whether it’s curling up with a book on a Sunday morning, going for a long run, or sinking into a bubble bath with a candle and some relaxing music. If the latter sounds great — or if you’re just looking for some relaxing music to kick back with after a hectic work week — having the right soundtrack can make or break a dedicated chillout session. There are plenty of options out there, from European go-to's like Enya to Native American and New Age albums whose reveries are influenced by nature and traditional instruments. Read on for the best spa CDs on the market — and while you're at it, we highly suggest buying an extra for the yoga teachers, massage therapists, and estheticians in your life.
Our Top Picks
Le Spa Sonique
This album by Jens Gad is just the thing to put on at the end of a long day—or when you just need something to zone out to during meditation or massage. Gad is a German musician known mostly for his role in the Enigma musical project, for which he was co-producer and guest guitarist, and he also has another world-influenced project that highlights female vocalists singing in different languages. As experimental as those projects might be, the result of his Le Spa Sonique album is guaranteed relaxation. We love how the album's 11 tracks flow one into another (don’t put this album on shuffle) for a smooth, serene listening experience that oscillates between slower songs and more upbeat tunes.
With 12 songs averaging around four minutes each, Spa is a classic chill-out album—and although it came out back in 2004, it definitely stands the test of time. The piano performance by Roger Saint-Denis is exquisite, with other classical instruments like cello and flute joining the compositions from time to time. Reiki and massage practitioners say they love using it with the people they treat, while others like to put it on while doing meditation exercises or as background music during dinner.
If your musical tastes lean more toward New Age sounds inspired by the landscapes of New Mexico and Arizona, Desert Spa is a great choice. You’ll hear Andean flutes, birdsong, and gentle rain on this album. Listeners say it takes them through dreamscapes of meadows and oceans and it helps them not only relax but fall asleep as well. Others love that the music isn’t synthesizer-based but created by actual instruments. It’s also a favorite among massage practitioners, several of whom mention that their clients actually request the CD during their sessions. The album might seem short with only 9 tracks, but four of them clock in at 11 minutes or longer—a nice stretch of time for zoning out and getting into a more meditative state.
Dean Evenson, known as a pioneer in the field of sound healing, has composed the tracks on this album specifically for practitioners in the healing arts—and has been doing so for nearly 30 years. It’s the third CD in the Healing Spa series, and it’s one of the best. We love the serene, harmonious sounds of the flute, harp, and keyboards, which intertwine in complex and serene tracks for more than an hour of chilled-out music. A few listeners have mentioned that they like the tracks because they don’t have a beat to them, which is nice for practices like tai chi and yoga.
With 14 desert- and nature-inspired tracks on this spiritual album, David R. Maracle has masterminded an instant stress reliever that’s been soothing listeners for years now. Filled with the peaceful tones of Native American-inspired flutes, it’s a must for when you need to unwind after a long day. Listeners love it for the bathtub, for massages, for giving birth, for nursing—and one listener writes that it even helped her keep calm through an MRI procedure when she was struggling with claustrophobia. Thanks to the low-key melodies and intricate harmonies, listeners also love it for helping them clear their mind for meditation and sleep. Tracks run on the long side, between four and six minutes, so you have time to melt into the song and sink into the flow.
Dan Gibson’s Solitudes is at it again, this time with a relaxed European spa album. It’s great for when you want to put some distance between you and the world. We love that Gibson pulls out a full suite of instruments for this album, from xylophone, piano, synth, and flute, to embellishments that add a bit of gleaming serenity to the tracks. Plus, when you buy the audio CD from Amazon, you’ll also get a free MP3 version of the album with you, so you have these chilled-out tunes wherever you are, whether you’re caught in a stressful commute or want some zen tunes after yoga.
Native American Flutes & Sounds Of Nature
With 22 tracks that take inspiration from nature, like “Thunder on a Warm Summer Evening” and “Coolness—The Sound of the Wind as It Leaves the Sky,” this album draws on the peaceful sounds of nature. It channels the sounds of the earth through Native American flutes, making for a calming soundtrack at the end of a busy day. Listeners love the CD for a myriad of purposes, from massage and spa background to yoga, meditation, and sleep. It’s about an hour and 20 minutes long, so it’s a great length if you’re looking to lie down after a busy day at work—or sink into a tub full of bubbles.
An Open Sky
For those really stressful days when a bath alone isn’t enough, An Open Sky - Soothing Guitar and Cello Music For Relaxation, Meditation and Well-Being, is a great choice to help shrug off stress. Ryan Judd, the genius behind this album, isn’t just an incredibly talented musician — he has the qualifications to prove it. He’s a Billboard Top 10 recording artist and he has a board certification in music therapy, with a master’s degree in psychology, so he’s worked out the perfect strategy behind what will relax you. “You'll feel peace and calm wash over you as tension and stress drain away,” the label promises—and, should you somehow listen to this and still feel stressed, there’s a six-month guarantee, so if you don’t love it, you can just send it back. Plus, there’s a great social component to this: a percentage of the profits are donated to Lucy’s Love Bus, which provides free music therapy to pediatric cancer patients.