Try virtual-reality relaxation in LA
Real world getting you down? Virtual reality is pegged to be one of the biggest wellness trends in the coming year. Esqapes is leading the field. It provides an “unparalleled immersive relaxation experience”, which takes place in the company’s futuristic headquarters. Choose between tranquil koi ponds, Mediterranean vistas, and a leisurely trip to the beach without leaving the city, and combine the virtual environment with a soothing massage for a multisensory escape from the day-to-day.
Connect with the forest in Okutama
Tokyo in 2020 might be all about the Olympics, but, beyond the city, a quieter experience beckons. Forest bathing – shinrin-yoku in Japanese – is the practice of taking in the sights, sounds and smells of nature to relax your mind and body; new studies claim it’s a surprisingly effective way to reduce blood pressure, improve memory and concentration, and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The world’s first forest-therapy base resides just outside Tokyo, in Okutama, where you can enjoy forest yoga, therapy walks, soba-noodle-making workshops and other wholesome pursuits.
Test-drive something new in London
Fancy revamping your exercise routine or diet but not sure where to begin? Kick start some change at London’s Balance Festival, held in Shoreditch’s Old Truman Brewery between 17 and 19 April. An all-out wellness extravaganza, it’s a great opportunity to sample classes from the city’s best fitness boutiques (Hotpod Yoga and Barry’s Bootcamp among them) without the hefty membership fees. While you’re at it, pick up expert advice from leading nutritionists and international chefs.
Smell the roses in Seoul
South Korea is home to many flower festivals; however, the absolute must-see is the Grand Park Rose Garden Festival. It happens every year in Gwacheon, on the outskirts of Seoul, from May to June, when the roses are in full bloom. It’s a ridiculously romantic, not to mention relaxing, way to spend a day outside the city. There are even sky lifts that give you a bird’s-eye view of the variegated fields of flowers.
Sound-bathe before clubbing in Amsterdam
A club is not the obvious venue for reflection. Yet, at Amsterdam’s Gardens of Babylon, mass meditation proves the perfect precursor to a night out. Stacey Griffin, who runs Shift Meditation, holds regular workshops for groups of 400 to 700 people, who come together for a mindful moment before dancing the night away. If clubbing doesn’t align your chakras, however, why not try one of her ‘sound baths’ at the Zoku hotel instead? Soothe your senses with the sounds and vibrations of an alternative orchestra of Tibetan singing bowls, gongs and tuning forks, said to increase sleep quality and boost energy.
This story appears in Issue 5 of Culture Trip magazine: The Celebration Issue.