Unlike Los Angeles, where esoteric healing modalities are a normal part of the culture, New York’s marvelous world of woo-woo wellness is a little more hidden. You wouldn’t guess, for example, that behind an inconspicuous door in Nolita, there’s a rare, magical looking contraption known as a crystal healing bed, that pairs color and crystal therapies to induce deep relaxation.
The bed belongs to Dr Julie Von, a lauded NYC acupuncturist who specializes in fertility. Like many of the more holistically minded practitioners I’ve met, she has a caring disposition that sets a soothing tone right out the gate, before the treatment itself has even begun.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Once I’m reclined on the table a machine is situated directly above me, with seven Vogel cut quartz crystals, each projecting a differently colored light onto my body. The hues, and the anatomical point at which the beam lands, correspond with the chakras—known as the body’s energy centers—and are said to help clear and balance them.
Dr Julie sets the beams to flicker at a medium speed. The fastest setting, she explains, is a bit trippy, which some of her patients actually prefer, but as this is my first time we aim for a more relaxing experience. She also gives me an eye mask, applies a few dabs of essential oils (including one at my third eye center—the space between, and just above, the eyebrows) and a few strategically inserted acupuncture needles to help reduce stress—a widespread issue for New Yorkers, of course.
Then she leaves me alone for a while to meditate and chill. It’s extremely sensory—the flashing lights, the heady oils, the occasional tingle from a needle—and for a while I feel overwhelmed, but that fades soon enough and I start to slip in and out of sleep.
When the therapy has concluded I feel floaty and, well, kind of high. Dr Julie gently sees me to the front door, advising me to drink plenty of water. I don’t fully understand what just happened, but something certainly did.
Esme Benjamin: I’ve never seen a crystal light bed before. Who invented it and why did you decide it would be a good addition to your practice?
Dr Julie Von: The crystal bed was created by John of God, a spiritual healer living in Brazil. I was happy to add it to my practice as another tool to help people detach from the analytic mind and find deeper relaxation. By balancing the body energetically we can heal it physically.
EB: What are the chakras and how do these lights interact with them?
JV: Chakras is a Sanskrit word that defines different sections of spiritual power, which are aligned along the spine. I refer to them as mini brains—each one corresponds to a particular part of your anatomy and the emotions associated with it. If they become blocked and energy can’t flow freely between them, that’s when illnesses can occur.
The lights are designed to cultivate and open the energy of each corresponding chakra.
EB: What is the purpose of the crystals? How do they participate in the healing?
JV: Each crystal is cut according to the Marcel Vogel method, to send off a specific vibrational frequency. The colored lights, which match each chakra, are then projected through the crystals—emerging in a concentrated beam that helps balance your energy.
EB: What kinds of ailments is the treatment effective for?
JV: Mostly we use the lamp as a supportive and energy increasing addition to our acupuncture sessions. I describe the lamp as being deeply nourishing—you will leave feeling rested and relaxed.
EB: What sensations can people expect to feel during and afterwards?
JV: Most people feel energized, balanced, and experience a sense of clarity. It is often compared to the effect of mediation.
EB: You paired my session with essential oils. How do these therapies complement each other?
JV: The power of essential oil is subtle but powerful. Custom blends can help to open the senses and cultivate an internal sense of relaxation.
Crystal bed therapy session provided by Dr Julie Von
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.