10 Weird and Wonderful Wellness Experiences To Try in NYC

New Yorkers ride on the Be Time meditation bus
New Yorkers ride on the Be Time meditation bus | © Be Time
Photo of Esme Benjamin
Wellness Editor31 January 2019

If you’ve already dipped your toe into the wellness world – a yoga class here, a little mindfulness there – these New York experiences will take your self-care to the next level. And give you a story or two to tell when you get home.

Mama Medicine’s Medicine Reading Ceremony

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Medicine reading ceremony at Mama Medicine, New York, USA
Medicine Reading Ceremony at Mama Medicine, New York | © Mama Medicine

Deborah Hanekamp, AKA Mama Medicine, is a self-described seeress, meaning “one who sees auras” and other entities of the non-physical realm. Her Medicine Reading Ceremony – a group experience that braids all Hanekamp’s gifts (she’s a trained yoga teacher, reiki practitioner and shaman, among other things) – has cultivated a reputation as a powerful, transformational healing experience. Recline on a heated, amethyst-filled mat surrounded by plump pillows while Hanekamp uses singing bowls, sage sticks, soft chants and healing hands to shift your energy and leave you feeling floaty.

Chroma-Yoga in a salt room

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Culture Trip Wellness Editor at Modrn Sanctuary, New York, USA
Culture Trip Wellness Editor Esme Benjamin enjoys the salt room at Modrn Sanctuary | © Culture Trip / Esme Benjamin
At Modrn Sanctuary, a holistic space in NoMad, wellness has pretty much peaked. The facility’s salt room – a small space filled with Himalayan pink salt, said to have numerous healing qualities of its own – plays host to various classes, including vinyasa yoga with chromotherapy lighting. This is a multi-pronged approach to wellbeing intended to leave you feeling better physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Vibroacoustic sound therapy

Health Spa
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The modality known as vibroacoustic sound therapy has some very promising scientific studies supporting its validity. When programmed to a specific frequency that’s designed to tackle a particular ailment, it helps restore the healthy vibration of the individual’s cells, improving their symptoms. Even if you don’t have a specific condition that needs addressing – such as fibromyalgia, joint inflammation or arthritis – lying on a vibrating waterbed while listening to music is one of the most relaxing ways to pass an hour in NYC.

Nap at The Dreamery

Health Spa
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The Dreamery, New York, USA
Self-parking is available at The Dreamery | © The Dreamery

In a city with such a go-go-go! ethos, slowing down can feel luxurious. In SoHo, one of New York’s busiest shopping districts, Casper has created a nap lounge concept dubbed The Dreamery. Stop by for 45 minutes in a private sleep nook, complete with skincare, toothbrush and paste, eye mask, ear plugs and freshly laundered, constellation-print PJs on loan. After your session grab a free coffee and snack before emerging refreshed.

Face Gym

Beauty Salon
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At Face Gym, the rest of you relaxes while your face gets a workout | © Yvonne Tnt

Unlike a traditional facial, which tends to involve painful extractions and innumerable products, the Face Gym addresses what’s beneath the skin. It comprises facial massage, flicking and lymphatic drainage – stages designed to resemble the arc of a well-rounded fitness class. At the end you’ll emerge looking de-puffed, relaxed and glowy.

Crystal bed therapy

Health Spa
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Chakra Light Therapy, New York, USA
Chakra light therapy | © Esme Benjamin / Culture Trip

This treatment, which projects colored light onto the body through quartz crystals, is on the more woo-woo end of the wellness spectrum. Each crystal is positioned right above the chakras (known in ancient Indian healing traditions as the energy centers of the body), and the projected lights are thought to balance and clear each one. At her practice in SoHo, Dr Julie Von pairs crystal bed therapy with acupuncture and aromatherapy to give clients a deeply relaxing experience.

Japanese head spa

Beauty Salon
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The Japanese head spa at Tomoko Shima is like a facial for your scalp. The therapist uses shampoos and cooling gel conditioners to soothe your head, then massages your neck and shoulders to release tension throughout the whole upper body. The treatment ends with a very gentle blow-dry so your locks look great and your scalp feels brand new.

Be Time meditation bus

When the city is getting a bit overwhelming and you need a moment to ground yourself, it’s Be Time to the rescue. This traveling meditation bus is a soundproof bubble of calm that smells like a high-end spa. Hop aboard for a guided meditation and leave half an hour later with a more serene disposition.

Bus or spaceship? You decide | Courtesy of BeTime

A breathwork circle

School, Yoga Studio, Spa
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 Maha Rose, New York
Maha Rose, New York | © Lisa Miller / Maha Rose
By manipulating the breath, these gatherings enable you to access altered states of consciousness. In the resulting open and receptive state people report profound realizations, the emergence of lost memories and experiences of deep healing. There are physical effects too – tingling, lightheadedness and numbness can occur temporarily, but the facilitator will always swoop in to reassure you when needed. Maha Rose hosts regular breathwork circles at its cozy Greenpoint location.

Sound-bath therapy

Get comfortable on the floor in front of Sara Auster, close your eyes and zone out to the resonant hum of her tuning forks, crystal singing bowls, gongs and other overtone-emitting instruments. Sound baths are a relaxing auditory experience that eases attendees into a meditative state and sends tingles down their spines in the process. A must-try if the normal practice of sitting and watching the breath does nothing for you.

Take a sound bath | © SaraAuster.com

If you’re interested in a wellness-themed escape to New York, check out these curated recommendations which embrace slow travel – all bookable on Culture Trip.

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