AIRE ANCIENT BATHS
January has 31 Days of Wellness! Our monthlong journey through the wellness landscape continues with more of the most buzzed about trends, classes, and studios. Yoga, meditation, sleep, breathwork, cleanses, sensory experiences, restorative therapies, and more… it’s about looking good AND feeling good in 2018!
Day 8: AIRE ANCIENT BATHS. Communal Bathhouses have long been a part of every culture from the Arabic hammam to the Roman thermae to the Russian banya. The design and architecture of these spaces are as much a part of their rich history as the restorative effects of the thermal waters themselves. Following in this tradition is Aire Ancient Baths in Tribeca, with other locations in cities worldwide.
All Aire Ancient Baths are located in restored historical buildings in the heart of a bustling city. The Tribeca location is underground in what was a textile factory originally built in 1883. A gorgeous work of architecture, industrial yet serene in its design, it is now a totally immersive and relaxing wellness space, enhanced by the exposed brick, dim candlelight, and of course, the multiple glowing pools.
Each pool or bath is a different temperature and mineral composition, and provides a unique experience. We’ve all heard the expression “taking the waters” and that’s what I did in the 90-minute session that consists of a tour through the Caldarium (Hot Bath 102ºF), Frigidarium (Cold Bath 57ºF and Ice Bath 50ºF), Tepidarium (Warm Bath 97ºF), Balneum (Bath of a Thousand Jets), and Flotarium (Salt Water Bath). There is also the Laconicum (Steam Room with aromatherapy), as well as the salt exfoliation area. One can opt for a 30, 45 or 60-minute massage as well, in which I did indulge to top it all off, because when in Rome… wait, I’m in New York City! In this hidden oasis underground, you forget where you are.
Aire Ancient Baths is located in Tribeca at 88 Franklin St. Experiences start at $81 for a 90-minute session.
Day 9: HIP HOP YOGA. Aside from the well-known yoga disciplines like Ashtanga, Bikram and Vinyasa, there are host of modern offshoots now on the wellness scene, one of the most popular being hip hop yoga. Y7 is the original hip hop yoga studio, and for those who don’t like the traditional new age approach, this might be your jam.
With a hip hop soundtrack, candlelight and Infrared heated room, Y7 features two signature classes, “WeFlowHard™ Vinyasa” and “WeFlowHard™ Slow Burn”. Since I had done the Vinyasa class last January, I decided to try the Slow Burn, its deeper more mindful approach seeming more in tune with my wellness focus this year. Any preconceived notion that this might be an easier class, was quickly dashed. Whereas the Vinyasa class moves at a fast non-stop pace, in Slow Burn poses are fewer and held longer, living up to the name of the class. Deceptively hard, this yoga class almost felt like strength and toning workout that frankly, kind of kicked my butt. With just enough food for thought given by the instructor about January resolutions and my intentions set, my mind got some exercise too.
Y7 has studios in NYC and LA, with a new West Coast flagship just opened in Silver Lake.
Day 10: PRANAYAMA & APNEA BREATHING. I just finished breathing for 40 minutes. That may sound slightly silly as we all breathe all day long, but many of us actually don’t – not correctly at least. Pranayama breathing is at the heart of any yoga practice, and its rhythmic inhale-exhale cadence by which we should breathe regularly, has caught on as its own wellness practice. The New York Times just reported on Saturday, what many of us have already discovered: deep controlled breathing can calm the nervous system, provide stress relief and mental clarity. In addition to the psychological benefits, breathwork can be used to enhance sports performance as well.
We first reported on sport performance breathing in the context of the The XPT Experience: big wave surfer Laird Hamilton, and former pro Volleyball player Gabby Reece’s 3-day extreme fitness clinics. There Pranayama breathing, in combination with Apnea breath holds, are used as both a warm-up to increase aerobic capacity, and recovery to decompress after a hard workout. The feel good benefits of the endorphins released by this breathwork, as well as the calming effects it provides, can’t help to translate into everyday life.
It’s not surprising that breathwork has become a discipline in its own right. Equinox now offers a class called HeadStrong, and there are a number of apps dedicated to the practice. Two in particular we like are Inscape and the Apnea Trainer. For a quick breathing routine at home, here are a couple easy ones to try:
Before working out, we want to get the body prepped and ready for action — to make more oxygen available for exertion. Try an inhale – hold – exhale – hold pattern in a 1-1-1-1 sequence. For example, inhale for 5 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds, hold on exhale for 5 seconds. Do that for 10 minutes at an interval that feels comfortable. It might be 5 seconds, it might be more or less. Just do what do feels best for you.
As opposed to revving the body up pre-workout, here we want to bring it down. To do so we extend the breath holds, which helps get rid of excess CO2 and calm the system. The rhythm changes to 1-4-2 sequence. For example, try a 5 second inhale, followed by 20 second breath hold, and then a 10 second exhale. Feel good!
Day 11: COMPRESSION THERAPY. As I’m discovering throughout this wellness journey, many of the popular trends are great for sports performance and recovery. Conversely, many sports and rehab therapies have become popular wellness treatments as well. Today’s compression therapy is a perfect example.
Originally used as a powerful tool to treat a multitude of circulatory and venous conditions, and heal post-op patients, compression therapy has become a favorite of top athletes looking to optimize performance and speed post-workout recovery. The Air Relax is an affordable, professional quality, compression therapy apparatus designed for home use. With its slip-in, zip-up, full leg design, this easy-to-use device delivers dynamic pneumatic compression that boosts the lymphatic system and helps flush out lactic acid, the cause of muscle soreness and fatigue.
The Air Relax pumps air from your toes to your hips throughout its four chambers, and features different modes and pressure settings that can be customized to your preference. So whether recovering from a tough workout or just chilling out, the rolling squeezing and compression of leg muscles feels great and is super relaxing… as you can see in the photo above!
Day 12: BULLETPROOF COFFEE. Bulletproof Coffee has people buzzing… literally. I’m drinking a cup as I write this post. They brewed it for me at Whole Foods where it’s on the coffee bar menu. The Bulletproof theory is by adding 2 tablespoons of grass-fed butter or ghee, plus 1 tablespoon of MCT oil to a cup of organic coffee, you will turn your morning brew into an energy-boosting, brain-fueling, fat-burning meal.
Studies have shown recently, contrary to previous research, that coffee is actually quite good for you. As we reported in Another Cup of Coffee?, certified organic, high-altitude grown coffee (not the cheap stuff) has been proven to help prevent heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimers, along with other health benefits. Grass-fed butter or ghee adds high-quality fats and essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, beta-carotene, fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, and antioxidants. MCT Oil is derived from 100% pure coconut oil, and Bulletproof has rebranded it “Brain Octane Oil” because it rapidly converts to ketone fuel which your brain uses more efficiently than carbs or sugar. Because of the saturated fat, both these ingredients slow the absorption of caffeine for more sustained energy and suppress hunger too.
Bulletproof coffee is actually quite creamy and delicious, and many substitute their morning cup for breakfast. The key here, as with any high-fat diet, is no sugar added. Among Bulletproof coffee’s listed benefits are fat-burning by way of ketosis, a metabolic state triggered by a lack of carbs. When you add the sweet stuff, you add calories, and defeat the purpose.
Here is the Bulletproof Recipe. I’m having a cup for lunch today!
Day 13: WOOM CENTER. Throughout the two-hour Super Woom Experience this morning, I found myself wondering how I was going to describe this class. A yogi friend had recommended it, and I knew it was a yoga class that combined some sort of light and sound show, but really I had no idea about the multi-sensory immersive experience for which I was in store.
Woom Center is located in bright walk-up space on Bowery Street. Upon entering the studio you find yourself in an airy café with unique teas and special elixir milks on the menu. The cafe is a hangout in itself, filled with groovy looking girls and hot yoga guys. For visual reference I could see an episode of Girls being filmed here. It’s definitely a scene, but in yoga terms, a community. Everybody knows each other.
Walking in the yoga woom (that’s not a typo), I was told to grab the usual yoga blocks, but also an eye mask too. On the inside of one eye was written “Look”, and the other “Inside”. Class began on the mat, but to quickly challenge the expectations of the regulars, moved to the periphery of the room for wall sits with those yoga blocks. Arms were placed shoulder level against the wall, hands up at right angles, and other body parts moved very specifically. I would experience that all movement has intention here.
We then returned to the mat where the audio experience began. Eye masks went on. The gongs began. Slow and deliberate yoga poses followed, a moving meditation. Eye masks came off and these yoga asanas started building into a heated Vinyasa flow incorporating elements from sound therapy, like vocal toning and use of overtone-emitting instruments. Visuals were projected on the walls that ranged from simple colors to images of birds flying. The room got hotter and the aroma of the herb burned at the beginning of class became more powerful, almost overwhelming as all senses were engaged, and class peaked in intensity. Then it all started slowing and quieting down as class wrapped up, and finished with a shot of a sweet turmeric elixir (see day 7) on the way out. Taste would be the final sensation experienced.
The description of the class is as follows: “Our signature vinyasa yoga practice. Highly inspired by non-ordinary states of consciousness, The WOOM Experience format perfectly integrates the audio/visual system in order to facilitate a stimulating, sense-enhancing environment for the practice”. That is exactly what happens. Even for someone like me who usually scoffs at this sort of thing and groans at the thought of a two-hour yoga class, I get why the place is packed.
Woom Center is located at 274 Bowery St. Unlimited and different Experience packages available.
Day 14: MEDITATION APPS. As we highlighted on day 3, meditation has become one of the biggest wellness trends over the last few years, with boutique fitness like meditation studios opening across the country. There also now a plethora of meditation apps you can download right onto your phone. Headspace, Breethe, Calm, and Inscape are a few of the most popular, and allow the ease and convenience, no matter where you are, of grabbing a little time to destress, focus, unwind, energize, sleep and a host of other programmable options. I just took 5 minutes to “Revitalize” before writing this post, am going to try “Sweet Dreams” before bed, and then “Wake Up with Intention” in the morning. Will let you know how I feel tomorrow as we kick off…