Happy New Year everyone and welcome to the “31 Days of Wellness”! In years past, January 1st has commenced my 31 Days of Fitness odyssey, with SOS (aka me) sampling all the hottest workouts every day for 31 days straight. With a few nagging injuries from 2017, I decided to shift the focus this year from the outside to the inside with 31 days of the most buzzed about wellness 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, which can only happen with that mind and body connection.
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SOS WEEK OF WELLNESS GIVEAWAY
DEADLINE TO ENTER FRIDAY, MARCH 9 AT MIDNIGHT!
What’s also unique this January is that the first day of the week, year, and month are all on January 1. The planets have aligned for a fresh start! So here we go…
Day 1: HOT VINYASA YOGA. With most of the country in an arctic freeze, what a perfect way to kick off our 31 Days of Wellness than with a Hot Vinyasa class — especially as I started the new year with the 9 degree NYRR Midnight Run at 12:01am this morning!
So you’re thinking to yourself, ‘What’s new about yoga? It’s been around forever.’ Exactly! Yoga is the original mind-body workout and can be traced back 5000 years. Once for the crunchy granola set only, yoga has boomed into one of the most popular fitness trends and an estimated $34 billion dollar industry. Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Power, Kundalini, Bikram and many more, there are endless styles of yoga to fit your fitness personality and goals. Mine was to breathe, stretch and flow today – which is exactly what Vinyasa is. Vinyasa is a vigorous and more fluid style of yoga, with poses and sequences linked together in a continuous movement. In a studio heated to about 95 degrees at Pure Yoga, this was just the counter balance I needed. Stay tuned for more yoga practices to come this month!
Day 2: THE CLEANSE. I’ve seen everyone’s popular “Confused, Full of cheese” post on Instagram and all the comments in agreement! One thing I know in January is we all want to get those December pounds off fast. I’ve got a nice little champagne and sugar coating jiggling on my belly as we speak. For a few quick jump starts, here are a few of our favorite tried and true cleanses: The New Year’s Cleanse. From juices to shakes to food based cleanses, even a quick 3-day cleanse is a great way to press the restart button and get back on track. I’m taking a month long approach myself with the Burn & Build Body 28-Day Power Food Diet. Basically that means no sugar, alcohol, dairy or gluten. I was definitely missing that cozy glass of red wine last night in the arctic chill of winter!
Day 3: MEDITATION. Probably one of the biggest wellness trends of the last few years is meditation and the boutique studios that have opened up in New York, LA, and other major cities. We featured the most popular in: Keep Calm & Meditate On. Unplug in LA was the first to open the door to a more modern approach to meditation, taking it out of the esoteric TM (Transcendental Mediation) I remember my parents trying in the 70’s, to a mainstream practice. I took my first foray last night at Mndfl.
With 3 locations in NYC, Mndfl studios have a very minimal but stylish zen appeal in both the design of the meditation room and the waiting lounge. It feels like an oasis and escape from the intensity of the city on the other side of its windows. Mndfl offers wide a selection of classes, each with a different focus, from Intention to Energy to Breath. By chance I took the 30 minute Sound class, one their most popular, and perhaps a great one with which to start.
Meditation is a practice that teaches us to focus our attention and gain clarity by being present in the present. Sounds so simple, but we all know how difficult that can be with the stress and distractions we encounter in our daily lives. With few words spoken and the instruction given just to listen, the humming vibration tones of the crystal singing bowls played by the instructor lulled me into staying present. Yes, I found myself drifting occasionally into thoughts of what to have for dinner, but it’s a “practice”. The 30 minutes flew by and I found myself very calm and relaxed as I left – eager come back and try one of their other offerings next!
Prices vary for 30 and 45-minute classes, with introductory prices starting at $10.
Day 4: FLOTATION THERAPY. Sensory deprivation or isolation therapy, flotation therapy goes by a number of names, but in essence is the practice of floating in a light and sound reduced tank, pod, or cabin. A practice first invented in the 1950’s, many of us remember its popularity in the 1980’s and the movie, Altered States.
Flotation Therapy has undergone a resurgence in this booming wellness era, and I jumped in at Infinity Float, a sleek and modern float room located at the QFlatiron wellness center in Manhattan. This beautifully designed private cabin features glowing a blue light and star lit ceiling, along with chill new age music to calm and relax you as you float. Though the goal is for the room to be dark and without sound – sensation deprived – for the novice or experienced, this is a very soothing environment in itself.
Filled with over 1000 lbs. of magnesium sulfate, Flotation Therapy is like taking a giant Epsom Salt bath. For aches and pains, what could be better! Many athletes use flotation therapy as part of their sport recovery program. Because of the high salt saturation, the body floats effortlessly in a state of anti-gravity, which produces an intense relaxation response as the heart rate is decreased, blood pressure lowered, and muscle tension released. Spinal decompression occurs as those stability and postural muscles let go.
While in theory, this should feel amazing, the body does need a little time to adjust, for some more than others. I am fidgety by nature, and did find myself squirming around trying to get comfortable at first in the anti-gravity float, particularly with the lower back pain I’ve been experiencing. All of this is normal, however, and more than one float is advised to really gain the full benefits. The beauty of the treatment at Infinity is the session is one hour. When I realized I had not drifted from side to side, floating perfectly still, and could not feel the difference between the water and air, I knew my body had finally let go of that tension. Another one of the benefits is a boost in endorphins and the feel good hormone dopamine. I definitely was buzzing when I left, and a little spacey too. All in a day’s work on the wellness beat!
Infinity Float is located at 224 Fifth Ave. First Time Introductory Package of 3 floats available for $200.
Day 5: CRYOTHERAPY. We first wrote about cryotherapy in early 2015, about a year before it caught on as one of the hot new wellness and therapeutic trends. Cryotherapy was on our radar as a cutting-edge sports recovery tool, popular among top professional athletes, many of whom had their own cryochambers at home. The translation of Cryotherapy is literally cold therapy. The body is exposed to arctic temperatures of up to 240F below zero – yes, you heard right – for 2 to 3 minutes, as a pain relief and anti-inflammatory therapy. Why I chose to do cryotherapy on a day it was 14 degrees outside I’m not sure, but there I was freezing, literally, inside Cryofuel, the stylish boutique cryotherapy facility on Canal St.
For years the ice bath was the only cold therapy treatment. Cryotherapy offers those same therapeutic benefits, but with more rapid short term freezing, as compared to the gradual, uncomfortable, and deep cooling of an ice bath. With Cryotherapy the skin surface is quickly cooled to about 32F, chilled by liquid nitrogen gas. Because the cryochamber creates a controlled environment with no moisture or air currents, you actually don’t perceive the cold to be as extreme as it is — especially with the attendant on hand whose primary job seems to be to distract you. It would, in fact, be far more uncomfortable to stand outside naked in the freezing cold for 2 minutes, than inside 10 times as cold cryochamber.
Besides treatment for sports injuries and chronic pain, cryotherapy has other physiological benefits as well. With exposure to such extreme cold, the body goes into survival mode. There is increased oxygen production, circulation goes into high gear, and the result post treatment is a feeling of euphoria as the “I’m alive!” adrenaline floods the system. Cryotherapy provides a natural high… no wonder everyone is “buzzing” about it!
Cryofuel is located at 499 Canal St. Prices start at $75 per session with lower priced packages available.
Day 6: INFRARED HEAT THERAPY. From the chill of cryotherapy to the heat of FAR Infrared Therapy we go – the perfect antidote on yet another arctic day here in NYC! This toasty idea was suggested by my buddy Alysia Reiner of Orange Is the New Black fame, who we featured a couple of months ago in W.O.W! Working Out With. She booked us two spots at a new heat retreat on the Upper East Side called Shape House , billed as “an urban sweat lodge.”
Sweating is hardly new, but a wellness practice that dates back to the bathhouses of ancient Greece and Rome. In the modern era, steam rooms and saunas have long been a fixture in gyms and spas, and sweating recognized as a calming and restorative treatment for body and mind alike. FAR Infrared Heat therapy is relatively new however, with the distinction that its penetrating heat warms the body from the inside out, as opposed to the other way around. These targeted rays stimulate the body’s thermoregulatory response to induce a deep, detoxifying sweat. FAR Infrared heat is now commonly used in saunas, and in the custom-designed infrared beds and blankets in which you are wrapped at Shape House.
The benefits of sweating are numerous for relaxation, detoxification, weight-loss, and overall health and well-being. Heat has a pain-relieving effect as well, as it increases blood flow. When the body is exposed to FAR Infrared heat it goes into overdrive working to maintain normal temperature. This results in a boosting of the metabolism, burning fat and calories even after the session is over. That’s a bonus we can all enjoy post-holiday season!
While I would not compare Shape House to the communal sweat lodge experience I envisioned, it was certainly enjoyable lying there sweating in my own private cocoon, complete with headphones and Netflix loaded television to watch. With each session lasting 55 minutes, it gave me just enough time to sweat through another episode of The Crown!
Shape House has locations in New York and Los Angeles. Prices start at $62/session for a package of 5.
CLOCKWISE TOP LEFT; LAIRD SUPERFOOD TURMERIC CREAMER; GAIA HERBS GOLDEN MILK; BLUEPRINT APPLE CIDER VINEGAR TURMERIC TONIC; NUMI TURMERIC CHAI GOLDEN LATTE; VOSAGES TURMERIC GINGER EXOTIC CHOCOLATE BAR; VEGAN ROB’S TURMERIC SUPERGRAIN CHIPS
Day 7: TURMERIC. Popping up in smoothies, teas, chips, chocolate, and healthy recipes online everywhere, turmeric has become one of the most buzzed about wellness supplements. Even Starbucks has jumped onboard offering a Turmeric Latte (UK only), but I get my kick from Laird Superfood Turmeric Creamer, the famed big wave surfer’s line of coffee creamers. Why is everyone suddenly obsessed with this ancient yellow spice?
Turmeric is part of the ginger family and the spice that gives curry its yellow color. It has been used in India and Asia for thousands of years as a spice and medicinal herb. Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric, recognized for its powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. “Anti-inflammation” is one of those terms you hear all the time and perhaps don’t really understand how it affects your overall health. Inflammation is part of the body’s immune response to disease and injury, and short term is a good thing. Long term it’s not, and often occurs as a byproduct of our modern lifestyle — things like lack of sleep, excessive stress, and an unhealthy diet. Chronic inflammation can lead to weight gain, fatigue, skin and digestive issues, as well as a host of diseases from diabetes to obesity to cancer.
You can see why anti-inflammatory foods, like turmeric are so important. Turmeric comes in a supplement form, but why not get these health benefits in the foods and drinks you already enjoy? The exotic nutty flavor of turmeric tastes great and spices up any recipe!