Where to do it: Quebec
Developed in the early 1980s in California by Harold Dull, this form of water therapy is performed in warm water. Through a combination of massage, stretching and even light dance, Watsu reduces stress and encourages deep relaxation.
Try it at: At Spa Eastman in Eastman, Quebec, this service is performed in a shallow pool heated to 36˚C by a therapist who will guide the guest through the water using a combination of cradling, stretching, fluid movement and Shiatsu massage techniques.
Crystal Healing Therapy
Where to do it: Scottsdale, Arizona
In the past couple of years, crystals and gemstones have become synonymous with wellness. Thought to possess various healing qualities—clear quartz is said to boost the immune system, while rose quartz improves circulation—spas are incorporating crystals into treatments to promote healing and to balance the chakras.
Try it at: At Scottsdale’s Boulders Resort & Spa, the Turquoise Wrap incorporates its namesake in this luxe treatment, which includes a Vichy rinse and a wrap with ionized turquoise clay. The crystal itself—said to create a sense of peace—is placed on the forehead to aid in meditation.
Where to do it: Saint Lucia
Among the most popular holistic offerings at spas these days is Ayurveda. Developed thousands of years ago in India, this ancient practice is based on keeping the three doshas—your natural life energies—in balance to ensure good overall health.
Try it at: The BodyHoliday in Saint Lucia offers a range of Ayurvedic treatments, including Shirodhara, which involves the slow and steady pouring of a stream of warmed oil on your forehead (third eye). Prepare to feel a prevailing serenity.
Where to do it: Boston and Belize
Wellness programs aimed at helping you unplug have become a major focus at spas and resorts, many located in remote, off-the-grid locations.
Try it at: Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch adventure company in Belize is located just off the Hummingbird Highway and the team there make it easy to resist the urge to stay connected. But you don’t need to go into the wilderness to disconnect—at The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Boston, the Digital Wellness Escape (an 80-minute treatment) begins with surrendering all of your devices, followed by a foot-cleansing ritual using shungite stones, thought to shield the body from electromagnetic radiation. A massage focusing on the shoulders, neck, head and eyes, along with a trigger point massage to the hands and feet to relieve strain caused by phone use, round out the session.
Where to do it: Vernon, B.C.
Thought to help reduce inflammation, aid in pain management and ease depression, cryotherapy is being hailed as a natural healer. But in order to reap the benefits, you have to brave really cold temps.
Try it at: Sign up for a session at KurSpa at Sparkling Hill Resort in Vernon, B.C., where you’ll don protective gear and move through three chambers, each one getting gradually colder, until you reach a bone-chilling -110 ˚C. The treatment lasts about three minutes, and a spa professional checks your body vitals along the way.
Where to do it: Miami and Santa Barbara
Popular in parts of Europe since the 1800s, halotherapy (halos is the Greek word for salt) has come to North America in the form of human-made salt caves, caverns and chambers. This treatment involves sitting in salt-lined caves and breathing in the benefits; salt has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties so it can alleviate a variety of respiratory and skin conditions.
Try it at: At âme Spa & Wellness Collective, located inside the Turnberry Isle Miami resort, the salt room is lined with Himalayan salt bricks, and a halogenerator grinds and disperses pure Himalayan salt into the space. You simply relax in the chamber, which is said to help ease respiratory ailments and skin conditions such as eczema. The Salt Cave Santa Barbara wellness centre features one of North America’s largest underground, man-made salt caves. To reap the benefits, guests simply settle into a zero-gravity chair and listen to relaxing music while breathing deeply.
Where to do it: Merida, Mexico
Around since pre-Hispanic times, temazcal ceremonies are gaining new popularity throughout Mexico. Temazcal is Aztec for “house of heat.”
Try it at: In the Yucatán region, just a 30-minute drive from Mérida, Chablé Spa at Chablé Resort & Spa offers this traditional purification and healing ceremony guided by a local shaman. Sitting inside a steamy, dome-shaped hut for an hour, breathing in the scent of herbs (and perhaps reciting musical chants), you will not only sweat out toxins, but maybe, according to ancestral tradition, even experience a “rebirth.”
Where to do it: New York and British Columbia
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The term forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, was coined in Japan in the 1980s and introduced to the country’s public health programs to reap the therapeutic effects of spending time in the forest and observing its sights, smells and sounds. The idea is simple: take a mindful walk through wooded areas while focusing on your breathing and surroundings. The practice is said to increase energy and improve your mood.
Try it at: New York State’s Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz is a prime locale for forest bathing thanks to its more than 135 kilometres of wooded trails. Guided walks with a mindfulness expert are also available. And at Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort in Parksville, B.C., guests who book the resort’s Reconnect Package are led by naturalists from Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tours into the surrounding forest, filled with old-growth trees, for a guided hike and forest bathing experience.
Where to do it: Winnipeg
This centuries-old bathing tradition, also known as a Turkish bath, has become a common addition to North American spa facilities in recent years.
Try it at: One of the continent’s most authentic hamams can be found at Winnipeg’s Ten Spa. Here, a Hamam Fully Loaded treatment comes complete with all the traditional accoutrements: a gommage (exfoliating) glove, olive oil soap and cool water poured from an authentic tas bowl. While you lay on a heated, tiled bed, you’ll be lathered, rinsed, scrubbed, then rinsed, soaped and rinsed again, leaving you feeling squeaky clean and relaxed.
Read more: A first-timer’s guide to hamam
Where to do it: Gilbert, Arizona
Touted as yoga’s newest trend, goat yoga does, indeed, involve real-life goats.
Try it at: Arizona Goat Yoga offers these unique classes three to four times a week at The Welcome Home Ranch in Gilbert, Ariz. (about 30 minutes from Phoenix), with goats roaming around freely during the one-hour session. Prepare for baby goats nibbling on your toes or even walking on your back mid-pose. You’ll reap all the benefits of a typical yoga class with the added bonus of pet therapy—proven to relieve stress and release endorphins.
Yoga Retreats in the Bahamas, Arizona, Mexico, Ireland and Hawaii
Practicing yoga is the perfect way to wind down after a busy holiday season. Stretch it out on the beach or get your downward facing dog on in the mountains at these luxurious yoga retreats in the Bahamas, Arizona, Ireland, Mexico or Hawaii.