Finding Your Balance through Holistic Travel

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Finding Your Balance through Holistic Travel

“How is your body feeling today?” asks Lori Bell, the resident acupuncturist at The Standard Spa, Miami Beach, as I hopped up on to the massage table. It took me a second to think about what she was asking. Not “How are you feeling?” but how my body—mentally and physically—was feeling. I exhaled. “Tired,” I responded, as she took a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol and prepped the skin on my hip for a B-12 shot.

“This should help then,” she responded gently, as I felt the slight prick of the acupuncture needle penetrate my skin, and the vitamin start making its way through my veins. My doctors recommended B-12 as a way to find balance of a medicinal kind, since it not only boosts energy and the immune system, it’s also supposed to speed up metabolism, offer mental clarity and improve sleep—all things I was desperately after since I was averaging four hours of sleep a night and about to hop on a 15-hour flight to South Africa the following day.

The B-12 shot was the beginning of my “me day” at The Standard Spa, in an attempt to find some semblance of balance before jetting off again. For the past month, I had been going at full speed, running from different countries and continents. I hadn’t even taken the time to think about my body. I was so wrapped up in my head taking notes on my current trip, writing articles about previous trips and plotting trips for the weeks ahead.

Hammam at The Standard Courtesy of The Standard Spa, Miami Beach.jpg
Image: Courtesy of The Standard Spa, Miami Beach

After my brief encounter with Bell, I was given a set of The Standard Spa’s signature white robe and slippers and led into the hammam. The masseuse came in to find me lounging on the marble slab and directed me into the treatment room. “What is your body feeling today?” she asked, in similar style to the acupuncturist.

When I booked this “Essential Healing” massage with the holistic healer, it was the description that really drew me in, since it’s designed to “reclaim your creativity and passion for life…integrating the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual so you can live life in peak condition.”

“I have designed our treatments to be transformative, longer rituals to allow for stillness and for our guests to find their meditative state,” explains spa director Mina Gough. “Our holistic and restorative treatments are all designed to be personalized experiences, not one-size-fits-all. We have a comprehensive selection of programming and in-depth services to inspire our guests to explore and achieve balance in their lives.”

Gough summed up the massage perfectly. The masseuse weaved in a mix of deep tissue massage, reiki and chakra balancing that left me in a trance-like state 90 minutes later. It’s spas and boutique fitness studios like these that are making it easier than ever to find your balance on the road with more than just a meditation session.

Before heading off on a business trip to New York City, I heard whispers of Taryn Toomey’s The Class, a workout that mixes moments of internal reflection and breath work with the chicest set of burpees you’ve ever performed. No surprise it’s become a favorite of celebs like Christy Turlington Burns and Naomi Watts. “I’m a firm believer in balance,” founder Taryn Toomey says. “I don’t adhere to a strict belief system of right or wrong. I simply check in to see how I’m feeling and if something needs to shift to make me feel centered, I do that.”

The former fashion industry exec (who looks straight out of a Free People catalogue) launched The Class in her Tribeca apartment building back in 2011 before moving to a nearby space lined with sleek oak wood floors and jagged quartz crystal light fixtures. Think of this as SoulCycleBallet Beautiful with its mind-body meditation moments and serious toning moves. Toomey DJs a killer soundtrack while encouraging you to close your eyes, let loose and forget about everything happening outside of the space. “There is a lot of fire, sweat and sound, but we balance that with moments of quiet reflection,” she explains. “After opening the body, mind and spirit in such a powerful way, we close the practice with breath work and meditation. We move through this arc of experiences and return to ourselves in that process.”

AYANA FUSION courtesy of AYANA Resort and Spa.jpg
Image: Courtesy of AYANA Resort and Spa

When it comes to finding balance in a far-flung locale, Bali consistently ranks high on the list. AYANA Resort and Spa on the southernmost peninsula is one spot that really knows how to bring out the works, with treatments weaving in everything from diamonds to pearls. Spa villas sit on rocks suspended over the Indian Ocean, so you can hear the waves lapping below while renewing your spirit or balancing your body’s energy centers with a sea-themed treatment like the Hot Shell Massage. Similar to the more traditional hot stone version, this massage incorporates the centuries-old belief that shells offer a spiritual connection to feminine energy, while soothing your spirit and balancing energy centers.

At The Oyster Box in Durban, South Africa, you can also find balance in massage version with the Chakra Balancing Candle Massage. Make your way from the rock-lined Umhlanga beachfront to the spa, surrounded by tropical gardens with monkeys darting in and out of trees. Here you can start your experience zenning out in the traditional Turkish hammam—the only in the country—before laying down for the color therapy-based massage, which incorporates soy candles and accompanying oil scents for a full-body massage designed to get each of your seven chakras back in balance.


Lane Nieset is Paste’s Jet-Set Bohemian columnist and a freelance writer covering all things travel from her home base in Nice, France.

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