Massages and bubble baths are nice, but these restorative practices and experiences will help you relieve stress and feel more relaxed than ever.
By Michelle McAllister
Featured photo via NeuroFitness Wellness Center
Stress seems to be part of everyday life now. With that, there are countless experts that tell you self-care is essential: Get a massage, take a bubble bath, meditate, exercise. The suggestions are endless. But maybe you want to try something new to unwind? If so, check out these unique ways to be more chill.
Yin Restorative Yoga
Tiny Buddha Yoga
This hour-long class is amazing! Hosted several times during the week, this class takes place in dim light as the instructor leads participants through a set of restorative poses that incorporate meditation and deep breathing, while working the deep fascia tissue within your muscles. It’s great for relaxation as well as an excellent way to stretch and release your muscles — you leave the session feeling like you just had a massage. I’ve taken this class with five different instructors. Each brings their own spin to the class, but all provide a wonderful, refreshing experience.
Gong Immersion Class
Sacred Wave Gong Immersions
808 N. Rochester Road, Clawson
I recently took a 90-minute gong immersion class, and it was more than I ever imagined! Resting on a cot with an eye mask and covered in a blanket, the class immediately immerses you in the sounds of multiple gongs to soothe your mind and body. The instructor, Christopher Davis, a certified national health professional with over 25 years of experience, led us through this class that aims to help quiet mental chatter, improve your chi and accelerate healing potential. At the end of the class, Christopher brought us back to the present gently and offered the finishing touch — a piece of chocolate to head back out into the world. I can’t wait to go back and bring some friends to experience this!
Ashiatsu Bar Therapy
Vis-a-Vis Salon and Spa
320 Miller Ave., Suite 171, Ann Arbor
Still need a massage to chill out? If so, I’d recommend the Ashiatsu Bar Therapy at Vis-a-Vis Salon and Spa in Ann Arbor. This massage uses an overhead bar system where most of the massage is performed by the therapist’s feet, allowing for deeper pressure to release the toxins in the muscles, relieve tight muscles and induce relaxation. I’d suggest the 90-minute treatment for the most benefits. This ancient massage technique started over 3,000 years ago in the far east, and you get to experience it right here in Ann Arbor.
NeuroFitness Wellness Center
6360 Jackson Road, Suite A, Ann Arbor
When I found Neuro Fitness Wellness Center on the edge of Ann Arbor, I hit the jackpot. Located in an unassuming strip mall, I did not know what to expect. You enter a sleek, clean, quite center that makes you forget about everything happening outside. My services started with a 60-minute floatation therapy session. Floatation therapy is a zero-gravity experience that allows your mind and body to relax. After a shower to remove the oils and perfumes from your skin, you enter either a floatation pod or WAVE float room (I tried the pod), filled with near skin temperature water and over 800 pounds of Epson salt to create a weightlessness experience. You can choose to float with lights and music on or off. Since I was in the pod with the lid closed, I started with the lights and gentle music playing. About half way through the session (or what I perceived as half way through the session), I switched the light and the music off and just spent time being. At the end of the session, I was surprised I was able to turn my mind off and even more surprised how energized I felt! I can’t wait to go back and do this again.
Once out the floatation pod and after a quick shower, I was off to my haleotherapy or salt therapy treatment. This century-old practice has been touted to relieve respiratory illness, improve skin and strengthen immune systems. Since I do not have any of these issues, I was skeptical if I would recognize any benefits. The salt therapy room was quite small, but the chairs were comfortable, so I settled in for my 30-minute session while a halogenerator diffused salt into the air. Within minutes, my skin seemed more alive (it made me think back to vacations by an ocean) and my airways opened. It was a great way to end the floatation therapy and gave me time to contemplate the experience I just had.
I enjoyed my visit to NeuroFitness so much, I decided to go back and try cryotherapy. I’ve been dealing with a pesky Achilles issue and had heard that cryotherapy activates your nervous, immune and endocrine systems to reduce pain and inflammation. Since I’ve already tried physical therapy, and acupuncture for my Achilles, I was willing to give it a shot.
After dressing in a robe, socks, booties and gloves, I climbed into the tube. The attendant stayed during the treatment to ensure I did not have any problems. After choosing the medium temperature (-165 F, -185 F or -210 F), I was ready to go. A three-minute therapy does not sound like a long time until you factor in the cold. It felt like an eternity!
After getting out, I tried to assess how I felt. Besides cold, I felt more alive somehow and after an hour or so, I felt more energetic and my headache was gone. My Achilles has not hurt since, and I am five days out from treatment. Score!
Fascial Stretching Therapy
As someone who likes to do half marathons for the fun of it, I often find myself with tight hamstrings, IT bands and quads. Fascial stretching therapy is a modality that helps increase your range of motion, relax and relieve tightness. I think of this as a guided stretching treatment that takes place on a treatment table and uses muscle manipulation and traction to stretch the muscle tissue. This pain-free technique always makes me feel loose when I am done. Wildly Fit owners Amy and Christian Wilds, both certified therapists, are incredible. They work with you to address your problem areas in a calming atmosphere. If you play any type of sport, this is a must for recovery!
There are a variety of relaxation services out there to try besides an ordinary massage. In addition to focusing on the mind and the body, these services allow you to be adventurous and help you make your body stronger and healthier.
Michelle McAllister is an avid traveler and on-the-go mom, who loves to give back to her community. She’s a 20-year resident of the Ann Arbor area and is always searching for the next thing to do locally. She’s loves adventure and has been to 49 states and 42 countries because of her wanderlust. Follow her adventures at adventuresinbucketlisting.com.