There’s Bikram yoga, power yoga, aerial yoga, beach yoga….you may have think you’ve heard it all, but wait until you get a whiff of this.
To kick off the first day of National Yoga Month, I went to the Breathe Easy Spa in New York City, which has created a room made of salt to help you inhale and exhale through your Down Dog like never before.
The entire floor, like sand on the beach, is made of pink Himalayan rock salt. The walls, too, are covered with the micron-sized particles which emit naturally occurring negative ions through a process called halogenation. Touted benefits include reducing inflammation and detoxifying the lungs and sinuses. The small particles are supposed to embed deep into the lungs and once there, absorb bacteria, fight infection and help with mucus, which would otherwise block the airways. Just thirty minutes in the salt room can improve symptoms of allergies, asthma, snoring and sleep apnea, say the owners.
The teacher, Ellen Patrick, is a yoga therapist with over 1,200 hours of certified training under her belt. She helped me adjust my poses to do what works for my body and help me benefit the most. It’s a luxury not afforded in a normal yoga studio, where each person is worth a certain amount, monetarily, in square feet.
But, for the same price as a class anywhere else in New York City, I got personalized attention. In any given class, there are only four mats, total.
Ellen started off by pointing out that like our other muscles, our diaphragms are always working for us—unlike your biceps or your hamstrings, it is, like your heart, never able to really rest.
However, you can actually give your diaphragm a moment of relaxation, if you know how. When you inhale, your diaphragm contracts downwards, and when you exhale, it releases upwards. If you hold the breathe for a beat of two to four seconds before releasing, you give that muscle a chance to rest.
After realizing that something was going on with my feet and ankles—which is why I’ve had trouble in balancing poses for the past year—she also helped me understand why I should or when I shouldn’t bend my knees in order to stretch my back and open up the lungs.
I learned some new stretches, felt totally relaxed, and I slept soundly like a baby.
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