Just off Yorkville’s main drag, through the gilded lobby, into the elevator with its haunted-house bookshelves, past the traditional spa treatment rooms, and through an ominous heavy wooden door, is Toronto’s best kept self-care secret: salt cave therapy.
On a snowy Sunday, we traded in our down jackets for plush robes and settled into the zero-gravity chairs for a 45-minute session of breathing in the benefits of salt cave therapy, also known as halotherapy.
According to the Windsor Arms, regular halotherapy treatments may improve “respiratory ailments and lung function (including bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma), skin conditions (including psoriasis, eczema, and acne), allergies, sinusitis and ear infections, Cystic Fibrosis, blood circulation and lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system and protect against respiratory viruses (including the common cold and flu) as well as reduce stress.”
That’s a heck of a lot of responsibility for the stuff you usually sprinkle on your scrambled eggs.
And while it’s a growing trend among the in-the-know wellness set here in Toronto, and has been popular for some time in New York City where we recently tried out a treatment, we’re just catching on to what Europeans knew nearly two centuries ago. According to the Salt Therapy Association, the very first salt room was built in 1839 in Poland where visitors stepped into salt baths created by using natural brine from a mine underground.
So why is salt cave therapy becoming so popular now? “People are looking for an escape from their daily routines and salt rooms are a new and exciting experience,” Leslie McDonald and Kayla Kleinman of NYC wellness events company, Holistic Happening, told us. “It’s a beautiful room to enter and you just feel better entering one. In the world of wellness there are so many trendy things to try. In the case of salt rooms, it’s a non-invasive, low-key but effective way to add a little bit of wellness into your life.”
As spas and wellness centers in Toronto, New York City, and even Sedona, scramble to cash in on the trend, expect to find a mix of phenomenal spaces and “we threw some salt in a room” facilities. The best spots will combine a floor piled high with salt, walls lined with salt bricks, and salt generators (halogenerators) which pump salt particles into the air.
Halotherapy with a Side of Downward Dog
Enhancing the experience at some salt rooms includes unrolling a yoga mat and slipping into a series of asanas. It’s something McDonald and Kleinman have been offering in NYC for some time through Holistic Happening.
Combining salt cave therapy and yoga “felt like a no brainer for us and means you’re getting the benefits of both the yoga practice as well as the benefits of being in a salt room,” they told us. “Because the salt opens the lungs, combining it with yoga increases your breath and improves your ability to oxygenate the body. When we workout we often have to be reminded to breathe, but being in the salt room allows us to breathe easier and use the increased oxygen to fuel our workout. The salt also calms our mind and body so we feel less stressed when working out in the salt room.”
At the chic Modrn Sanctuary in New York City (which also offers a crystal bed treatment), you can choose from an array of classes in their salt cave including Mind Body Kinetics (to balance your chakras), meditation, craniosacral therapy, and crystal bowl sound healing.
Know Before You Go
“Have fun when you’re in the salt room,” McDonald and Kleinman told us. “We like to think of it as a day at the beach where you can feel the benefits of the salty water and sand without having to do too much. Even if you chill out in child’s pose during a salty yoga class, you’re still getting great health benefits from being in the room. Also, just relax when you’re in a salt room. You can sit, hang, nap, do basically anything in a salt room, and receive great health benefits to your mind and body!”
At the Windsor Arms’ salt cave, expect to be on your own in the four-person cave for your 45-minute session, where you’ll be given a robe and slippers to enhance the spa experience. Then sit back, relax, and breathe in the benefits.
There are few existing conditions which would keep someone from salt cave therapy, but as with any new treatment, it’s best to check with your doctor before you go.
Salt Caves in and Around Toronto: