I love the boundless energy of New York City. But all that hustle often sends me in search of an oasis of calm to recharge my mind, body and spirit. Before traveling through Asia, I usually relied on a good workout to help get me out of my head and back into my body. But after visiting an ashram in India, I fell in love with mind-body practices like yoga. I also experienced firsthand the rejuvenating powers of body treatments, such as acupressure, to help release blocked energy and restore balance.
When I returned to New York, I discovered that my hometown is actually filled with places that offer the same types of treatments I experienced during my travels. Over the years, I’ve become a regular at my favorite finds. Here’s the inside scoop on five of them that make it easy to get a wellness or beauty fix for yourself in the big city.
Get a massage.
I like one-stop beauty shops, such as Haven Spa NYC in Soho, that offer blowouts and manicures along with therapeutic massages. I get rejuvenated and I save time getting ready if I need to run to a meeting or to dinner afterward. This spa has a steam room and a relaxation area in addition to hair and mani/pedi stations so it feels a lot like a mini-retreat.
My favorite Haven treatment is the massage (which shall not be named) that stimulates specific pressure points to boost lymph flow, decrease fluid retention in muscles and eliminate toxins. It’s an excellent jet-lag reliever, so the spot is my go-to after a long flight.
Strengthen your core.
New Yorkers flock to the seven locations (29 outposts worldwide) of Exhale, a fitness and spa center for beauty treatments and workout classes that focus on holistic wellness. Its signature class is Core Fusion Barre, which is my favorite. The class is a deceptively challenging workout that uses light weights, planks and ballet-inspired moves to sculpt your entire body. Work up a sweat and walk away feeling calm? Sign me up!
You’ll need socks for the barre classes, but if you forget, they’re available for sale in Exhale’s onsite boutiques, along with a variety of chic yoga clothing and gear. You can also live-stream the classes at home if you can’t make it to a studio.
Indulge in a quick facial.
With four locations in New York City and 15 worldwide, Skin Laundry is my favorite place for a facial when I’m pressed for time, want instant results before an event (or a date night), or just want to combat the effects of city pollution on my complexion. The Laser & Light facial takes just 15 minutes and uses a combination of a YAG Laser (a resurfacer) and IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) to deep clean and tighten skin without any downtime. I’ll admit I was skeptical at first, but immediately after my session, friends complimented my “glow,” and I swear my skin looked more plump.
Your first treatment at Skin Laundry is free!
Ground yourself with yoga.
Laughing Lotus is hands-down my favorite yoga studio in the city. It combines heart-pumping vinyasa flows with meditation and (often) music, so I always leave class with a calm, happy buzz and a more limber body. If you’re comfortable chanting some om shantis, or are up for at least trying, you’ll likely enjoy this yoga experience that’s a counterpoint to the typical fast-paced New York City vibe.
Check the website for details about fun workshops and events like Living with Heart, which includes yoga, journaling and mudras (hand gestures geared toward shifting energy) to help you reconnect with yourself.
Visit a health spa.
I’ve been visiting Organic Mama Spa for years. Located on the Lower East Side, it’s a small and simple health spa that uses feng shui to guide its design and reminds me of some of the nondescript spas I came across during my travels to Asia. Offerings include bodywork utilizing traditional Chinese medicine techniques, and skincare products and treatments made with organic and herbal ingredients. My favorite facial is the anti-wrinkle facial, which uses a serum loaded with 21-amino acids and an active vegetable complex. It’s a relaxing respite and makes my skin feel softer.
Mama Spa’s prices are affordable compared to other spas in the city. Facials start at $70 and the spa offers deep discounts if you buy packages.
Where to Stay: