26 October, 2011

Breathing Easy at Inhalo

26 October, 2011
For as long as I can remember, salt has been pepper’s evil twin. Stinging in the sea and thirst-inducing on the tongue, western medicine blames salt for a range of ailments, from hypertension to excessive bloating. Even the Japanese have climbed on board with restaurants frequently offering “low sodium soy”. Yes, some practitioners will recommend bath salts for aching muscles, but it was not until I was invited to try out Inhalo that I learned that salt had finally taken its rightful place next to pepper (a supposed metabolism inducer) in the world of health!

In both the Himalayas and Eastern Europe local healers have long suggested that a trip to the local salt cave could cure what ails you. In particular, respiratory problems (like asthma) and chronic skin conditions like psoriasis. Modern holistic health enthusiasts have taken to replicating these caves around the world; from Scandinavia – there are more than 50 faux-caves in Finland – to Australia.

With Hong Kong’s air and water not being perhaps the CLEANEST (ok, down-right polluted at times), Caroline Goldsmith-Sharmir and her husband, Omir, decided to sprinkle Hong Kong with their own version of salt therapy, Inhalo.

I was invited to experience Inhalo and was told I could bring along five friends. As the spa is SO new and there are no pictures on the website I had no idea what exactly “salt therapy” with friends entailed, so I asked a handful of gals that I knew were pretty adventurous to join me to go caving. We all had slightly varying ideas of what it might entail, most of which included a sauna-like setting, lots of white terry towels and sweating. What we got was a completely different and luxurious treat!

In each of Inhalo’s treatment rooms, the ceiling, walls and floors are covered in salt. Not the kind that you tend to see on the dining room table, but a delicate and fine crystal that made it feel as though you were walking on a airy blanket of snowflakes. Our “chalet” was a Hong Kong winter wonderland. Mounds of glistening salt met our gaze everywhere we looked, and we were ushered into the space to relax in 6 white, puffy  loungers. Lest we grow bored with each other, (or of the salt) our cave also had a flat screen tv, a sound system, magazines galore, hard candies for salty tongues and unlike the foot massage place, no electronics were allowed into the room (bye bye Blackberry). Fully clothed, we all donned plastic booties (to keep the salt cleaner) and settled in for our treatment, unsure of what was to come!

Once Caroline checked that we had all we needed (did we? we didn’t know) she closed the door (we felt a bit as though she was closing the door on the Space Shuttle). Immediately, a generator began to blow tiny salt particles into the air and our treatment was underway. One after the other, the taste of salt began to land on our lips and the room grew a bit “hazy”.

With the rain pelting the streets of Soho outside, we were snuggled into a perfectly temperate salt cocoon, with the relaxing sounds of Enya urging us toward a zen-state. While none of us had coughs by which we could immediately measure the salts’ powers, we just relaxed and the 50 minutes passed quickly. We said goodbye to our booties and hello to our shoes,  wondering what we had just experienced other than an hour of good friend time.

The next day, each of my chalet mates reported in on how well she had slept that night, how wonderful her skin felt and how much she had enjoyed the experience. The only disappointment was that our cave time was too short (sadly you can only sit in such concentrated air for so long). While too much salt is still a no-no on my french fries and even my uber-healthy egg whites, I can now get my fix while doing something good for my body, with a dash of Inhalo. Take that pepper!

To learn more about Inhalo please visit www.inhalospa.com. Prices start at 350HKD for a trial and can also be bought as a package.

Inhalo Salt Therapy, W Place, 7/F, 52 Wyndham Street, Central, 3489 3144

Born in Miami, Tracie headed north for college and did not look back. After slogging it out for 16 years as a quintessential Type A, ENTJ, marathon-running Wall Streeter, Tracie finally took a long, deep breath. That gasp turned into the first of many Ohmmmms and eventually a yoga-license. During this quest, she visited nearly 40 countries; trying the best, the newest and the oddest paths to physical, mental and spiritual wellness. Finally illuminated (not yet enlightened) she realized that, despite all she had been told, New York was not the epicenter of the world. Now, Tracie is two months new to Hong Kong, and with Sassy is exploring the city inside the gym, in the great outdoors and on hilltops. In a journey to feed both her curiosity about the financial markets and her new-found realization that not EVERYONE owns a treadmill, Tracie will document her search for the key to balance in a fast-paced, diverse and fun city.

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