You might be trying to cut back on sodium-laced snack foods like pita chips and guacamole, but here’s one thing you may want to consider adding some salt to: your yoga practice.
What is this “chamber,” exactly? As the name suggests, it’s essentially a room filled with salt—with a Himalayan salt-covered floor and walls, and a halogenerator that spews out tiny salt particles into the air.
Breathe Easy took up residency inside Oasis Day Spa in June 2014 after founders Gary and Ellen Patrick took a trip to Europe, where dry salt therapy is a (historically popular) spa practice said to relieve respiratory and skin ailments—like asthma and eczema—by capitalizing on the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of salt (small studies have shown benefits but research so far is limited).
Here on Park Avenue, people generally sit still in the room for a dose of dry salt therapy, but since Patrick has been a yoga teacher for the past 35 years, the idea to pair yoga with dry salt therapy came pretty naturally.
“Most people don’t know how to breathe efficiently and effectively,” Patrick says, the creator of the aptly named Salty Yoga. “It’s meant to help people breathe better by bringing an awareness to the breath, paired with the full benefits of salt therapy.”
Classes ($25) are capped at six people. And despite the six inches of salt crystals on the floor, Patrick promises that it’s a surprisingly steady foundation. Since the focus is on breathing, the 50-minute class is more of a slow flow, so you’re not going to raise your heart rate or get super sweaty—most of the poses aim to “open your chest and stretch the muscles between your ribs while strengthening the diaphragm.”
While there are four Breathe Easy locations in New York State, Salty Yoga is currently only offered at the Park Avenue location, though it will launch in Westchester soon, says Patrick.
As for what to expect, I tried halotherapy at Breathe Easy before the yoga sessions launched, and when I showed up to sit in a lounge chair in the chamber, I was surprised to find you wear your normal clothes and only have to take off your shoes.
The salt on the floor didn’t stick to my socks, although when I picked up the salt lamps (for a photo, of course), it got all over my hands (like eating a pretzel?). When the halogenerator started, it had no scent, but after a few minutes I could taste the salt in the air. Not going to lie, I was into that.
After, I definitely felt more relaxed—although I couldn’t tell if that was from sitting still in a quiet, dark room or from the effects of the salt—and while I didn’t notice a huge difference in my breathing afterwards, Patrick says multiple sessions can help clear out your lungs, especially when combined with the deep breathing required in a yoga class.
According to European spa lore, that could help alleviate seasonal allergies or boost sports endurance, two benefits that pretty sound appealing. If not, I can definitely at least confirm that your pet will want to lick you, a lot, afterward. —Jamie McKillop
$25, Breathe Easy, 1 Park Ave., between 32nd and 33rd St., Kips Bay, New York, NY, 10016, (212) 725-1138, www.breatheeasyusa.com
(Photo: Mind Body Go)