Yes, 2016 was a huge year for holistic health, with esoteric wellness practices gaining some major mainstream cred. But don’t think for a moment that woo-woo has peaked—not even close.
Just ask the founders of SereneBook, a new wellness booking and content platform that’s launching this month in New York City and Los Angeles. Using a ClassPass-style model, subscribers pay $150 a month in exchange for three appointments with holistic healers—from acupuncturists and massage therapists to nutritionists, yoga instructors, energy workers, and beyond.
The trio behind the start-up—Millana Snow, Jordan Daly, and Tegan Bukowski, who previously created wellness event collective Serene Social—have so far on-boarded 1,500 practitioners between both cities. That means they’ve tested out a lot of treatments over the past few years, and they insist most people have barely scratched the surface of the options available.
“We’re creating a way for people to start exploring holistic health without intimidation, by offering them all these curated modalities,” says Daly. She notes users will choose an intention, like relieving stress or preparing for pregnancy, and will receive a filtered list of therapists best suited for their goal.
“We want it to be like insurance—you subscribe to SereneBook and you have your tribe of holistic practitioners,” Daly says. (In fact, the founders are already in talks with major insurance providers about doing pilot programs.)
So what are some of the lesser-known wellness treatments the SereneBook founders are most excited about? Keep reading to discover the holistic therapies they say you’ve got to try this year.
As the shift towards sobriety continues to take hold in New York and Los Angeles social circles, Bukowski predicts breathwork will start to have a bigger presence on the party circuit. “When people go into breath workshops, they are really surprised at how powerful it is,” she says. “It can make you feel high or go into a crazy meditative place.”
She’s specifically referring to holotropic breathwork, a rapid breathing style that’s said to transport you into an altered state of consciousness. “It begins to activate your brain in ways that certain psychoactive drugs would,” Bukowski explains. “Essentially you get into a really deep and vivid meditation.”
She’s also expecting non-psychedelic forms of breathwork to gain ground, including the Wim Hof method (an energizing technique that’s said to boost immunity), and cathartic pranayama (yogic breathing) with therapists like Lisa de Narvaez in NYC and Ashley Neese in LA. “Just learning how to breathe properly is so valuable for relieving daily stresses,” Bukowski says. Meditation may have met its match.
Energy healing facials
When Snow is in need of some TLC, she books a treatment with NYC aestheticians Melanie Herring or Britta Plug, who approach their craft holistically. “They use the cleanest, most sacred ingredients they can source—like stuff that was blessed by a shaman or picked from an organic farm—and they typically do energy healing of some form, whether it’s reiki or craniosacral therapy,” she says.
“If you affect your energetic body as well as your physical body, there’s more rapid healing on every level.”
As a reiki practitioner herself, Snow is totally tuned into the way that energetic work amplifies the results of a facial. “If you affect your energetic body as well as your physical body, there’s more rapid healing on every level,” she says. “When Melanie did a facial on me for the first time, I shed tears. I came out of there feeling not just physically great, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually I felt [changed]. I was glowing in a different way.”
Think of this obscure modality, developed by a French osteopath, as a gentle massage for your insides. “In its simplest form, visceral manipulation is hands-on work dealing with the organs,” says Daly, whose therapists of choice are Ramesh Narine in New York and Jackie Leavitt in LA. “It’s a way to release tension that’s causing pain or dysfunction.”
Proponents of this therapy claim that energetic stagnation in the internal organs can be responsible for all sorts of ailments elsewhere in the body, from migraines and anxiety to chronic back pain. Sitting for long periods is said to contribute to these blockages, since the organs aren’t moving around naturally.
And although it sounds super unpleasant, Daly insists visceral manipulation actually quite soothing. “I would compare it to if you having a knot in your shoulder—if someone works on it, you feel like there’s been an immediate release, but sometimes it takes a few times to feel that it’s having an overall effect on the body.” Hey, any excuse to come back for an extra helping of self-care.