The spa experience has gained great popularity with many in our modern day society. Today’s spa experiences offer anything from therapeutic treatments to esthetic services. According to the book Understanding the Global Spa Industry: Spa Management, the spa industry is currently the fastest growing segment of the hospitality and leisure industry with revenues exceeding those from amusement parks, box office receipts, vacation ownership gross sales and ski resort ticket sales.

But why are so many getting so increasingly hooked on the spa experience?

Research from the 2011 Global Spa Report, found that 88% of guests who visit spas do so for relaxation and stress management. That is an astounding number and very justifiable as one can imagine given the unnaturally stress-filled modern lifestyles common in society today. However, almost half of all spa visits are simply done to improve one’s physical appearance, while more than half are done for maintenance purposes. I think all of those reasons merit a deeper personal assessment of our lifestyles, as well as our level of self-love and acceptance.

When it comes to me personally, I have to say that I am not a big spa fan and can count on my hand the number of spa visits I have had to date. I find too many focus on superficial fixes and use various synthetic and chemical based products that are far from ideal for one’s health and well-being. Many treatments are also too short-lived, failing to offer longer term benefits, while they come with high price tags.

In the spring of 2012, I had the chance to visit a different kind of spa – a bedrock spa, which offers rock bathing. I have never heard of such a treatment before, but after doing some reading about it and its health benefits, it sounded holistically sound and I decided to try it myself. In this article, I will share with you what rock bathing is, some of its health benefits, a review of my experience and interview with the vice president of the Iyashi Bedrock Spa. January 1, 2016 Update: Please note that this spa has since permantently closed in 2015.

A Closer Look At Rock Bathing

So what is rock bathing you may be wondering? Well, it is a little or a lot different compared to what you may be imagining. The original name for rock bathing is Ganban’yoku, and it comes from Japan as the term for a popular form of hot stone or bedrock spa. What it involves is laying down on a body-sized heated rock such as granite or black silica. The flat rock bed below you is heated, as well as the room you are in to appropriate temperatures for various holistic health benefits.

The Iyashi Bedrock Spa, where I had the chance to experience my first rock bathing session is located in Toronto, Canada and is the first Ganban’yoku of its kind in North America. The hot stone beds it uses are made of black silica stone, which is exclusively found in Hokkaido, Japan.

Many of us are probably somewhat familiar with the healing benefits of various hot treatments, however like myself, I suspect most of us are not familiar with the health benefits of black silica. According to Black Silica International, black silica is acclaimed for having many healing benefits such as being a natural remedy for injury treatment and a pain killer. What makes it even more unique is that black silica emanates far infrared rays and negative ions.

Negative ions are a type of antioxidant present in nature that is reported to react with and break down toxins in the bloodstream. Far infrared rays are absorbed by cells throughout the body and cause blood vessels to dilate. This helps to improve blood circulation, speed up the metabolism and help eliminate wastes from the body. The combination of negative ions and far infrared rays released in black silica is reported to:

  • benefit the skin
  • help with weight loss
  • alleviate back and shoulder pains
  • lower blood pressure
  • boost the immune system
  • help reduce the effects of pollen allergies, diabetes, constipation, menstrual disorders, rheumatism and arthritis

All of the above benefits of the rock, along with a heated environment, as is the case with rock bathing, offer even more health benefits that extend to our physical, mental and emotional health.

During my visit to the Iyashi Bedrock Spa, I also had the chance to meet with and interview vice-president Ryusuke Juge who was able to explain more to me about how the rock bathing treatment works and what one can expect at a typical rock bathing session.

Personal Rock Bathing Experience

Upon trying the rock bathing myself, I am happy to share that I enjoyed it very much. First and foremost, it is so relaxing! Secondly, I personally love hot environments, and I know there are many benefits for our bodies from them alone. So to have the benefits of the black silica stone was a huge bonus!

In the following video, I share with you more about the Iyashi Bedrock Spa, and clips of my personal experience. The rock bathing temperature was very comfortable I found, and provided for an excellent cleansing and detoxification environment. I personally do not suffer from any health condition which would allow me to notice immediate health benefits, so I cannot comment from this perspective. What I know is that it had a profound impact on my overall energy in providing a deep sense of relaxation and well-being. I love hot yoga for example, and it was nice to just lay in the heat, enjoying stillness and mediation without actually getting physically active.


Aside from the many health benefits and being so wonderfully relaxing, one of the main reasons why I would consider this treatment, or recommend it to others, is that it truly has our whole-being health in mind. More importantly it does not subject your body to any chemicals. All common spas use products with various synthetic and chemical ingredients that anyone interested in optimal health would not want to subject their body to. So before embarking on a spa experience, be sure to know what you are getting into and whether any words like “natural” or “holistic” are used appropriately. If you frequent a spa that uses any kind of products, I invite you to ask to see all of the ingredients and know what you are subjecting your body to, in order to be a conscious and informed consumer.