The spa experience has become quite popular as a way to destress in our modern-day society. Today’s spa experiences offer everything 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.
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 given the unnaturally stress-filled modern lifestyles. However, almost half of all spa visits are done to improve one’s physical appearance, while more than half are done for maintenance purposes. It is always great to know that people are utilizing health treatments to promote better wellbeing. Still, it is unfortunate how many treatments that target our physical appearance stem from nothing more than a lack of self-love and acceptance we have for ourselves, which is fueled today mostly by all kinds of marketing campaigns and media, especially social media.
It is also essential to keep in mind that unless one visits a spa that operates on using natural and non-toxic products, most spas are full of dangerous personal care products. So you may be going in to improve one part of your health, while you are harming another part of your health. It is also helpful to keep in mind that many treatments are too short-lived and fail to offer any long-term benefits, while they come with high price tags. Sure, you feel great during the treatment, but commonly, you are not able to make that spa-feeling last beyond it.
It is, therefore, important to pick wisely any spa treatments you choose. Consider how the procedure will impact your immediate health and wellbeing and whether the benefits outweigh the costs. Seek therapeutic and non-superficial treatments, like massage therapy, as much as possible, as these work to directly alleviate stress from your body. An example of a good therapeutic spa treatment that many people in the Western world are not familiar with is rock bathing.
What is Rock Bathing?
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. It involves laying down on a body-sized heated rock, such as granite or black Silica. Both the flat rock bed below you and the room you are in are heated to specific temperatures for various health benefits. A small number of bedrock spas have opened throughout North America during the last two decades, and some use stone beds made of black silica stone, which is exclusively found in Hokkaido, Japan.
According to Core Balance, black Silica has unique health benefits that include high-level far-infrared radiation with effects that warm the body to the core using negative ions that provide healing effects and improved immunity. The stone is also energizing and antimicrobial. 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 also reported to benefit the skin, help with weight loss through the removal of toxins, alleviate back pain, improve blood pressure and help reduce the effects of 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.
In 2012, I had the chance to visit the Iyashi Bedrock Spa, which operated until 2015 in Toronto, Canada. During my visit, I had the opportunity to meet and speak with its vice-president, Ryusuke Juge, who shared some interesting information about how the rock bathing treatment works and what one can expect at a typical rock bathing session. You can experience this dialogue in the following video.
My Personal Rock Bathing Experience
Given that I enjoy hot yoga, I felt very drawn to try the hot rock bathing experience. Unlike hot yoga, where one does a lot of strenuous activity, this hot experience is completely relaxing. It can be considered like one long meditative Savasana session. There is nothing to do but lay there with the eyes closed peacefully, while the stone below you heats your body to the core. The rock bathing temperature was very comfortable, not overwhelming, and provided for an excellent cleansing and detoxification environment. I found the entire experience to be very enjoyable; it was nice to just lay in the heat, enjoying stillness and mediation, without actually getting physically active.
In the video below, I share with you more about my experience of rock bathing at Iyashi Bedrock Spa and clips of my personal experience.
In addition to the health benefits of black Silica, I recommend this as a great spa experience if you have the chance to do it and enjoy the heat, as it is very holistic in nature. You get physical, mental, and emotional benefits that calm the body and mind. You also do not subject your skin and body to any chemical substances that are common in most spas.
Ultimately, whatever spa treatments you choose to improve your wellbeing, may they be ones that genuinely treat you and enhance your overall health. Often, the hardest part is just taking the time out to take proper care of ourselves amid our full and rushed lifestyles. So be sure to make time for yourself and say “yes” to making your wellbeing a priority. Also, don’t wait for such rare times as spa treatments to take proper care of yourself, either. Remember, what you eat and drink daily and how much you exercise and sleep are the most influential dictators of your state of health, healing, and prevention.