Peace, Love & Zen Holistic Wellness Center is a temple of calm in vibrant East Liberty. Army veteran and former flight attendant Susan Coe seeks to help clients achieve spiritual and physical health via natural means. And a major attraction is the Himalayan Salt Cave, designed by Dr. Margaret Smiechowski. Once only available in natural salt caves in Asia and Europe, the East Liberty simulated cave contains more than six tons of pink Himalayan salt. A “halogenerator” pulverizes salt and releases it into the cave in tiny particles. Up to 10 guests lounge on zero gravity chairs in the dim cave, listening to nature sounds and relaxing for 45 minutes. The salt contains 84 trace and macrominerals that are thought to be essential for good health. So, the treatment is both relaxing and therapeutic. The cave is available for private rental as well as general public sessions. Peace, Love & Zen also provides services ranging from acupuncture and reiki to psychic services to various massage treatments, including jade and amethyst beds, TheraTrance sleep massage and reflexology. They also have a full-spectrum sauna, acupuncture and non-surgical facial cupping face-lift.
For something completely different, try an isolation float tank at Levity in Squirrel Hill. The idea is to escape your routine and the stimuli of phones, people, televisions — in short, our constantly buzzing social media world. Opened by former school counselor Dave Rapach, Levity focuses on good vibes and relaxation. Guests enter one of two private rooms, take a soothing rain shower with hemp soap, and then get into a flotation tank measuring four feet by four feet by eight feet. It contains 10 inches of triple-filtered, body-temperature water, supersaturated with Epsom salts — a mix that’s three times saltier than the Dead Sea, and that makes sinking impossible. When you close the tank door, the music by a local artist plays and then softly fades, leaving you floating in a totally dark, soundless, enclosed womb. The first few minutes can be daunting, but soon the experience becomes amazing. It’s common to lose track of time and space, and since the water and air are the same temperature, it’s difficult to perceive that you are even in water. You feel more as if you’re floating in space. The sensory isolation clears the mind and creates a sense of calm and peace. Swedish psychologist Anette Kjellgren has researched flotation for decades and believes it provides numerous benefits including alleviating stress, ADHD, muscle pain and depression, as well as increasing energy, well-being and sleep quality. After an hour of floating, music returns you to reality and you exit the tank, take another shower, and face the world refreshed.
The Strip District is home to Cloud Cryotherapy, which provides whole-body cryotherapy, a non-invasive procedure that studies say can reduce pain and inflammation, increase focus, metabolism and mood, improve sleep quality and skin texture, and boost the immune system. Owner Tom Rodgers has created a space frequented by professional athletes, weekend warriors, people with joint pain and arthritis, and those wanting to improve their general sense of well-being. In this therapy, you wear socks, gloves, and undergarments (optional for women), and stand in a cryosauna that surrounds you from the neck down. Then, you’re exposed to liquid nitrogen that is –200 degrees for two to three minutes. Exposure to such extreme cold causes the body to protect itself for survival. Muscles around capillaries and veins tighten. Blood is forced to the body’s core to protect organs. By tricking the sympathetic nervous system, the cryotherapy releases endorphins, heals injured tissue, improves energy and increases blood flow. The body actually burns 500 – 800 calories during the session. Following the treatment, guests may warm up on an exercise bike or elliptical and have some hot tea to encourage blood back to their skin surface. This therapy is embraced by everyone from soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo to Daniel Craig (both of whom allegedly have their own cryosaunas) to the Welsh and Irish rugby teams. Cloud Cryotherapy has numerous scientific studies on its website that explain the research behind the therapy.
Finally, there is O2 Inc. on the North Shore, which offers an oxygenated whirlpool and massage therapy. President Richard Verrico, a massage therapist, collaborated with chemical engineer Charles Eckert, Ph.D., who developed the technology to supersaturate water with molecular oxygen, making it more than 600 percent more oxygen-concentrated than tap water. As clients relax in a body-temperature whirlpool for 30 – 45 minutes, their skin absorbs the microbubbles of oxygen and they breathe air with elevated oxygen. The result is a feeling of total relaxation with anticipated benefits including pain reduction, increased serotonin levels, improved focus, tissue healing, exfoliation, arthritis relief and euphoria. O2, Inc. is the only health spa of its kind, as the oxygenation technology is proprietary. This therapy is embraced by professional, college and high school athletes (their client list includes 15 current and former Pittsburgh Steelers, some of whom come in before and after games), as well as people with chronic pain or simply a desire to feel great. The whirlpool therapy can be combined with a therapeutic massage for ultimate results. The owners also produce oxygenated gels for people and pets. Verrico is seeking investors to produce and distribute this technology nationally.