What is the secret of physical and mental well-being? Since the beginning of time, people have been searching for the answer. Each country has its own traditions and is self-sufficient. In Finland, these include steaming saunas and ice baths; in Tibet, it is believed that sound vibrations heal and harmonize the body; and in the United States, floating in darkened, soundproof bowls to relax is experiencing a renaissance. This new year, try a new wellness ritual from around the world.
While floating in a pitch-black, soundproof, saltwater-filled bowl may seem frightening, this is one of the hottest wellness trends in the USA. Supporters say that the lack of stimuli creates a deep state of mental and physical relaxation that lasts long after you emerge from the tank.
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The ancient Amazon tribes used this psychedelic brew made from tea leaves for spiritual and religious purposes. Now, however, it has become popular worldwide as an alternative healing treatment to achieve a changed state of consciousness and heal past trauma, depression, cancer and more. During a retreat, a shaman prepares the drink and guides the participant through the ceremony, which can result in the body being purified in all forms, which is considered part of the purification process.
Hammam, or traditional Moroccan bathhouses, are not for the timid, as they are typically experienced naked and separated by gender. These public baths are places of conviviality, relaxation and squeaky cleanliness – they are scrubbed rigorously and stripped down to a new layer of skin with black soap and a glove.
Saunas and ice swimming
Finland is classified by the United Nations as the happiest country in the world for the second year in a row. Could one of their secrets to being so happy be in their national pastime of sweating out the blues in the sauna? Or maybe it’s the adrenaline rush of ice bathing, another popular activity of the Finns, which makes them jump for joy on a cold winter day.
Banyas and branch banging
Being voluntarily knocked down with a bundle of oak leaves may not sound very relaxing, but it is a traditional way of massage in Russian banyas or bath houses. Beating branches dipped in water is done in a sauna, and it is believed to improve blood circulation and prevent premature aging of the skin.
Yoga of laughter
Traditional yoga postures that involve headstands or backbends may be intimidating for some, but laughter yoga is something anyone can do. In 1995, Dr. Madan Kataria created this hilarious meditation practice in Mumbai, where you go crazy for no reason to lower stress hormone levels. Now it’s contagious, and laughter yoga clubs exist all over the world.
For centuries Buddhist monks have been using “singing bowls” for meditation and healing purposes. It is believed that the vibrations generated by these bowls balance, heal and rebalance parts of the mind and body that have been out of harmony, reducing stress, focusing the mind and even relieving pain.
Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing
Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing is the Japanese practice of immersing in nature through the five senses as a form of prevention and therapy. In fact, trees release organic compounds that support cancer-fighting cells by strengthening the immune system. A simple walk in the forest also lowers blood pressure and accelerates recovery after surgery or illness.
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