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DIVERSIONS: I Tried It

Fri, 07/05/2024 - 13:21
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What's an "inversion table"? What's the deal with that "sound bath" business? Carissa Katz, Jason Nower, and Christine Sampson tried out some trendy wellness treatments to give you, the reader, an honest opinion.

Inversion Table Therapy

What is it? Also referred to by the somewhat more scary-sounding phrase “spinal traction,” inversion table therapy hangs you upside-down on a strappy contraption that allows gravity to steer your body for a while. The Cleveland Clinic wrote in 2021 that research suggests this kind of service can help relieve lower-back pain, sciatica, and muscle spasms by taking pressure off the spine. According to the Cleveland Clinic, those who are pregnant, have high blood pressure, heart disease, acid reflux, or eye problems such as glaucoma should not partake.

I Tried It and Thought . . . that my head was going to explode. I went eagerly into the experience expecting a welcome reprieve from the stress and tension I constantly live with, thinking that my appreciation for roller coasters and Six Flags would make it easy. I was wrong. The blood rushed to my head and I had trouble breathing — roller coasters aside, my body had no idea how to handle itself. The kind employee at Feelin’ O2 Good, an otherwise wonderful health spa in Riverhead, strapped me into an upright platform, set a 10-minute timer, and gently turned the platform so that my head was at the bottom end of a 70-degree angle (my estimation). I made it through about seven minutes before I timidly called, “Excuse me? I’d like to stop now, please.” A more
athletic person might enjoy this, but I did not. — C.S.

Rating: 1/10, hard pass.

Where You Can Try It: Feelin’ O2 Good, 10 Flanders Road, Riverhead.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage

What Is It? Let’s start with what it isn’t: massage. Though it’s hand-to-body and often performed by a licensed massage therapist, manual lymphatic drainage is more about specific types of movements with only very light pressure. There’s a very gentle stretching motion, then light, circular movements working toward the body’s lymph nodes. The therapist’s hands serve as a pump of sorts, guiding the interstitial fluid beneath the skin toward the nodes, so that the kidneys can ultimately process it for excretion later as urine. It’s also known as the Vodder Method and can be helpful to cancer patients undergoing treatment.

I Tried It and Thought . . . it was very relaxing, very soothing. The therapist began by gently pressing and rubbing my collarbone area; we both took some deep breaths in and out. Then she cradled the sides of my head with light, undulating pressure, then moved down to my wrists, forearms, and upper arms and into the armpit areas. I expected that to be ticklish, but it wasn’t! The
therapist also applied this technique to my knees, one of which is still a bit funky from surgery six years ago. The effects weren’t instantly apparent, but that’s okay. They’re not supposed to be. The experience left me in a great mood, and thirsty, too, for water. I felt a bit lighter and more energetic, and judging by the next several hours’ bathroom activity, which I won’t detail here, I think the manual lymphatic drainage session had a very positive effect. — C.S.

Rating: 10/10, can’t wait ’til next time

Where You Can Try It: At home. Mobile MLD serves clients throughout the South Fork, also offering Swedish and deep tissue massage. The email address is [email protected].

Hot Yoga

What is it? Hot yoga originated in the 1970s with Bikram Choudhury, who developed Bikram Yoga, a style practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, with 40-percent humidity. Choudhury’s method was inspired by the heat and intensity of traditional yoga practices in India. Some say it’s practiced by “dedicated individuals committed to maintaining peak physical condition and inner peace.” This surprised me, as I always thought it was done by people who look good in anything and make you wonder, “Why do they need to work out?”

I Tried It and Thought . . . it was great. As a bald, bearded guy with a prominent brow that makes it look like I’m forever scowling, I’ve always thought it would be funny to see myself in a heated room, bending in ways that can both intrigue and horrify a casual onlooker — and indeed it was. I laughed, I cried, and enough sweat came out of me that I feared a zoning board of appeals meeting was going to have to be convened to deal with excess wastewater. The facility is awesome, the teacher was welcoming, and the class was a perfect blend of challenging and invigorating. I guess a good attitude is a must in this line of work, as suffering is part and parcel of the trade. — J.N.

Rating: 10/10, I will return

Where You Can Try It: I tried it out at Fierce Grace at 3 Railroad Ave., East Hampton. (There’s also Hamptons Hot Yoga on Job’s Lane in Southampton and Main Street, Bridgehampton.)

Sound Bath

What is it? There’s no water involved in a sound bath. Instead it’s the sound that washes over you, immersing you so completely that it’s hard to hold on to just about any other thought. For this meditative therapy, a practitioner might use crystal or Tibetan singing bowls and other instruments to create resonant “healing sounds” meant to “improve our multidimensional well-being,” according to the Sound Healing Academy, a United Kingdom-based institute. One study, published in the Journal of Evidence Based Complementary Medicine, suggested that sound bathing “may be a feasible low-cost low technology intervention for reducing feelings of tension, anxiety, and depression, and increasing spiritual well-being.”

I Tried It and Thought . . . when can I do this again?! For my sound-bath session, the practitioner had an array of large crystal singing bowls set up in a soothing room where we could lie back on yoga mats, tune out visual distractions with eye pillows, and give ourselves over to the sound. She had us take a few deep breaths before she began to play the bowls. Soon, the sound took over completely. I could hear it and feel it, like a vibrational massage for the mind (and maybe the spirit, too), and I sort of never wanted it to end. I think I fell asleep for a few minutes; I’m sure I stopped clenching my jaw for a while. Sometimes you need the right kind of noise from outside to quiet the inner noise. Skeptical about the healing power of sound? Think about how relaxing it is to get away from the din of traffic and be in a place where you can hear the birds singing or the waves crashing, or about that change that can come over you when you listen to live music. Maybe there’s something to this. — C.K.

Rating: 10/10, count me in.

Where You Can Try It: Adriana Barone, private sessions on North Haven, adrianabarone.com; and Sound and Silence, outdoors at LongHouse Reserve, Hand’s Creek Road, East Hampton, July 13, Aug. 10, Aug. 24, Sept. 7, and Oct. 5.


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