Put away your cynicism. These natural healing therapies actually work
We won’t mince our words: it’s tough living in Singapore. Despite living on a tropical island with beaches and spas galore, we’re often time-crunched, overworked and frightfully anxious – a recipe for exhaustion and sickness. But if you’ve tried in vain to get your health back on track (yoga, detox retreats and organic food… you name it), perhaps it’s time to wade into the realm of natural healing practices. Skeptical? We explore the alternative therapies available in the city…
Therapy by floatation
Free your mind of life’s stresses and your body of gravity with a relaxing aquatic escape. At Palm Ave Float Club, you’ll float effortlessly on Epsom salt water in your own private pod. Without any distractions – light, sound or gravity – your body will enter a deep, meditative state and your worries will melt away. With regular floating sessions, expect quicker relief from stress, improved athletic performance, better mental clarity and muscle relaxation.
Palm Ave Float Club, Location in 20 Waringin Park and 66 Kampung Bugis.
Therapy by acupuncture
An ancient TCM (Traditional Chinese medicine) practice, acupuncture is believed to help ease pain and treat illnesses through restoring the flow of energy (also known as Qi) in one’s body. A standard treatment involves the patient lying relaxed while hair-thin needles are inserted into strategic points of the body. The benefits are numerous, including the release of endorphins (the happy hormone), immune cells to protect the body from diseases, as well as chemicals to regulate blood sugar levels. Terrified of needles? Not to worry – these needles are so thin that you’ll only feel a slight tingling sensation upon insertion. This treatment is available at major TCM practitioners, including the well-established Eu Yan Sang Clinic.
Eu Yan Sang Clinic, Various outlets, e. email@example.com.
Therapy by Onsen bath
At Yunomori Japanese Onsen & Spa (the only authentic one of its kind in Singapore), you’ll experience traditional bathing rituals designed to relax and rejuvenate. Ranging from the simple and traditional to modern and technology-fuelled, each bath is proven to be therapeutic with its own sets of benefits. Choose from a selection of aquatic therapies including The Soda Spa – enriched with carbon dioxide-rich water – which tightens skin elasticity for a youthful glow, tiny bubble-filled Jet Bath for rheumatic aches, and the relaxing Hot Bath for various ailments.
Yunomori Japanese Onsen & Spa, Singapore Sports Hub, 1 Stadium Place #02-17/18, Singapore 397718.
Therapy by Reiki
Made up of two Japanese words, Rei refers to “God’s wisdom or the higher power” while Ki is “life force energy”. Reiki spiritually heals by channelling energy through touch – the practitioner passes Reiki onto you by gently placing her hands on different areas of your body. You might feel a warm or tingling session during your treatment, but the effect post-session is a deep calmness. Know that Reiki has tonnes of detractors, so if you’re a natural sceptic, we wouldn’t be surprised if you’d take this with (more than) a pinch of salt.
Reiki Glow, One Heart, 37 Tembeling Road, Singapore 423580.
Therapy by Tai Chi
You’d be no stranger to Tai Chi if you live in Singapore – it’s a common sight to see the elderly practising this in parks and residential areas in the morning. Tai chi is a centuries-old Chinese martial art that’s rooted in Chinese medicine, and descended from qigong. Originally created for self-defence, it involves a series of slow, meditative body movements to induce calm and reduce stress.
Join in on one of the many Tai chi groups which practise at parks across Singapore, including Singapore Botanic Gardens, Bishan Ang Mo-Kio Park and Telok Blangah Hill Park.
Therapy by cupping
While this treatment has been around for centuries, it’s only recently become more widely practised. What happens is cups – made of glass or bamboo – are placed on the skin to create suction. Much like acupuncture, the cups’ placement on strategic Qi points helps to rebalance energy flow, but with the added deep-cleansing benefits of clearing congested blood from muscles and removal of toxins. After a number of treatments, one can expect better skin, digestion and better health overall. Suffice to say, this is not for anyone with haemophobia (the fear of blood) – expect to see blood in those cups, and we’re not talking little smidgens either. Like acupuncture, cupping is easily available at many TCM clinics including Xin Hua Therapy
Xin Hua Therapy, 1 Tanjong Pagar Plaza, Singapore 082001.
Therapy by hot stones
Rather heat things up? Try this natural treatment which involves the use of warmed stones placed directly on a person’s body; the stones typically rest on certain points of the body before the start of a massage. The heat from them penetrates deep body tissues, improving blood circulation and loosening tight muscles. Massage devotees have claimed that using stones prior to a rubdown proves far more effective than one without, since it relaxes muscles and allows therapists to better work your knots without deep, painful pressure. It’s especially claimed to work wonders on people with back aches and pains as well as arthritis. Head to Knead at Holland Village for affordable treatments or acclaimed St Gregory’s Spa for a swish sesh of hot stone healing.
Knead, 36A Lorong Mambong, Singapore 277693.
St Gregory’s Spa, Various outlets including Park Royal Pickering and Pan Pacific Orchard.
Therapy by Turkish Bath
Over at one of the island’s most luxurious spas is a replica of a Turkish hammam, the first of its kind in Singapore. Part of Moroccan culture, the hammam is traditionally for top-to-toe exfoliation and thorough cleansing. ESPA’s hammam ritual closely follows the grounding principles of the tradition. Located in an airy, spacious chamber with a grand domed ceiling, the spa features a full-sized scrub plinth, oversized rain showers and a steam room. Thanks to all that deep pore cleansing, you’ll emerge rosy and languorous with baby soft skin.
ESPA @ Resorts World Sentosa, 8 Sentosa Gateway, Singapore 098269, p. 6577 8888.
Therapy by Jamu
Originating from Indonesia, Jamu is famous for curing chronic pains, illnesses and sexual ailments. Made with all-natural herbal ingredients, Jamu’s a booming industry in its home country with generations of Indonesians swearing by its tonics, medicine, oils and treatments. For the grooming-savvy, the scrubs and body wraps are a must-try; at Sri Bayu Balinese Spa, start with Javanese Lulur scrub to leave skin smooth and supple, and follow up with the Signature Ginger Wrap or Seaweed Detox Wrap with Heat Blanket to detoxify and stimulate circulation.
Sri Bayu Balinese Spa, 959 Upper Serangoon Road, Singapore 534718.
Therapy by Lomi Lomi
Unlike most massages, this sacred Hawaiian massage is truly a full body rubdown – therapists at Luana Therapy use long, flowing movements from head to toe in a fluid, rhythmic and most sensual movement that honours the body. The focus here is on the energy flow; traditional Lomi Lomi treatments usually involve hula movements (coupled with steadied breathing patterns and humming) to assist the energy flow between the client and therapist. The ritual’s benefits aren’t just physical – the massage is believed to induce total mind-body relaxation.
Luana Therapy, Primz Bizhub,#09-16, 21 Woodlands Close, Singapore 737854.
Therapy by sound meditation
Tried yoga and meditation on your search for inner peace and clarity but but need something else to ground you? Don’t give up the hunt just yet ’cause we’re pretty sure you’ve never tried sound meditation! At The Singing Bowl Gallery, healing takes place primarily through the soothing sounds of singing bowls. Handcrafted by metal craftsmen in Nepal, the singing bowls create complex singing tones and natural harmonies to induce meditation for peace and relaxation. The effect is rapid – your tension, stress and pain will quickly melt away… but it doesn’t stop there. These guys are also masters of Pandorastar light therapy, which creates a kaleidoscope of colours and imagery with closed eyelids. Coupled with the meditative sounds from the singing bowls, you’re guaranteed to sink into deep relaxation, leading to reduced anxiety, better stress management and improved sleep.
The Singing Bowl Gallery, 33 Erskine Road 01-05, Singapore 069333.
Or, read about that time our editor was immersed in a crystal sound bath during a sanity-saving mini retreat in the city.
Therapy by Ayurveda
One of the world’s oldest healing practices views the human body as being controlled by three systems (also known as doshas). Illnesses occur when one of them is out of balance – that’s where Ayurveda comes in. Aside from rubdowns with herbs and oils, unconventional treatments include the Shirodhara, where medicated oil, buttermilk or milk is poured continuously over a patient’s head, helps cure insomnia and chronic headaches, as well as Navarakizhi which involves the application of boluses of cooked Navara rice on the body for skeletal and muscular health. Om Vedic Heritage Centre is a great place to start, as it specialises in Ayurveda treatments, yoga and nutrition workshops. We tried a martial arts inspired ayurvedic massage at Serena Spa at SingaporeMarriott Tang Plaza Hotel recently and loved it. Click here for the review!
Om Vedic Heritage Centre, 43 Tessensohn Road, Singapore 217661.
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