I popped into Hoame, Toronto’s newest meditation studio, in the middle of one of the busiest weeks. It was the day after the besthealthmag.ca site relaunch, I had been up since before 6 a.m. to publish a story as soon as an embargo lifted and I was just over two weeks away from running my first marathon. Plus, I have a busy toddler running around! To say I was stressed that day is an understatement. Nonetheless, I decided I had time for a 15-minute meditation, followed by 10 minutes in the salt cave – both of which were introductory experiences offered as part of the media preview.
There are two meditation rooms at Hoame. Classes in the Light room are designed to recharge and energize, while classes in the Dark room restore and relax. Not surprisingly given my stress level, my mind wandered throughout my meditation class in the Light room. This was in spite of our instructor’s soothing voice and the earthiness emitted from the room’s living wall of moss (terpenes have proven health benefits!). I did feel a little more carefree at the end of the session though – as in I cared less about rushing back to the office – so I decided to stick around and check out the studio’s salt cave.
The salt cave is a narrow room with dim lighting, a few beanbag chairs and blankets, and salt–a lot of salt. Inside I’m completed surrounded by more than six tonnes of Himalayan salt. The walls are covered in both rough salt rocks as well as pretty hand carved salt bricks and beneath my feet is a ground of pebble-like salt crystals. According to Hoame co-founders Stephanie Kersta and Carolyn Plater, salt caves like this are known as halotherapy, an ancient treatment from Europe shown to improve skin conditions like rosacea, psoriasis and acne, as well as respiratory conditions like asthma, coughs and cold. “At Hoame, we pair the salt cave experience with noise cancelling headphones that play three different stations of music, nature sounds, comfy beanbag chairs and warm blankets to further enhance the stress-reducing benefits,” says Plater. (This is what happens to your body when you actually relax.)
I have to admit; I emerge feeling considerably lighter and with less of that tight stressed feeling in my chest. Sure, it could have been the 10 minutes of tech-free solo time I enjoyed, but the salt certainly didn’t hurt. According to Plater, any amount of time in the salt cave is beneficial, “however, it has been shown that one hour is the equivalent to a week seaside in terms of overall benefits.” Research indicates that the atmosphere surrounding a high salt environment (like the Dead Sea, for example) is rich in minerals and has a higher oxygen level. As for the benefits of being seaside, studies have shown that water has a calming effect. A UK-based study called “Blue Gym” found that people who live near “blue space environments” (ie. water) are generally healthier and happier. I’m looking forward to returning for a full 60-minute session this winter in an effort to escape the cold and dreary weather.
A single session (60 minutes) in the salt cave costs $45 and meditation classes are $23 for 30 minutes and $28 for 60 minutes. Packages are also available for both meditation classes, the save cave, as well as the studio’s infrared sauna. hoame.ca