Being forced to switch off your phone and lie back while someone else does the hard work has always been one of the best ways to unwind.
But although Balinese and Ayurvedic massages continue to have their place, wellness facilities across the UAE are upping the ante with new ways to cope with the always-on lifestyle. Cue the rise of experience-led therapies and immersive treatments that calm the mind and cater to different senses.
“The urban lifestyle comes with the classical price tag of stress and other emotional imbalances that are also either precursors or results of poor lifestyle and habits,” says Shadi Enbashi, co-founder of the Life’n One wellness oasis in Jumeirah. “Just like pain that cannot be tolerated or ignored anymore forces a person to visit a healthcare facility, the realisation that there is more to life experience than the superficial and mundane does inspire curiosity to look inward and search for balance within and without.”
Bodywork treatments are among the fastest-growing treatments we offer, as they work on balancing the physical, emotional and mental aspects of the receiver while opening doors to exploring subtle layers within the body where trapped memories and blockages can be released.
Enbashi reports rising demand for holistic mind-body therapies that go beyond a simple massage. “Bodywork treatments are among the fastest-growing treatments we offer, as they work on balancing the physical, emotional and mental aspects of the receiver while opening doors to exploring subtle layers within the body where trapped memories and blockages can be released.”
An example is Anma Ampuku, an ancient Chinese treatment based on the philosophy of movement in nature and the power of grounding and balancing the energy expression in the body physically, mentally and emotionally.
Power of sound
Similar holistic results are achieved through sound therapy, says sound engineer and therapist Marko Zigon. The healing method uses tuning forks, singing bowls, gongs, and other tools to balance the flow of energy through each individual’s chakras and meridians. At the physical level, sound permeates the body to restore it to its default vibratory state or activate various biochemical processes, while at the mental level, sound can bring us to a state of presence and awareness, leading to a detachment from anxiety and stress and a more harmonious life.
Sound is more than we hear. We perceive the infrasonic as well as the ultrasonic aspect of it even without knowing it. The sensory experience of vibrations is gifted to us, the processing and interpretation of them, not always.
“Sound is more than we hear. We perceive the infrasonic as well as the ultrasonic aspect of it even without knowing it. The sensory experience of vibrations is gifted to us, the processing and interpretation of them, not always,” he says. The demand for sound meditation and private sessions is increasing, he explains, because living in busy urban environments means we’re always exposed to background noises such as traffic, the hum of appliances, and so on.
Sound is more than we hear. We perceive the infrasonic as well as the ultrasonic aspect of it even without knowing it.
“This white noise has caused a sense of global turmoil. According to some studies, 62 per cent of the world’s population is unaware that they are intoxicated by sound, and sound pollution will hence most likely be one of the future common missions towards global human well-being.”
At the Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai, sound and smell combine with movement and water in the Nomadic Sensory ritual, where Emirati drumming and Al Ayala dance moves are part of a healing process.
“The experience awakens all senses by incorporating the beats of the doumbek, or the goblet drum, as well as indigenous herbs and fresh ingredients from the land with the movements of the massage,” says Sara Codner — Director of Spa and Wellness at Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai. The two-hour treatment is one of a range of different packages designed to create mini-escapes.
“Nowadays, guests look for longer experiences rather than single treatments,” Codner says. “Going to the spa is a treat for all senses, from the arrival experience to the facilities, amenities and experiences offered.”
Dubaians’ embrace of the holistic lifestyle has sparked a rise in treatments catering to our obsession for clean living. You are what you put into — and onto — your body, the belief goes, which explains why the opening of an all-organic spa at Zabeel House by Jumeirah in The Greens. “With organic skincare the benefits of the natural non-toxic ingredients are absorbed into the body via the largest organ in the body — the skin,” says Sinead Bridget Scott, Manager at the Native Club Spa. She testifies to the growing demand for organic treatments in line with the rise of organic food.
Similarly, at THT in Dubai, heat, sound and smell all play their part in the salon’s paraffin and lava shell treatments. “Dubai is becoming more and more focused on healthy and clean living,” says salon Manager Lucinda Gill.