In the wintertime, with limited serotonin-stimulating sunlight and less access to the myriad health benefits of outdoor exercise, it’s more important than ever to seek out indoor health and wellness opportunities to keep body and mind in shape. Luckily, Los Angeles is one of the world’s wellness capitals, rich in pioneers and practitioners of everything from yoga and meditation to cryotherapy and sound bathing. Read on to find out where you can trade wetness for wellness this winter.
Banya Russian steam baths are particularly welcome during winter, when this millennium-old tradition is super-warming as well as relaxing, detoxifying, and rejuvenating for the skin. Founded more than 70 years ago, City Spa & Health Center is a traditional, natural-rock banya enhanced with services like a 30-minute European body wash, and the ultra-invigorating “platza”– a historic Russian spa treatment in which a guest lies on the highest, hottest bench of the banya to have their body sweep and stimulated with a fragrant oak-leaf broom. The wellness journey at WeHo's "social spa day club" Voda Spa begins with the time-honored ritual of its 200-degree banya, followed by a cold plunge, revitalizing massage, facials, a soak in the jacuzzi, and then maybe a warming meal and cocktail at the on-site Russian restaurant - try the vareniki, a Russian-style pierogi with sautéed onions; or the hearty Voda borscht soup.
Cryotherapy is not the time-honored therapy of having a good cry, but rather a low-temperature treatment to reduce inflammation and associated pain developed by a Japanese rheumatologist in the 1970s that's been gaining global popularity ever since. While seeking out cold may seem counterintuitive in the winter months, patients report feeling rejuvenated and energized after a session - LeBron James, Usain Bolt and other world-class athletes use cryotherapy in their training regimen.
With locations in West Hollywood, Woodland Hills, and Marina del Rey, Cryohealthcare offers whole-body cryotherapy (essentially a modern take on the traditional ice bath) through exposure to temperatures as low as -256 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as local, cellulite, and “fat freezing” treatments. US Cryotherapy Studio City features the sub-zero temperatures of Cryoskin to destroy body fat plus targeted cryo facials to promote flawless skin and cellular regeneration. In Santa Monica, CryoZone performs expert whole-body and local cryotherapy as well as compression and light therapies.
Floatation tanks have been around since the 1950s but didn’t attract commercial interest until the ‘70s. They’ve been used by everyone from John Lennon and Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis to entire NFL teams and are today widely available to the public in Los Angeles. With five LA locations, Pause lets guests drift into a deep meditative state and enjoy weightlessness in 10 inches of body-temperature water, allowing for spinal decompression, improved circulation, the minimizing of pain, and the organic release of endorphins. In business for a quarter-century, Float Lab offers 2-hour private floats in isolation chambers for just $55 at its Westwood and Venice facilities, including your own shower, towels, and organic soap, shampoo, and conditioner. IntoMeSea in Santa Monica provides a broad range of water healing treatments, including its Floatation Meditation experience in Epsom salt-rich water, blissfully detached from the busy world without.
During winter’s shorter, more overcast days, light therapy – exposure to artificial light at controlled wavelengths – can be a welcome treatment for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders, skin conditions and more. With locations in Calabasas, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood, the highly-trained staff at Cienega Med Spa are known for their expertise in infrared therapy, particularly with the advanced whole-body light therapy of the innovative NovoThor therapy bed that was previously only available to pro athletes. At Array Skin Therapy in West Hollywood, light therapy is administered as a noninvasive, holistic treatment for common skin conditions including eczema, vitiligo, and psoriasis, while Quantum Rejuvenation on Pico Boulevard uses near-infrared (NIR) light therapy to improve cellular energy production, promote anti-aging and anti-inflammatory effects, and help with muscle repair and wound healing.
Reiki is a Japanese form of energy healing in which practitioners use literally hands-on palm healing to transfer energy to the patient. With ten LA locations, Aura Gods is a center of holistic healing, energy medicine, and a unique take on reiki that incorporates chakra tuning forks and elements of aromatherapy. Christina Galvez, PhD is an alternative healer and energy medicine practitioner in Mid-Wilshire who combines reiki and her innate shamanic instincts to alleviate mental distress, physical ailments, emotional pain, and trauma. Bliss Path Holistic is experienced West Hollywood spiritual bodyworker Jazmine Craig, who offers reiki alongside healing massage and empath energy coaching to promote inner peace and wellness. In Woodland Hills, The Healing Circle includes reiki amongst a plethora of healing and spiritual practices including readings and life coaching.
Social Wellness Clubs
Challenging and transcending the traditional gym experience, social wellness clubs are design-centric facilities where innovative health science meets coworking and socializing. The owners of the pioneering Gold’s Gym are continuing to push the fitness envelope with the members-only Heimat in Hollywood, where 75,000 square feet of diverse gym/spa/club facilities include pink Himalayan sea salt saunas, bootcamp and boxing classes, an immaculate coworking space, and a restaurant helmed by celeb chef Michael Mina. Remedy Place in West Hollywood claims to be the world’s first such club, where tech-remedies and holistic practitioners are augmented with a sleek nonalcoholic lounge with the goal of enhancing health through human connection. With locations in WeHo and Studio City, Artha offers small-class yoga, Pilates, and meditation plus sound bath, float tank, and hi-tech body shaping treatments in beautiful designer surrounds that are in themselves therapeutic.
The Soundbath Center
Condé Naste Traveler named sound baths – meditation classes wherein attendees “bathe” in the sounds of gongs and other instruments – as one of the biggest wellness trends of 2020 and they have since become features of many of America’s more comprehensive spas. But at The Soundbath Center in Eagle Rock, so-called sound meditation or sound healing is all they do, with 6-8 sound bath events weekly. Intimate and cozy, with only eight tickets available for each event, bathing in the mesmerizing tones emanating from the Center’s beautiful gong wall is the ultimate winter escape – from everything – without ever leaving LA.
Whatever your budget, schedule or desires, there’s a spa in LA that will help you beat the rainy-day blues. From a quick rejuvenating massage during your lunch break to comprehensive pampering experiences, here are three to consider. The high-end spa at Downtown LA’s The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles sets itself apart with unique packages like the 80-minute Champagne and Shimmer body treatment ($320), inspired by Hollywood’s Golden Era; or the 50-minute California Organic facial ($210), featuring all-organic products tailored to your needs. In Westlake, Wi Spa is a surprisingly affordable, four-story traditional Korean spa that’s open 24/7 for $60-and-up body scrubs or foot massages, facials from $100, and 55-minute shiatsu (acupressure massage) for $110. The aforementioned City Spa & Health Center in Mid-Wilshire is America’s only natural rock spa, where sauna temperatures as high as 180 degrees will warm even the bleakest winter mood.
UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center
Mindfulness meditation combines the practices of meditation and in-the-now mindfulness to release negativity and calm both mind and body. There’s nowhere better to explore what can be a transformative life habit than UCLA Health’s Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC), where drop-in sessions are free, even if you’re not a UCLA student. As well as its research and education for mental health professionals, MARC offers workshops and classes to the public on UCLA’s Westwood campus. With a focus on learning mindfulness meditation and then applying this to everyday life, MARC’s world-class team of clinicians take an approach that, while influenced by global faiths, is entirely secular.
Yoga is a traditional cornerstone of wellness, and its myriad physical, mental, and spiritual benefits can be enjoyed indoors, year-round. Los Angeles boasts not only countless yoga studios and classes but also some of the most unusual. On Melrose Avenue, Earth’s Power Yoga has created a singular immersive experience they dub “Yogascape,” in which light and images – sea, desert, universe and more – are projected on the walls of the studio, synced to music. Drawing on yoga, aerial arts, and Pilates, D&A Flying Yoga on Wilshire Boulevard incorporates soft ropes, silk cords, and hammocks for a complete body workout and stretch. In Los Feliz, Pür Joy Yoga offers unique 50- or 80-minute sessions that incorporate both discipline and play to heal the heart and spirit, slowly releasing the effects of trauma, social conditioning, and the grip of addictive patterns through joy and love.