Looking Great

Just Breathe

For a stuffy nose – or simply to clear your mind – head to a meditative salt room

They’ve become some of the most Instagrammable meditation spaces on the planet, but they’re more than just pretty pink rooms. Himalayan salt caves, which are cropping up at spas and other areas throughout the country, aim to soothe, cleanse and heal in numerous ways.

Called halotherapy, spending time in a salt cave or room has been purported to alleviate a variety of upper-respiratory ailments and skin issues and promote relaxation.

Shannon Coppola was inspired to open Montauk Salt Cave, which now has three locations in New York, five years ago after taking her son to a salt therapy room in an attempt to soothe his asthma. When he began breathing better – and her eczema also cleared up – she was intrigued. “Living in an urban area, we were subject to a lot of air pollution,” she says. “The caves allow you to breathe more refined air and empty your mind at the same time.”

The process dates way back to the 11th century, when people would visit Eastern Europe’s natural salt caves to heal their ailments. Most of today’s salt caves are man-made and feature several tons of pink, crystal salt rock, reclining chairs and relaxing music. Participants sit quietly and breathe in the refined air for 30 to 45 minutes. During a session, a machine outside the room grinds dry salt and pumps micro particles into the air, which is kept at a low-humidity level.

Much like sea air, air in a salt cave acts as an expectorant, accelerating mucus clearance and improving lung function while killing harmful bacteria and soothing the respiratory system.

Unlike other meditative treatments, like yoga, you don’t need any special skills to participate. “Just be willing to clear your mind and let the salt do all of the work,” Coppola says.

Rx for Respiratory Issues

People who include dry salt therapy in their wellness routine may find relief from a variety of respiratory conditions such as:

Common cold
Cystic fibrosis
Ear infections
Smokers cough

Source: Salt Therapy Association

A Salty Sampling

Here are some notable salt caves around the country. To find one near you, visit www.salttherapyassociation.org

Asheville Salt Cave
Asheville, North Carolina’s only salt cave, this therapeutic cave offers public and private sessions, couples massages and special play sessions for children. www.ashvillesaltcave.com

Salt Cave Santa Barbara Spa & Yoga
The largest salt cave in North America, this center in California offers traditional salt therapy sessions, plus a variety of classes and spa treatments. One favorite: The invigorating Himalayan Salt Scrub promotes circulation and leaves your skin feeling rejuvenated. www.saltcavesb.com

The Salt Room Orlando
Relax in zero-gravity, NASA-inspired recliners with your feet elevated at your heart level for a 45-minute session. The center also offers salt therapy treatments that incorporate acupuncture and massage. www.saltroomorlando.com

Montauk Salt Cave
With three facilities in New York, the centers offer public and private salt cave sessions, plus a variety of other options, including sound healing experiences, Reiki and Yoga Nidra. www.montauksaltcave.com

© anna bortnikova; luminola