Like many people, I have spent most of the past year working from home. As a result, my mind and body have suffered from a lack of sufficient screen-free downtime. After months of work-life imbalance and excessive sitting, there came a time when I needed to truly reset.
As an advocate for preventive and alternative medicine, when I discovered the extent of holistic therapy available just around the corner, at Bodytree Studio, it was a no-brainer to take some time out to look after, well, me.
Abu Dhabi’s longest-running wellness space is unique in that it offers variety of alternative therapies under one roof, from energy healing to hybrid training. While these activities differ in many ways, the one mainstay is that each therapy complements the others. The body is interconnected, so it makes sense that no matter what aspect of our health we are trying to improve, it will have a ripple effect on the rest.
Over the past month, I explored the healing power of energies, tried a move-better class tailored to my needs and attended an eat-better workshop. Here’s how it all worked out.
Relaxing with reiki
The Japanese healing technique of reiki centres on the idea that energy can be transferred into a person’s body by a trained therapist simply hovering her hands over the chakra points or places of pain or injury, occasionally touching if required. According to a number of studies, the benefits of this practice are manifold, and include relief from pain, depression, anxiety and fatigue.
The session started with me lying down with a blanket draped over me, and a pillow thoughtfully placed below my neck and knees (immediate win). The practitioner, Heidi, has been a nurse for 30 years in the US and she radiates kindness, empathy and positive energy.
Jay Shetty, author of Think Like a Monk, posits that if you meditate on a place where you feel happy or relaxed, your breath and pulse shift, your energy changes and you draw that feeling into your reality. This is how Heidi commenced the session, by encouraging me to think of my favourite peaceful place.
I could feel the energy permeate through my skin and into my body. It encapsulated me like a fortifying force field. I was so relaxed I even managed a little nap. At the end, Heidi advised me to hydrate and take note of how I felt for the next few days. The immediate effects were extremely positive, and the feeling remained in the days that followed.
Learning how to move right
The second therapy I tried was a hybrid functional training and rehabilitation session with Belinda, an expert on the biomechanics of the body. She offered insight into its inner workings, placing a particular emphasis on the mind-muscle connection and how to move properly.
Belinda utilises methods such as myofascial release and active stretching. Not only does she help people heal with her move-right therapy, but also focuses on how to prevent injury. I felt safe in her presence as she used screening techniques to identify the ways in which my body was not moving correctly.
These are minor adjustments that will have a major impact on how I exercise moving forward. I am someone who cannot sit in the lotus pose, despite being a yoga teacher. Belinda found the source of tension in my hips and showed me how I can work to release it.
Finally, I had a consultation with clinical nutritionist and holistic health coach Suzan Terzian. A food-loving nutritional guru, she promotes a holistic approach to health with an emphasis on the power of one's own mindset.
During our session, Terzian displayed in-depth knowledge not only of food, but also about the mind-body connection right down to gut health. She equips her clients with tools to use food as fuel, and promotes mindful practices for both the body and mind to digest.
Terzian is equally passionate about prevention and cure. I used to consider myself a health-conscious person, but our consultation left me with much food for thought. As a vegetarian, I had convinced myself that I was looking after my body, my home base, but after our chat there were some hard truths I had to face.
I am now more aware of what my diet is lacking and which foods I am going to replace. I had allowed commercialism to insidiously creep into my diet, but it is back to the basics I now go. I am excited to put my newfound nutritional knowledge into practice and eat more of what is actually earth-grown.
The session left me with nutritional advice as well as tips on how to reduce waste. In future, I will no longer buy processed coconut milk, for instance; I will use the full-fat version from a tin and then create ice cubes with any leftovers.
Best of all, the therapies work cohesively so you’re able to change the way you eat, think and exercise. I am now more aware of how I feel, fuel and move, which will ultimately lead to a better mind-body connection.
Bodytree Studio in Abu Dhabi charges Dh350 for a 60-minute reiki session with Heidi; Dh385 for a 50-minute movement session with Belinda; and Dh525 for a 60-minute session with nutritionist Suzan Terzian