New York City is a metropolis known for it’s light-speed lifestyle and on-the-go residents, but these urban warriors also know how to relax. Manhattan has some terrific ways to relieve stress and with a full day, you can try a variety of them.
Start your day by going to the World Yoga Center in the Upper West Side. You’ll enter a large light filled room with shining hardwood floors. A calm and soothing atmosphere will envelope you as you enter.
The World Yoga Center features Anusara Yoga, which is an offshoot or type of Hatha Yoga. While there are different types of Hatha, Anusara celebrates all levels of students and encourages a tightly-knit community. More than an exercise system, it is a “celebration of the heart.”
With traditional poses like the cow, child’s pose, sun salutations, and plenty of downward dog, a beginner’s class is enough to stretch your body and mind without overtly taxing either. Not having done yoga in a number of years, I used blocks to assist with certain poses. As the class wound down, poses became more reflective, and I was led through meditation and restorative positions, giving my body a chance to dwell in near-silence.
If you’re new to yoga, don’t worry. True to the spirit of Anusara, classes are supportive, non-competitive, and small, with a nurturing and soothing atmosphere. Quiet music or chanting might be playing in the background as the instructor leads the class through different positions and breathing exercises. Beginner classes are offered, and yoga mats are available to rent.
If you have time between morning sun salutations and an afternoon spa appointment, head over to Sak’s Fifth Avenue. Sure, retail therapy helps some girls relax, but there’s a well kept secret on the 8th floor: Charbonnel et Walker, a premier chocolate boutique.
Walking around racks of gorgeous clothing, you see a bar come in to view, like an old-fashioned soda shop. As you sit, you’ll notice a small conveyor belt moving, showcasing enticing confections, chocolates, and more. Where better to relax before going onto an afternoon at the spa? Feel free to take one of the little plates off of it’s track- they’re there for that express purpose, or order something from the dessert-laden menu. The Chocolate Truffle Brownies are decadent!
After that indulgent stop-off, head back up-town to the Metamorphosis Spa for an afternoon appointment. The spa’s quiet atmosphere is immediately calming: the muted lights, small candles burning merrily and soft music help create a soothing environment.
Try the fifty-minute hot stone Swedish massage. Similar to a cozy cave, the massage room was lit entirely by candles. Muted shadows dance playfully on the dark walls. Amy, my massage therapist, was very professional and welcoming, putting me immediately at ease. She inquired beforehand if there were any areas of my body that needed particular attention: custom requests aren’t seen as burdens to this spa.
With my eyes closed, I was able to drift away on the music that was playing softly in the background. Amy’s movements had the perfect amount of pressure and while I could focus on the sensations of the massage itself, it was easy to forget that she was actually in the room- all of her movements around the massage table were inconspicuous.
What could be better after a massage than Metamorphosis’s signature facial? Ninety minutes of customized care for your particular skin type, it will rejuvenate and energized your winter-worn skin.
The facial begins with a massage, followed by hot steam and a cleansing blend of fragrant herbs and botanicals. Afterwards the lymphatic system within the face and neck are flushed. It feels very similar to a “normal” facial massage, but features more deliberate motions. This process helps the immune system by flushing and removing toxins that may build up within the glands.
While my face was being pampered, the rest of my body was as well: both my feet and hands were gently massaged by an assistant. The overall effect is one of complete relaxation. The facial wrapped up with a soft seaweed mask. I left Metamorphosis with a bright complexion, looking and feeling great.
If you have energy after such a relaxing and pleasure-filled day, go for an evening stroll around Rockefeller Center. A wonderful place to people watch, it’s home to one of New York’s most famous seasonal ice rinks. Don’t worry- it’s understandable if you don’t have the energy to skate yourself. Just grab a cup of cocoa or a bag of nuts from a street vendor and you have the perfect way to end your pampered day!
What & Where:
World Yoga Center (9265 West 72nd Street; 212-787-4908 )
Charbonnel Chocolate Café at Saks Fifth Avenue (611 Fifth Avenue, 8th Floor; 212-588 0546)
Metamorphosis Day Spa (127 East 56th Street, #5-between Park & Lex; 212-751-6051)