The five senses of wellness
Start the new year right by indulging in our pick of the most luxurious self-care for each of the senses
When it comes to self-care rituals, engaging mindfully in your five senses can bring calm and rest to your life – along with a slew of surprising wellness benefits. Ancient holistic therapies such as Ayurveda have focused on sensory wellness for centuries. Here we investigate what the future holds for our well-being through each sense.
Indulging in a sound bath will hugely benefit your health and mental wellbeing, according to The Sound Therapist, Farzana Ali. “Tapping into your senses is about giving time back to yourself in an easy and active way to self-soothe,” she says. “Sound therapy is a holistic treatment that uses sound, frequency and vibrations to decrease anxious feelings and increase feelings of rest, relaxation and clarity and even help lower your blood pressure.”
Ali uses instruments such as Himalayan singing bowls, drums, and gongs to lull her clients into a sleep-like meditative state. All you need to do is lie under a cosy blanket. “Unlike traditional meditation styles you don’t have to actively engage in any kind of activity to take yourself into that meditation. I am trying to get my clients into an altered state of consciousness. It’s a lovely, dreamy, trance-like state. People can expect to see rolling colours and incredible visual imagery to go with what they’re hearing.”
Want another antidote to the noise of modern life? Visit the recently opened Still Room as part of Studio Corkinho in Antwerp. It’s a tranquil minimalist space inspired by sacred monastic places and designed to give you somewhere you can escape to for peaceful contemplation by reducing external brain stimulation. The Still Room is housed inside an 18th-century listed maritime building in Antwerp’s historic harbour. The steps up to the Still Room on the second floor are set up to slow down steps, and visitors are asked to take off their shoes and leave all devices outside.
“We enter through a noren [Japanese curtain] and we take a moment of silence before I invite the guests to do an olfactive silent meditation to ‘land’ in the space,” says founder Cédric Etienne, who promises levels of focus will rise immediately. Most stay in the room for 90 minutes.
Expect a wave of modern beverages providing functional benefits in 2022. From Ayurveda to fermentation these ‘remedy’ drinks draw on cutting-edge science and bygone drink-making methods to offer you youth, relaxation and even sleep in a glass. Take UK start-up Jin Jin, a new cordial that uses traditional fermentation techniques from Japan to improve gut and mental health. “A healthy gut equals a healthy mind and body,” says founder Sohn Supradya Aursudkij.
Each small bottle contains 35 fermented fruits, vegetables and mushrooms and important enzymes such as ‘GABA’ and an important antioxidant ‘Superoxide Dismutase’ which helps slow down the ageing process and defends our bodies from disease. Jin Jin is a cordial, similar in consistency to honey and can be added to smoothies, or used as a mixer in cocktails. “It’s a magical drink that’s really good for you,” Aursudkij says.“Andsodelicious.”
Pointing to the future of savoury sips, Fungtn’s low-alcohol craft beer contains myco-adaptogens (medicinal mushrooms) that have been used for centuries for their restorative properties to the immune system. “We’ve created a mindful beer with amazing adaptogenic properties,” explains Zoey Henderson, the brand’s founder. “These combat the stresses of modern life.”
Or, for boozy Los Angeles cool, try Amass. The distilled spirits contain Californian wild botanicals such as reishi and lion’s mane mushrooms with rich undertones. Riverine is the latest spirit, a non-alcoholic option, distilled with 14 verdant botanicals.
Breathing deeply to feel rejuvenated will be easy this year. Nascent unisex fragrance brand Vyrao offers scents intended to boost the wearer’s energy through ‘high vibrations’. Its founder Yasmin Sewell worked with energist and healer Louise Mita on the fragrance formulations, which Vyrao positions as spiritual and restorative.
Meanwhile Trelonk Wellbeing is the new new generation of essential oil formulas by aromacologist Kim Lahiri. The oils combine science-led innovation and ancient botanical knowledge to focus on pain, the mind and sleep. “We are looking to nature to create solutions to modern day issues and have formulated plant- based products all centred around smell,” says Lahiri.
Art de Parfum’s eighth and latest fragrance Kimono Vert launches in mid-February 2022. The unisex scent comes from the “floral green” olfactory family and includes oils of cedar wood known for their soothing and anti-stress effects. The number 8 is symbolic of balance and harmony and in Japan it also symbolises prosperity and growth. “My new perfume was born as a direct result of the pandemic to find calm and stability in uncertain times with balancing effects for overall wellbeing,” says founder Ruta Degutyte.
It’s true massage therapy can have a profound effect on a person’s wellbeing. The Made for Life Organics mindfulness ritual, available in Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair, starts with a self- care meditation practice and uses botanical oils to clear the mind and soothe the soul. “Michelangelo said “to touch can be to give life” and in my opinion this is true. A mindful, caring and warm touch will release oxytocin in the body, boosting the immune system and lowering cortisol,” says founder Amanda Winwood.
The Gaia Affinity Experience, a bespoke foot ritual and full body massage, recently launched at the five-star Boringdon Hall Hotel in Devon. The treatment is divided into three categories: Nurture, Nourish and Thrive, each tailored to the individual - such as positioning, duration, pressure and direction of flow. “Most people could benefit from the physical and mental benefits of a spa experience. None need it more so than those experiencing emotional distress and physical discomfort,” says founder Diane Nettleton.
In China, menswear designer Xander Zhou creates fashion that wanders ‘on the boundary between science and Eastern philosophy’ adding a wellness aspect to the catwalk. Conceived during the pandemic, his recent collection features garments bejewelled with needles in patterns that reference acupuncture points from traditional Chinese medicine.
Most of us are glued to devices all day, every day. But Givaudan Active Beauty Synchronight is a new active cosmetic ingredient that acts as a shield against the aggravation of blue light – hurray! Created with gardenia fruit, it also encourages the skin’s melatonin to naturally regulate the sleep-wake cycle. “Creating a natural ingredient with the strength to fight the effects of digital stress and improve sleep quality is a turning point for innovation in the beauty space today,” says head of active beauty at Givaudan Laurent Bourdeau.
Mirror, mirror on the wall... another brand working to combat the skin’s response to ‘cultural stress’, is skincare’s best kept secret, Murad. The brand focuses on products and advice to prevent and combat the effects of stress on our appearance. Dermatologist, pharmacist and professor of medicine at California’s UCLA, Dr Howard Murad has accumulated over 50,000 clients with his unique, holistic approach to treating the skin.
Meanwhile the art world has captured a renewed momentum surrounding nature and spirituality as artists try to make sense of the current moment the world is experiencing. Taking cues from the late Agnes Pelton, the mystical painter and notable member of the Transcendental Painting Group of Santa Fe, artists are combining wellness, peace and art through their work – a retrospective of Pelton’s work was exhibited at the Whitney in 2020. This trend of nature and escapism will continue into 2022, with mindfulness-art projects like Sammy Lee’s Aviary, at Tate St Ives, available until early Jan.