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Natural Awakenings Boston

Active Relaxation to Reduce Stress This Year

Dec 23, 2014 11:59AM ● By Laura Clarizio

For many people, January signifies change. It’s the time when New Year’s resolutions kick into high gear, whether to get fit, get happy or just get moving with plans and goals. The common denominator in many resolutions is a desire to reduce stress, which, as numerous studies have shown, contributes to a host of ailments.

Active relaxation is an effective way to reduce stress. The practice dates back thousands of years all around the world. In Finland, people use the sauna to relax, while Russians have the bayna and Native Americans have sweat lodges. Mexicans use the temasle, Japanese visit the black sauna, and people in Turkey make use of the hamman. All of these traditional rooms are designed to help people relax and heal.

“I’ve had the great fortune to travel worldwide and experience firsthand the healing benefits of relaxation and detoxification,” says Christine Raffa, owner of Raffa Yoga and Urban Sweat, in Cranston, Rhode Island. “Many recorded cultures have documented rituals and gathering places for social interaction that involve relaxation and ways to detoxify and cleanse the body.”

​Raffa says that the various healing rooms serve a unique purpose. For instance, a room filled with Himalayan rock salt can reawaken energy in a person’s body by releasing negative ionization. The salt gets its pink color from being deeply encased in the Earth, where it is not exposed to environmental factors or climate change. “This salt is said to be up to 250,000 years old, based on where it is mined in Pakistan,” Raffa notes. “Proper salt levels help to stabilize metabolism, bodily functions and blood pressure.”

Another great detoxifier is charcoal, commonly used in medical settings to treat accidental poisonings and drug overdoses. Raffa says that the substance can be useful for everyone in specialized saunas. “A Black Charcoal Sauna heated to 160 degrees pulls heavy metals from muscles and provides deep therapeutic release,” she says. “It also awakens your cardiovascular system and sense of well-being.”

While turmeric is best known for adding flavor to food, Raffa says that this Asian spice is known for it’s antiinflammatory properties and health benefits. “A yellow tumeric room heated at one hundred and forty degrees is believed to help increase metabolism and circulation and lower blood pressure. It can also provide excellent penetration to soothe achy muscles and fatigue.”

During cold winter months, many feel the effects of colds, sinus and respiratory issues. One natural cure is eucalyptus, and a heated steam room infused with this oil can literally breathe new life into a person. “When you reemerge from a eucalyptus steam room, your body is deeply moisturized and your lungs are revitalized and refreshed,” says Raffa. “Alternatively, a visit to the hamman warms the core.”

Raffa Yoga also features an Oceanic Relaxation room filled with salt from the Dead Sea, long known for its ability to detoxify the body. “The high magnesium level is healthy for proper nutrient absorption in the small intestines and a shining glow on the skin from detoxification and exfoliation,” Raffa says. “The dead sea salt can also therapeutically calm the nervous system.”

Heated healing rooms can help people practice the art of active relaxation. Achieving a state of rest, experts say, is a great way to begin making good on all of those New Year’s resolutions.

Laura Clarizio is a broadcast journalist and children’s book author of the series If I Had A Magic Carpet.

Raffa Yoga is located at 19 Sharpe Dr., in Cranston, RI. For more information, call 401-463-3335 or visit

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