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Natural Awakenings Boston

DESTINATION BLISS: Raffa Yoga Active Relaxation Center

Jan 27, 2015 08:50PM ● By Nancy Somera

I was the lucky recipient on our staff this month to receive an invitation to experience Urban Sweat, at the Raffa Yoga Active Relaxation Center, in Cranston, Rhode Island. So on the coldest day of the year thus far, I made my way to the Ocean State, and while walking toward their entrance, passed over “Namaste” etched in the pavement, a reminder to leave the frosty air and any unwanted worries or concerns behind as I went through the door. After being greeted by the friendly front reception and taking a short moment to fill out some required paperwork, I was escorted to the locker room to secure my personal belonging in a locker and change into the Urban Sweat uniform: a comfortably oversized T-shirt and gym shorts.

Donned in my uniform, I entered Urban Sweat, a blissful area consisting of multiple treatment and therapeutic rooms. Upon entering, a hydration station of lemon and cucumber water was a reminder to drink up before heading into the Yellow Turmeric Room where I began the process of unwinding by lying on a mat in the heated room. Listening to calming music, I immediately felt all tension melt away and my brain ignoring the ever-present running to-do lists, while my body received the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antifungal and anticancer properties of the room’s active ingredient, curcumin.

After about 20 minutes, a therapist quietly entered the sauna to let me know that my hot stone massage appointment was about to begin. Settling onto the massage table, heated stones were placed between my toes and then my feet were wrapped in warm towels, signaling my brain and central nervous system to calm. Working up my body from there, the therapist glided various- sized hot oiled stones across my muscles, easing tension throughout my body. About midway, I entered a semistate of sleep; just as I would crossover into dreamland, the hot stones would pull me back to the room. I could have lied there all day, enjoying what at times felt like deliciously hot water caressing my limbs.

Ninety minutes later, I somewhat slept walked out of the treatment room and back into the center relaxation room to lie down on a heated water bed. After my senses recovered, I moved to an anti-gravity chair to sip on some fresh green juice and snack on some raw food made in the on-premise kitchen. Refueled and rehydrated, I went next to the Eucalyptus Steam Room to moisten my winter-dried nasal passages and skin. A cold rain shower is available in the adjacent Urban Hamman for those that opt for alternating hot/cold therapy. I chose to simply relax in the candlelit Hamman while my body tempature and pores returned to normal.

The Black Charcoal Sauna came next. The hot sauna dried my uniform which had become damp from the wet steam. I learned that as the body sweats in this room, the activated charcoal helps absorb any heavy metals, poisons and other chemicals that find their way into our bodies through the products we use, food we eat and water we drink. I was happy to lie there, letting my senses enjoy the difference between the wet and dry heat while the charcoal did its detoxification magic.

By now I’m sure I looked somewhat dazed as I wandered, rather than walked, into the Himalayan Salt Grotto, a room filled with 18,000 pounds of Himalayan rock salt imported from Pakistan. Lying directly on the salt, I felt a complete sense of balance between body and mind, and knew that I had achieved what owner Christine Raffa had designed for her clients when she brought Urban Sweat to the New England community years ago.

Afraid I wouldn’t be able to safely drive home if I stayed any longer, I ended my afternoon without visiting the Oceanic Relaxation Room which is filled with Dead Sea Salt, or the Infrared Sauna. But, I told myself, I needed something new to experience upon my return. Next time I’m planning a full day so I can enjoy all the studio has to offer, including yoga. Perhaps I’ll even make a weekend of it.

Getting there: Raffa Yoga Active Relaxation Center, 19 Sharpe Dr., Cranston, Rhode Island. Drive or take MBTA or Amtrak to Providence or T.F. Green Airport. Nearby lodging: NYLO (3 minutes or 1.37 miles from the studio), 400 Knight St., Warwick. 401-734-4460. Shuttle service to studio provided; Hotel Providence, (14 minutes from studio or 8.12 miles), 139 Mathewson St., Providence. 401-732-6667. For more information, call 401-463- 3335 or visit