A New Way
Recently I let stress take over.
We know that stress and anxiety creates a dark cloud which on some days, is near impossible to clear. The human body is not designed to manage extreme stress, whatever the situation. Luckily enough having a supportive partner, a stable home life and a good sense of humour helped me realise that it was just a period of stress that I could overcome.
Through the door, you’re greeted by reception. There’s a calming atmosphere and you know that you’re surrounded by well read, well travelled people, laughing and chatting. What’s evident is the true ‘classic country club’ feel. The Club believe in ‘mens sana in corpore sano’ – a healthy mind in a healthy body – and it’s obvious from the moment you walk through the door that wellness is a central focus of daily life for its members.
I made my way to the Wellness area to be hosted to the changing rooms. Towels, robes and flip flops are provided so I quickly changed and headed to the bathouse. I’d already researched and chosen my treatment but I still didn’t quite know what to expect. I’d gone for the ‘Kamchatka Sunrise Package’, (90 minutes £72), their signature package which combines a traditional parenia with a coffee and honey scrub, the combination of which promised to leave my skin glowing whilst bestowing an overall sense of calm. On further reading, I learned that a ‘parenia’ can be experienced there at three levels depending on your previous experience.
To begin the luxurious Russian take on the banya experience, I headed to the communal banya, a kind of sauna where you are expected to remain until your skin feels wet. After a quick break for water, I returned for another three minutes so that my body felt hot. After a total of ten minutes, I sat to enjoy tea to heat my body from the inside. It’s important to raise your body temperature before your parenia treatment.
Next, I got introduced to my banya therapist (banschik) who explained the next process. In a room filled with steam, he would raise the temperature to around 80 degrees and then use fragrant oak, birch and eucalyptus veniki (branches) to first brush over me and then build up to gentle ‘whipping’ so that the steam is pushed through the skin and saturated deep into the muscles. In my felt hat, I lay on the bed already feeling completely relaxed and pacified. The environment is completely controlled so at no point did I feel uneasy. The aromas helped to soothe and helped me to an almost meditative state.
Once I’d been ‘whipped’ front and back, my banschik guided me out and over to the shower where I pulled the lever and drenched myself in cold water. Next, I was led to a deep bath where I plunged myself into freezing cold water. Feeling invigorated and detoxified, my muscles felt instantly better, my body in repair. It helps with circulation and helps your body to ‘scan’ itself inside and rush blood to where it’s needed.
I was then taken to a cool water bath where I lay floating while the banschik held my head and gently turned me side to side so that my body moved carefully. This was relaxation on another level.
Once finished, I was taken to the Tea Library where I was wrapped in towels and blankets to ‘cocoon’ my body to restore heat. Enjoying a tea and falling asleep I waited to be collected for a massage. Within ten minutes I was escorted by a therapist to a warm room for a relaxing deep tissue massage treatment. Instantly I could feel tightness releasing (something that never normally happens) and my muscles loosening. For the first time in a long time I was able to move my head without much pain too.
Once finished, I returned to the Tea Library to enjoy the serenity and peace. I felt revitalised and calm, I used the time to arrange my thoughts and got rid of any negative feelings and unnecessary worries.
Feeling the most relaxed that I’d felt in many years I headed back to get changed. There’s an odd spirituality that comes from it that was never mentioned initially, I genuinely felt as though I was a new person.
South Kensington Club is my new go to place for a world-class fitness offering. There are a variety of other therapies available including blow drys for those who suffer from the humidity. A commitment to excellence is central to the overall offering, meaning that their expert team are qualified to the highest degree and between them hold a wealth of experience that enables them to provide the best possible level of care for the person.
Is there anything that you recommend to help with stress?