Spa ritual: A salt-laced path on the way to achieving zen


You’re laying on a yoga mat in a dimly lit room. A low humming sound comes from the vent by the door. To your left is a hot cinnamon spice tea, and to your right is a yellow, earth-toned marble wall made of salt.

It’s not your average table salt, nor is it the fancy sea salt Gordon Ramsay and other expert chefs use.

It’s pink Himalayan salt and it covers the wall of a private salt cave at Zen Bar Healing.

Once used as a healing ritual in Europe dating back to the early 19th century, Zen Bar’s sodium-laced cave is meant to help those who suffer from respiratory ailments, stress and skin disorders.

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The Salt Cave at Zen Bar Healing, Cornwall road, Oakville.

“The salt cave has the same healing benefits in one hour that you would receive from sitting ocean-side for three days,” said Carrie Rowan, founder of Zen Bar Healing on Cornwall Road in Oakville.

Although there wasn’t sand around me, or the sound of waves, the ambient yoga music playing over the speakers was soothing and made the environment a bit more comfortable.

For someone who is always connected, having my phone in the room was the best part. You can also bring in your computer or books if you choose to do work instead of meditate.

Rowan said she has even had students book the salt cave for a study session with friends.

The room also has a generator that crushes tiny particles of Himalayan salt into dry aerosols that are pumped into the space during the hour of salt therapy.

I noticed a white dusty patch on the floor under the vent. Being curious, I ran my hand across the hardwood floor beside me, leaving a thin coating of salt residue on my fingertips.

The purpose of the salt wall and salt particles blowing through the air is to balance the ions within our bodies.

“Salt caves emit negative ions, which are therapeutic and healing to the body,” said Rowan. “Positive ions are created by anything electric, our computers or phones. So the negative ions contained in this specific salt restore the body to a natural balance by counteracting the positive ions.”

So whether you are working on your computer or need a place to meditate, the salt cave provides a space that can be rented out privately or with a group.

After putting my phone away for the second half of the hour, my body started to mold to the floor. I grabbed the black fleece blanket that was provided for me and slipped into relaxation.

After all, Zen Bar Healing is meant to be a vacation spot in Oakville’s own backyard. It’s a place to go away, pamper oneself and relax for an hour or two.

Although relaxation was the only thing on my mind, the salt caves are also said to help reduce respiratory ailments such as asthma, bronchitis, inflammation and common colds.

Sala Horowitz wrote in Alternative and Complimentary Therapies, “patients with respiratory disorders are recommended four sessions to check for beneficial treatment. The Halotherapy plan then entails 14 one-hour sessions over a two-month period.”

The air in the salt cave that Dr. Dorota Wronska, a laryngologist in Kielce, Poland recommends, is saturated with elements like iodine, magnesium, potassium, chloride, bromines, selenium and copper.

“The amount of minerals and trace elements occurring in salt caves together with adequate temperature and humidity is necessary for the correct operation of the upper and lower respiratory tract,” says Dr. Wronska.

“These procedures are appropriate for the recovery of an inflammation of the nasal cavities, throat and larynx.”

Within 20 minutes of sitting in the spa, I could breathe clearly through my nose, a feeling that’s foreign to me because I am often congested by allergies.

“You will experience healing after one session, especially if you suffer from any sort of bronchial upset or some sort of infection,” according to Rowan.

Nearing the end of my session, I noticed a small clock on the shelf and took advantage of my last 10 minutes in silence.

Even though it was 8 p.m. when I left, I was much more energized than when I arrived for the appointment.

After only one session, I would recommend the salt cave to students who feel stressed or have an interest in yoga and mediation.

The salt cave is also a perfect place to get away for an hour to rest in complete silence with no interruptions.

Zen Bar Healing customers can book one hour in the room privately for $36 or as a group of four for $120.