A Blissful Afternoon @ Urban Sweat/Raffa Yoga

A few weeks ago I had the pleasuring of spending an afternoon at Raffa Yoga.  Last minute, a friend invited me to join her for a yoga class and we decided to explore Urban Sweat as well. I've had my eye on Urban Sweat since it opened and was so happy to find the time to spend there. 

We arrived around 2pm with the plan to take a Forrest Yoga class at 4pm and a little Urban Sweat before and after. The parking lot was packed and I was a little worried that it would be too busy inside but when we walked through the doors, my fears dissipated. The place is just amazing. First of all, it's huge. There are so many things happening inside the building, yet it doesn't seem crowded. To the right of the door is the Juice Bar and Breathe Boutique, which sells yoga gear, clothes, and the like. The receptionist checked us in and gave us a tour of Urban Sweat, explaining each room in details and offered some suggestions for the order to visit each room based on our afternoon plans. We stored our stuff in the complimentary lockers, changed into the provided clothes, and excitedly went off to begin our "stay-cation". Even though it was just an afternoon, we were treating it like a mini-yoga and relaxation retreat.

The main area is called the Active Relaxation Center. It's a large space with two heated aqua lounges, and over two-dozen Sumo relaxation bags. If you were with a large group, it would be where you could meet up, grab a lemon or cucumber water, and take a break from the heated rooms. From there, the choice is yours. There is the Himalayan Salt Grotto, Yellow Turmeric Room, Eucalyptus Steam Room, Urban Hamman, Black Charcoal Sauna, and Infrared Sauna. 

Because we were taking a yoga class in the middle of our time at Urban Sweat, we opted to check out the dry saunas first and save the steam rooms for after class. First up-the Himalaya Salt Grotto.  According to Raffa's  website, "Himalayan salt is pure and found in the pristine mountains of the Himalayans. Crystallized more than 250 million years ago under high tectonic pressure, this rock is created free of toxins and pollutants to give the unique pink coloring. The salt is extracted manually so it stays in its natural state. It contains over 84 Trace minerals essential to the human body. The healing properties of Himalayan rock salt date back to 300 BC. It was recorded that it was used as a healing medicinal bath for muscular tension and bodily anxiety." The benefits are as follows, "Himalayan salt creates a negative ionization in the air, which counteracts electricity created by computers, cell phones and technology and other modern day devices. The salt clears the air and refreshes our energetic biorhythms creating a grounding tool for our body, mind and soul. Himalayan salt is though to improve respiratory systems and lung function of sinuses, improve drainage for allergies, provide essential minerals for skin conditions psoriasis and eczema,  decrease negative ionization of the lungs, balance optimum PH levels of alkalinity and acidity to brain cells, assist in normalization of blood pressure, reduce the effects of aging by maintaining health and hydration of the skin and organs, and assist with dissolving and eliminating sediments." 

What is super cool about this room is that you are actually laying on 18,000 pounds of salt. The temperature of this room is 90 degrees, which is actually quite comfortable. We spent the most amount of time in this room. When it was just the two of us in there, we were able to talk freely and when we were joined by other, we had the benefit of silent relaxation. I would say this one was my favorite-most comfortable temperature and most unique look and vibe. 

Next, we tried the Yellow Turmeric Room. This room is 160 degrees, so much much hotter. We spent less time in here but it was still great. The active ingredient in this room is curcumin, which is known to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antifungal, and anticancer activities. Spending time in this room will aid in liver detoxification and fat metabolism, increase metabolism for weight loss, relieve arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and it provides a natural anti-septic and skin cleaner, which reduces healing time for skin abrasions and acne. This room is smaller so it is probably best experienced alone or with a friend, it might feel awkward to be in there with a group of strangers. It was hot but we stayed in there for about 20 minutes. 

Before we knew it, it was time for our 4pm Forrest Yoga class. The class was great, the right level of challenge and our instructor, Christine Raffa, is the owner so she really knows her stuff. I felt like I was getting a personalized yoga and anatomy lesson during my workout! When it was over, we went right back to Urban Sweat to check out the steam rooms. Steam rooms date back thousands of years to the Ancient Greek and Roman era. They are effective in treating stress and mental disorders in addition to  relaxing muscles, eliminating lactic acid build up, easing muscle tension and pain, aiding in sleep and deep relaxation of the body and mind, aiding in the decrease of asthmatic conditions, removing mucus and toxins from the lungs, opening nasal pathways and dilating airways for deeper breathing, opening skin and pores flushing out dirt and toxins, hydrating skin and reducing signs of fine lines and wrinkles, and improving the immune system. Wow-lots of great benefits. We spent a bit of time in there and then decided to check out the Black Charcoal Room before we went home for the day. 

The Black Charcoal Sauna is 180 degrees and it's main ingredient is medicinal grade black charcoal. According to the website, "Activated charcoal can absorb thousands of times its own weight in heavy metals, poisons and other chemicals. As this absorption ability is one of the major benefits of activated charcoal, this substance is routinely used in hospitals for instances of poisoning and toxic overload". The benefits are as follows: black charcoal promotes deep release of connective tissue and muscles through profuse sweating. It is known for its ability to assist in the elimination of heavy metals and chemical toxicity, it increases metabolism and energy, aids the body of inflammation through increasing body temperature and elimination, relaxes muscle stiffness, soreness, and tension, and releases endorphins which improves mood and lowers stress levels. 

Woah-is this one hot!! We made it about 10 minutes, which were wonderful but I don't think this one is meant for prolonged hanging out. Again, this room is on the smaller side so it's fine for you and a small group but it might be uncomfortable with a group of people who don't know each other. 

Overall, the afternoon was divine. Both my friend and I have young kids, so a span of 4-5 hours filled with relaxation and adult conversation is terrific in itself. To be able to relax in such a cool and health-promoting environment was such a luxury. Now that I know more about what each room's benefits are, I am excited to return and tailor my time spent even more so to address my health needs. I could have spent days in that Himalayan Salt Grotto:) Also, the yoga classes at Raffa can't be beat. This is a place for true yogis and the workouts are intense. Next time I am going to try the anti-gravity yoga with another round of Urban Sweat! Oh, and they also have a variety of therapeutic offerings varying from massages, to facials, to nutrition packages too. 

Marisa Etting