Despite working in wellness and preventative health where I’m regularly exposed to an array of alternative medicines, I can oftentimes find myself a skeptic of these practices. Don’t get me wrong--I can be skeptical of many modern medicines, too, like back when my lactose intolerance was diagnosed as “strep throat” for a over a year by my doctor (side-eyeing you so hard, ENT).
I’ve learned to be open-minded but no matter how many logical explanations or testimonials I hear about any wellness practice, in the end, it’s first-hand experience that matters most.
Now I find myself with a first-hand experience of a form of alternative medicine, reflexology, and I am honestly having trouble pinpointing what my experience was.
Going into my session at Euphoria Spa, a hidden little getaway in Tribeca, I was admittedly skeptical. I knew almost nothing about reflexology other than seeing foot diagrams, video displays, and neon signs all over the store fronts in my neighborhood.
Here’s the definition that my reflexologist gave me:
Reflexology is a treatment that is done on the feet and hands by pressing and rubbing the reflex points to illicit a relaxation response and allow the body to attain homeostasis and balance.
“But how?” asked my skepticism.
Reflexology will boost immunity, regulate hormones, reduce stress, balance metabolism, release toxins and improve circulation for an energetic, overall healthy glow.
“But HOW?” shouted my brain.
Although still a skeptic, I was starting to feel nurtured within the cozy confines of Euphoria, sipping my green kombucha next to a salt crystal lamp while soothing soundscapes played in the background. I thought, at the very least, this reflexology session would recirculate some blood into my poor mangled former-ballerina feet.
The treatment I signed up for was a brand new facial reflexology experience being offered at Euphoria Spa and I would be one of the very first people to try it out.
This treatment combined an Ayurvedic form of reflexology with simultaneous facial reflexology. By incorporating elements of padabhyanga (Ayurvedic foot massage), Ayurvedic reflexology activates marma points, which have several functions each, such as reducing stress, releasing endorphins, activating the lymphatic system, and balancing hormones.
I was delighted to lie down on a heated bed and let two women go to work on my extremities. I felt like Cleopatra or Giselle as my reflexologist, Lynn Levy, started on my arms and hands while an esthetician mixed parts of a traditional facial with what felt like like a deep tissue face massage, if that were a thing.
Here I was, trying to ask questions about my Qi and possible hormonal unbalance while my friend snapped photos from above and two women went to work on my nerve endings. I started to feel a bit overwhelmed by the time I was having my third eye rubbed out, fearing that all that pressure on my pituitary gland might induce an adult-onset growth spurt.
When I walked out of the treatment, I felt thoroughly unwound--an extremely foreign feeling for someone who is constantly thinking/stressed/working/going. I told Lynn I felt nauseous, like I just had a full body massage. She told me it was normal, gave me some water, and showed me how to massage my hand to counteract the nausea.
That night, I went to bed with sore muscles and fell into a deep sleep. My mother told me that the one time she had had reflexology, she dreamt of black sludge and smoke seeping out of every pore in her body, cleansing her. That night, I dreamt I went to the rodeo in Mumbai and became best friends with Ann Coulter, so pretty much the same thing, right?
I later learned that reduction of cortisol, a stress hormone in the body, can result in nausea, muscle pain, and fatigue. I felt as if I had been riding high on adrenalin and cortisol for weeks and this was my decompression. Between de-stressing and sleeping in while making friends with imaginary enemies, I already felt pretty accomplished.
I woke up feeling hungover despite my teetotaling status and had dull menstrual-like cramps throughout the day. Additionally, I completely lost my appetite for the next few days--odd for a snackface like me. Perhaps I was no longer a hormonal mess that needed dark chocolate squares littered throughout my day.
I felt more relaxed and at ease with the stressful events in my life. When I saw my friend Natalia a week after my treatment, she noted that she was happy to talk to the zen'd out version of me instead of the crazy bundle of stress that had greeted her upon her homecoming.
The experience and the aftereffects of my reflexology were relaxing and overwhelming at the same time. I feel like I really got a big bang for my buck, in the form of a giant chillaxitive. My skin seems clearer--my forehead bumpies numbers are dwindling--and I feel more happy and calm on the daily.
I am no longer a skeptic of reflexology; it definitely does something to me, whether it was balancing my hormones or just chilling me the heck out. Reflexology sent me down the rabbit hole, and now that I’ve come up for air with some of my old serenity back, I can’t wait to try it again.