C&TH reviews Nimaya MindStation, a new London wellness clinic dedicated to alternative therapies
These days we’re spoilt for choice for places to exercise the body – but what about the mind? Of course, the two are inherently interlinked: the mental benefits of physical activity are widely proven. But we’re also seeing a rise in alternative therapies, specifically designed to help achieve a more balanced and positive state of mind. Wouldn’t it be good if there was somewhere which grouped them all together in one place?
Enter Nimaya MindStation, a wellbeing and therapy centre recently opened in Farringdon, which bills itself as London’s first gym for the mind. It’s the brainchild of former City lawyer Nima Zahed-Khorassani, who left his job to focus on what he’s most passionate about: helping people achieve long-term wellbeing. The centre offers 18 therapies, which range from more traditional methods – yoga, acupuncture, clinical psychology – to innovative, hi-tech therapies such as the PandoraStar, one of the most advanced light machines of its kind, designed to elevate you into a deep meditative state of relaxation. They also have a red light therapy bed, a cryotherapy chamber, a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, and two flotation tanks – all pioneering treatments in the world of alternative wellness.
The question is: what do they actually do? Intrigued to find out more, the C&TH team made a trip to Farringdon to try out some of the therapies on offer. Here’s our verdict…
Floatation therapy has been around for decades, although it’s come into sharper focus lately as a result of new evidence demonstrating its positive psychological effects – studies have shown it can be helpful for people suffering with anxiety, stress, muscle pain and depression. A typical session involves lying in a self-enclosed tub with water inside, heated to body temperature and saturated with Epsom Salts. It may sound like a glorified bath, but there’s actually something pretty clever going on here. This unique environment removes all sensory stimulation, making you feel completely weightless: many compare the experience to lying in the Dead Sea, some even suggesting it’s like returning to the womb.
After my first floating experience, I understand where they’re coming from. The first few minutes felt a bit strange – you’re lying naked in a giant pod after all – and I found myself worrying I’d fall asleep and sink (you won’t), but after a while I managed to settle into the experience. With no distractions, my mind drifted into a meditative state. By the time the music came back on to signal the time was nearly up, I couldn’t believe how quickly it had passed. I didn’t have any out-of-body experiences or creative epiphanies, but I did leave feeling significantly more relaxed. There aren’t many places where you can totally shut out the world for an hour – and we all need a break from life every once in a while. £55 per single session. nimaya.co.uk/flotation-tanks-london
Recommended for those who find meditation a challenge (as I do), PandoraStar works to ‘guide the brain into a hypnogogic state within minutes’. Settled into a comfortable lay-down chair and blanket – so cosy, this could almost have sent me into a transcendent state alone – with mediation music sounding softly through a pair of headphones, I was told to close my eyes whilst a light machine was placed before me. What I then encountered was what can only be described as a kaleidoscopic or psychedelic experience; a diverse range of colours and hallucinatory patterns swirling in front of my very (closed) eyes, almost as if I’d taken a rare hallucinogenic. This, in tandem with the spiritual music sent me into a meditative state of sorts, or at least into an intensely relaxed frame of mind, disconnected from daily life for a flying 20 minutes. In other words, it was pure bliss – once I got used to the variegated swirls of colour.
The therapy’s benefits are similar to those of meditation: mental clarity, increased brain function, intuition and inner peace. People have even said to have experienced transcendent episodes whilst undergoing the light therapy (seeing former loved ones, having visions). Although my experience wasn’t quite that intense, the deep feeling of tranquillity and meditative fulfilment I procured made the 20 minutes well worthwhile. £55 per single session. nimaya.co.uk/pandorastar/
Advanced Red Light Therapy Bed
The concept of the Advanced Red Light Therapy Bed is much like that of a sun bed – except that there is no extreme heat or danger of damage to the skin. But while it looks and feels much like a sun bed, this progressive full body treatment rather makes use of red and near-infrared light – renowned for their healing properties – as opposed to harmful UV rays.
The idea is simple: lie comfortably on the therapy bed, listen to some music and let the red light do the work for 20 minutes. The mind and body benefits are more complex, and for all the right reasons. There are over 15 wellbeing advantages to undergoing the Red Light Therapy Bed, from the reduction of stress and anxiety to the boosting of positive cognitive development and the body’s natural healing process, as well as reducing inflammation and aiding the healing of acne, injuries and scars. The treatment is even recommended to help treat a variety of brain disorders and progressive diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Dementia, even Parkinson’s and Global Ischemia. Relaxing and wholly beneficial, this treatment is most definitely worth a try. To be repeated weekly, tailored to your specific needs. £55 per single session. nimaya.co.uk/photobiomodulation-bed/
No longer the remit of elite athletes and models on Instagram, cryotherapy has entered the mainstream, its purported benefits ranging from weight loss to faster recovery post-exercise and a reduction in inflammation. The principle is simple enough: three minutes chilling in a futuristic ‘cryo chamber’ set to a bracing -85ºC. After putting on thick socks, earmuffs, a face mask and mittens, we climbed inside, to be immediately hit with a blast of frigid air. Unless you grew up spending Christmas holidays in Siberia, be prepared to feel colder than you have ever imagined possible – bouncing around, the natural human reaction to cold, is pretty much out of the question, as movement conjures up extra icy gusts. We were left gently bobbing along to Cardi B – you’re free to choose your own motivating tunes – as our encouraging therapist held up her fingers to indicate the time remaining. Though the cold was bearable at first, the end of the session came as a welcome relief, followed immediately by alertness and unexpected glee.
The initial adrenaline rush – like the sensation after splashing your face with cold water, on steroids – gave way to a mellow sense of calm that lasted until the day’s end. Refreshed and unfazed by the rush hour Tube or the gloom of mid-January London (which, after -85º, felt positively mild) I floated home, eschewing the laptop and sofa for an uncharacteristically productive evening. Who knew all it took was a couple of minutes shivering at subzero? £45 per single session. nimaya.co.uk/cryotherapy