Route 9W on the south side of Saugerties is probably the last place one would expect to discover the serenity and wonder of a cave, complete with crystalline walls. That’s the location for Salt and Soul, a salt therapy spa that opened earlier this year.
Of course, the cave, as owners Victoria Thompson and Darlene Colandrea refer to it, is man-made, and the crystals adorning the walls are made of pink Himalayan salt rocks which are meant to bring healing to those who visit.
The idea behind Salt and Soul’s creation came from Thompson’s own health concerns. After both she and her brother were diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at birth, her mother learned of the benefits of salt therapy. She took her two children to Florida to give it a try, and found it helped.
During a typical session, participants relax, sit back and breathe in the salt being diffused into the air by the halogenerator, a device that crushes salt and disperses it into the room. “The salt works its way into your sinuses and lungs, while also falling on your skin,” said Thompson. “Being that salt is antibacterial, antimicrobial and an anti-inflammatory in its natural state, it works to fight bacteria and infections.”
The facility offers numerous other alternative therapies. One is Reiki, which practitioner Beth Rennig says involves channeling healing energy by gently laying hands on or above targeted areas. Sound therapy using singing bowls, guided meditation, yoga, and other workshops are also offered.
Thompson says concerns over the future of healthcare have spurred an interest in alternative therapies. “Some are terrified by the threat of losing health insurance, some don’t have health insurance at all and others just need more satisfaction than traditional medicine is providing,” she said. “They are uncovering the desire to know they have tried everything within their reach.”
Some pursue these approaches to complement Western medicine. Reiki practitioner Rennig mentioned cancer patients using Reiki to address side effects of chemotherapy as well as the emotional and stressful side of illness.
Deborah Adams, who teaches yoga in the cave, says stress is another factor. “Chronic stress is one of the leading causes of disease today. It breaks us down physically, mentally and emotionally over time. Most of our habits that are detrimental to our health and well-being are coping mechanisms to the stress we deal with on a daily basis. Healing does not have to be a complicated process, healing can be as simple as closing your eyes, breathing and relaxing in a salt cave.”
Practitioners keep things light.
“Yoga can be very heavy and serious sometimes; I like to bring levity to the practice and my teachings,” said Adams.
Indeed, the levity and playfulness referred to by the practitioners is evident in the fact that Salt and Soul offers salt therapy sessions for children. During these sessions, children can play in the salt, scooping it in dump truck toys and buckets.
The flexibility and variety that shape the events at Salt and Soul will continue, according to Thompson. She says there have already been many changes in three months. “We are very open in the direction we go. Where there is a need for healing, we will shift and go that way. The saying ‘Go where you’re invited’ comes to mind.”