Getting a quick shoulder or foot massage may well be Hong Kong’s favourite pastime, what with the city’s high-strung work hard, play hard mentality. But with a plethora of quirky new ways to find your centre in the whirlwind of living in the SAR, you’ll want to find your catharsis by giving these alternative ways to unwind a spin.
Take a gong bath
You may have heard of, or even tried a gong bath — where participants are bathed in soothing sounds created by gongs, or sometimes even singing bowls, played by a trained practitioner-musician. The vibrations made by therapeutic gong sounds are said to bring about healing down to the cellular level. At Red Doors Studio, a venue in Wong Chuk Hang dedicated to helping its clients heal from the rush and exhaustion of contemporary urban living, gong baths are their signature hit, on top of also offering meditation classes, Kundalini yoga, gong training, African dance, and more. Those who have done gong healing claim deep relaxation, as well as liberation from emotional stress. For a deep dive into the benefits of sound bath healing, check out Red Doors’ Gong Puja — or all-night marathon — taking place 30 September at night and ending the morning of 1 October.
Red Doors Studio, Flat A, Floor 21, Lee Fund Centre, 31 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong, +852 2110 0152
Full moon meditation
Meditation is increasingly an everyday tool used by anybody to cope with day-to-day stresses. For those who enjoy getting into the more spiritual root of the practice, meditating during the full moon can bring about more compelling results, due to the belief that it is when spiritual energies flow to their peak within the month. Buddhists believe that it’s meant to be a time for spiritual reflection.
While you can channel your inner flower child at home, we recommend taking a guided approach at the Four Seasons Spa’s monthly Full Moon Meditation sessions (HK$550 plus 10% service charge; next ones take place on 27 August, 24 September, 24 October, 22 November, 22 December 2018). After a brief introduction to the current moon cycle, the session begins with a yoga nidra-style of deep, silent meditation, followed by hands-on healing with essential oils that pertain to the current cycle of energy. All the while, Angela the Sound Master will be playing vibrational tunes with her singing bowls.
The Four Seasons Spa, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 3196 8900
Hate your annoying boss? Just got dumped by your boyfriend? If you think meditation or massage is a little too soft for the rage you have built up inside, there’s always smashing objects. Yes, at Ikari Area, a quirky venue in Kwun Tong, you can book a session to destroy, vandalise, throw and rip objects apart to release all that pent-up stress.
Ikari Area, Unit A10, 12/F, Block A, Mai Hing Industrial Building, 16-18 Hing Yip Street, Kwun Tong, Hong Kong
Float in an isolation pod
If the weight of the world gets you weary, you might want to lift all that burden by diving into a zero-gravity isolation tank. A trend emerging in Hong Kong in the past few years, floating in a sensory deprivation tank has been touted to reduce stress by relieving the forces of gravity — and hence any physical strain — on your body. The isolated environment allows for true rest, and is very conducive for sleep: one hour in a floatation tank reportedly equals the amount of relaxation acquired in four hours of restful sleep. For sleep-deprived Hongkongers (who sleep an average of 6.64 hours per night) it sounds like the ultimate time-efficient pick-me-up. Our last visit to a float studio was at Tsim Sha Tsui’s Floax, which boasts chic, minimalist surrounds: from the leafy lounge that wouldn’t look out of place on a Kinfolk cover to the shower equipped with spa-scented, eco-friendly bath products. A 45-minute session here costs only HK$488.
Floax, 1/F, Wing Hing Mansion, 16 Granville Circuit, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 2321 9624 / +852 9546 5353
Try a watsu treatment
If you enjoy the aspect of floating in water for its relaxative effects, but can’t stand being static, look to watsu. This Balinese treatment is a unique kind of aquatic bodywork, done while floating in a chest-deep pool of body-temperature water. Hong Kong’s first and only watsu pool is tucked in Fivelements, the luxury spa retreat located within the Hong Kong Golf and Tennis Academy. The therapist maneuvers, stretches and swirls the partaker in a watery dance, where the heightened sense of feeling while floating allows for easier muscular and mental release. A 60-minute session is priced at HK$1,600.
Fivelements, Hong Kong, 81 Tai Chung Hau Road, Sai Kung, Hong Kong, +852 3959 0000