The start of a new year is often a time to go back to the drawing board and address all the health- and beauty-related issues so many of us have been meaning to get to for so long.
But forget fasting, juicing, going raw or going anywhere. Today's wildest detox regimes -- think "rebirthing," salt cave therapy or gold mask therapy -- are so au natural they can be found in your backyard, or even your mind.
One way to get to the new you is to return to when you were brand new. "Rebirthing" claims to do just that.
Rebirthing is a healing process triggered through breathing. Practitioners believe that it is possible to address anything blocking the way to the new and better you through simply breathing. Quite often, they say, problematic issues we deal with in our adult life go back to the moment we came out of the womb and took our first breath.
"For some babies the transition is challenging," said rebirthing practitioner Jane Okondo. "There may be some shock or pain. Very often it is an emotional issue, and that can impact your physical well-being."
Practitioners suggest a series of guided breathing meditations. As you progress, Okondo said, it is not uncommon to revisit your own birth. You may experience it all over again, or simply see it in a new light. Afterwards, the trauma of the experience can fade and, hopefully, cease to reverberate in a debilitating way in adult life.
For a snapshot of rebirthing I visited Okondo at her home in London. I reclined in a comfortable chair and Okondo sat next to me. In a soft, calm voice she guided me through deep breathing techniques. I wasn't trying to breathe in a certain way as much as I was simply focusing how I naturally breathe.
Okondo would point out the moments between inhale and exhale, instruct me to relax my jaw or brow or simply help maintain a vocal cadence to breathe in time as I grew increasingly relaxed (after only a few minutes I must admit I did begin to yawn.) Normally Okondo recommends a series of sessions. One session can help, but as many as five, 10 or more sessions are recommended to really dig deep.
At $130 for each two-and-a-half hour session, rebirthing is not cheap. After the first mini-session I felt more relaxed. When I went to sleep that evening I focused on my breathing to calm myself down into a peaceful sleep. On the feel-good scale, with 1 being couch potato and 10 being a fabulous, detoxified Super Me, I felt closer to the couch potato side. Still, I did feel more relaxed, and all I had to do was breathe.
That was also the theme at my next stop: salt cave therapy. Salt caves have long been believed to be natural healers in many Eastern European countries. In London, I visited the first manmade salt cave to see what all the hype was about. In a room made entirely of salt imported from the Red Sea, tiny particles of sodium chloride are pumped into the air by a micro-climate generator. All you have to do is sit back and relax for an hour. As you inhale, the salt particles are said to infiltrate your lung cavity and work wonders on respiratory illnesses such as sinusitis and asthma.
Jenny Berman has been fighting to keep her asthma in check for most of her life. She says living in an urban environment has taken a toll on her respiratory system. She also found the medications prescribed to fight her asthma only suppressed her symptoms instead of treating them.