Nowadays, the world feels like it moves at the speed of light. With everyone hunched over a variety of devices, trapped in a virtual reality, the possibility of balance and alignment eludes us like the Holy Grail.
There is so much out there that promises to detox your system and realign your chakras—everything from yoga to green juice. But sometimes it’s hard to know how to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Cranialsacral Therapy (CST) is many different things to many people. A form of bodywork that involves manipulating the flow of cerebral spinal fluid, this type of massage uses an extremely light touch to move the joints in the skull, spine, pelvis and face in hopes relieving stress.
The American Cancer Association dismisses the notion that Cranialsacral can cure any form of disease or cancer but, allow the possibility that the therapy could help with tension or stress. Another crackpot theory or a viable option for those with head, neck and back pain?
I decided to investigate for myself. Exhale Spa in Santa Monica offers CST but the tranquil setting alone will lower your blood pressure. Right near the ocean, inside the Miramar Hotel, the grounds feels like a daycation fit for Ferris Bueller.
Serene and elegant with lush gardens, numerous tinkling fountains and hushed music, the hotel breeds relaxation. Exhale offers an extensive variety of beauty and health services. In fact, Exhale’s reach extends to classes, like core fusion barre, and individual healing sessions in modalities like, acupuncture, cupping and Reiki.
Traditional spa treatments, like facials, manicures and massage are also available and you could easily spend a day at Exhale if you have the means. The amenities include a steam room and a sauna, as well as showers and a lounge for those who want to take advantage of each and every luxury.
But today, my focus was on the Cranialsacral massage. The CST promises to relieve “headaches, stiff neck and achy back pain.” My therapist, Kerry, acknowledged the hype but fully believes in the process, having been through it herself.
It’s definitely a challenge to separate the placebo from the actual effect, as the entire experience is so relaxing and fun. Exhale is the kind of immersive spa where you get a robe and slides and put all your things into a locker. There’s something about putting all of your worldly possessions, including your phone, into a box and locking them up as if letting them go – if only for a couple of hours.
Sitting in the steam room, the knots in my body began to loosen and I felt my cares recede into the vapor. After a good sweat and a squeaky clean shower, I was now sprawled out on a table swathed in cozy blankets; it was difficult to remember what exactly I had to be stressed about.
The CST Therapist commenced light manipulations about my face and head as soothing music played in the background. The quiet alone and break from my day felt like pampering worthy of a queen. I had a strange feeling of being a baby, tended to and swaddled, releasing my worries into the soothing hands of my masseur.
At the end, having drifted off to sleep a bit (yeah, it’s that relaxing), I felt lighter and slightly off center. Walking out into the daylight, it seemed like quite a bit of time went by and my shoulder seemed to unhunch. It’s hard to explain what exactly “happened” in the CST treatment. Regardless, I felt calmer and more relaxed—a few hours without texts, emails or Instagram. A true feeling of luxury.