In search of wellness, lightness and that coveted youthful glow, Zaneta Chengexplores all the ways traditional holistic practices are now becoming mainstream and in some cases proving more effective than machines
What are Ayurveda doshas? Vata, Kapha, Pitta – I had no idea what these were until one evening when I went to Sun and Moon, a massage parlour that looks to integrate Ayurvedic medical practices with a massage. Based on the idea of the five elements, each dosha is believed to govern a person’s mental, emotional and physiological health. Think of it as a cross between traditional Chinese medicine and a personality test.
It’s determined I’m of the pitta dosha, which represents sunny hot days and people with muscular, athletic builds who are strong leaders. Pitta dosha personalities are highly motivated, goal-oriented, and have healthy skin and hair. Given all of this information, including that I should focus on work-life balance and avoid extreme heat in weather and in food, my recommended course of treatment is a magnetic therapy detox massage, which focuses on more vigorous bodywork targeting pressure points to eliminate toxins. Prior to the body treatment, there’s a foot massage that incorporates an infrared healing light for the feet.
We’ve come a long way from the hole-in-the-wall Tui Na massages of yore, where clients would be ushered into a room separated by curtains and foam-board walls. Attitudes towards holistic well-being, which considers physical, emotional, environmental and spiritual health, have changed drastically in the past decade as mental health “gyms” have sprouted up and alternative approaches to spas have become more and more popular.
Sun and Moon fits perfectly in this new genre. Actor and #legend100 member Kevin Chu says of the parlour, “I like the interior design. Without travelling much, I was hoping to find a place for a good massage and experience.” While the former athlete primarily still goes to get massages to relieve muscle tension from exercise, ambience and experience have become important considerations.
Even beauty parlours, which in Hong Kong have always placed focus on lasers and technology that deliver immediate results, are combining machine tech with TCM practices. A common concern would be under-eye bags. Those pesky pockets of sagging skin have heretofore been zapped with all manner of light and other machinery, but at Kenko708, it starts with a massage comb. The logic behind this is based on pressure points in Chinese medicine.
With nerves collected at the top of the skull, combing hair is the best way to unclog blocked systems without resorting to spot treatment. It’s precisely the all-rounded approach, figuring out how the problem fits the greater scheme of the body’s operations and treating it from there.
Similarly, at Kenko708, treatments are geared around traditional Chinese practices. Owner Pauly Yip has worked with beauty tech companies to create gwa sha devices and cupping machines that work more effectively and deeply than their traditional counterparts. The aim is to pursue traditional methods of muscle relief and detoxification that work and go further than what was originally possible.
Take the ginger body treatment, for example. According to TCM, ginger is a great detoxifying element that eliminates chill and wind. As one of the first wellness centres to massage customers using freshly pulverised ginger juice and set it with aromatherapy oil, Kenko708 has since seen the treatment become widespread across beauty parlours in Hong Kong looking more and more to approach beauty and health from a wellness perspective. Ginger on the skin triggers blood circulation and a good sweat, after which the body feels lighter and menstrual pain is alleviated for many women who get the treatment. Coupled with the establishment’s exclusive steam urns shipped from Japan, the experience is a complete top-to-toe detox, relaxation and beautification ritual.
But beauty also comes in the strangest places these days. Instead of injections, consider visiting a chiropractor. From jaw realignments to opening up the eyes, chiropractors are now many urbanites’ go-to wellness providers. Stylist and #legend100 member Justine Lee says, “I think I realised the importance of chiro appointments and spine alignment a few years ago when I fractured my ankle. I was relying too much on one side of the body and noticed my shoulders were hurting, and my hips were tight (it was especially apparent during exercise). I started going to regular chiro appointments earlier this year (I swear by the magic that is Dr Michelle McCulloch’s hands – she’s at UP!Health) and I just feel a lot better when everything is balanced and even – everything from mobility performance like working out in the gym, but also better sleep and digestion. The adjustments are never really massive, but after each session, I always feel a little lighter.”
Similarly unexpectedly, acupuncture has recently risen in popularity as a great way to rejuvenate the face and neck. At Jenny Yeung’s clinic, Yeung and Young Medicare Centre, the TCM doctor also offers skin radiance programmes that use herbal steaming, herbal masks, acupuncture and ultrasound to lift the skin and fight acne, hyperpigmentation and wrinkles.
The offerings are now so bountiful that if one prescribes a beauty regimen solely comprising these services, there’s no longer a real need for invasive treatments. It’s one step forward for women who want to pursue alternative methods of beauty treatments but a big leap in turning beauty from the inside out into reality more than ever before.