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Stress-Free 2014: 9 Of-the-Moment Treatments to Try, From Fake Mud to Magnet Facials

Hollywood is falling for out-there ways to unwind in the new year -- people "even sleep through extractions," says a facialist.

A Naga Thai massage therapist uses silks to apply weight and pressure with precision.
Courtesy of Nike Communications

1 Spiritual Breathwork

In contrast to talk therapy, there's a shortcut to letting go of past traumas: Spiritual breathwork. Healer-trainer Robert Lee (robertleefitness.com), who has done fitness training for Sally Field and Salma Hayek, conducts his trademarked private Evolved Breathing sessions on clients who lie on a massage table. The first hour involves questions rapidly executed by Lee, who gently pushes on your stomach, taps your chest and claps above your face when you answer to disperse negative energy. For part two, the client holds metal rods while breathing forcefully with the mouth open as a release, accompanied by music and encouragement. Those who swear by Lee experience sensations of lightness and of having moved forward.

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2 Virtual Mud Walking

Every Saturday morning, book publisher Robert Wallace of Asahina & Wallace and his wife, writer Holly Palance, walk through imagined obstacles with teacher Larry Sarokin. Based on a 4,000-year-old exercise practiced by Taoist monks, participants visualize stepping in mud of various depths while walking in a circle with an arm outstretched toward the center. The natural twisting that occurs while walking in a circle spreads deep into internal organs while massaging them. Sarokin claims that circulation is increased, and stress is reduced. "It's a meditation while moving," says Sarokin (mudwalking.com).

3 Silent Retreats

Spirit Rock Meditation Center (Woodacre, Calif., spiritrock.org) and Insight Meditation Society (Barre, Mass., dharma.org) are devoted to teaching silent Buddhist meditations known as vipassana during nine-day retreats. There's no reading, music or talking. "You gain a new energy and a fearlessness that allows you to act in a clearer unattached way," says actress Daphne Zuniga, who has attended both retreats. "Fear and self-judgment go away." Payment is on a sliding scale. Northern California Vipassana Center's (Kelseyville, Calif., manda.dhamma.org) Buddhist meditation silent retreats last 10 days. "You live like a monk," says Alexis Carra, who soon will appear in ABC's Mixology. "You don't eat a full meal past noon, you can't satiate yourself with any social media, food, alcohol, sex -- all you have are your own thoughts." The center is donation-based.

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4 Naga Thai Massage

Thai massage typically employs ropes as suspension devices so that the therapist can use his own body weight to control and deliver precise massage techniques with the feet. Naga Thai, which was developed by Arizona spa resort Miraval's (miravalresorts.com) Thai massage masters, replaces the traditional ropes with blue silks, which make for a greater range of movement for the masseur and the massaged, with deeper and more precise stretches that bring a deep sense of calm.

5 The Sleeping Facial

Get skin in close-up condition while calming nerves at Nava (931 N. La Cienega Blvd.; navaskincare.com). Clients, who include Warner Bros.' Sue Kroll, come for top-notch skin care that Nava Hadad administers while they lie on a magnet-filled mattress that "increases circulation, oxygenation and is incredibly calming," says Hadad. "The mattress often lulls people to sleep through the entire facial. Many even sleep through extractions." Tailoring her treatments around high- powered schedules, she'll book clients well into the night and works around the clock in awards season. Facials from $275.

6 Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

The latest way to combat depression doesn't come in the form of a pill -- it's a procedure: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS. Doctors at UCLA (tmslosangeles.com) say their studies have shown that they can alleviate depression by pressing an electromagnetic coil against a patient's scalp to stimulate nerve cells in the brain's mood-control region. "It's remarkably effective," says Andrew Leuchter, director of UCLA's Laboratory of Brain, Behavior and Pharmacology. TMS is considered the least invasive of the brain-stimulation procedures used for depression. Unlike deep-brain stimulation, TMS doesn't require the implantation of electrodes.

 

7  Meditation from Vedic to Intro

Studio heads, heads of state, Oscar envelope designer Marc Friedland of Couture Communications and even a Nobel Peace prize laureate have turned to  maharishi (or master teacher) Thom Knoles (thomknoles.com), to learn Vedic Meditation. This effortless mental technique is best practiced twice daily. One concentrates on a sound which allows the mind to reach a state of inner quietness and get rid of accumulated stress. Course fees based on income. Michal Gregus created RESET for people who have hard time quieting their minds, letting go and are intimidated by meditation. His fully guided ResetMe practice combines many traditional methods including conscious breath work, light hypnosis, progressive relaxation. even aromatherapy, to help reduce of anxiety, stress and reset minds and bodies. His clients include highly stressed entertainment executives and celebrities.  $15 group classes, $90 individual sessions. ToResetClickHere.com And Laura Benanti, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Barrett Foa, and other celebrities find their inner calm with Emily Fletcher, founder of Ziva Meditation, zivameditation.com, which has studios in Los Angeles and New York and offers online courses. Geared to those who are convinced they cannot meditate, students are given a mantra and taught the mechanics of correct meditation.I used to go through life gripping everything so tightly which created tension in my work and relationships and I also had bad stage fright, says Benanti. Since learning meditation, everything shifted. The most stressful part of my job is not knowing where or when my next job will be. That anxiety can be very overwhelming. But Ziva Meditation has taught me to stay in each moment and breathe through all that life hands me. I rarely have performance anxiety anymore.  Even during The Sound of Music performing live for millions of people, I wasn't nervous. The online course is $250 (which includes live calls), in-person session (sliding scale.) 

8  Therapeutic Hypnotherapy

Actors overly obsessed about a new part, anxious musicians and producers who can't sleep have turned to psychotherapist Nancy Winston, LCSW, who has been using therapeutic hypnosis and teaching clinicians for more than 30 years. Through hypnosis Winston helps her clients tap into their unconscious mind and inspires them to come up with new solutions and ideas of how to deal with things in a more manageable way.  “There are times when we’re completely focused in one direction: like when we’re watching a movie or writing. That's exactly what hypnosis provides,” says Winston. “In that directed focus, you enter a special state of learning where you're open to new ways of dealing with or thinking about situations- like how can I deal with this role differently without obsessing about it so much.” Fees range from $250 onward, 212-721-3712.

9  Infrared Sauns

Imagine getting all the benefits of the sun without any damaging UV radiation. Infrared saunas offer that and more. They emit a penetrating heat (rather than a localized heat like a steam or traditional sauna does). The infrared helps increase the body’s core temperature which forces your body to build a healthy fever and, in essence, work out to cool off. The result is a sweat from the skin’s cellular level which promotes serious detoxification, calorie burn, cell regrowth, increased blood circulation and stress reduction. Actors and other Hollywood heavyweights like The Sweat Shop LA and Tao Healing Arts Center. 45 minute sessions at Tao, $20 (includes shower and robe, individual saunas available, www.thaconline.com). The Sweat Shop LA, $35 for 60 minute session (includes private sauna, shower, locally crafted shampoo, conditioner and body wash, www.thesweatshopla.com.) 

-- JERYL BRUNNER, TINA DAUNT, LAURIE PIKE and KATHERINE STEWART

This story first appeared in the Jan. 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

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