Boulder is the perfect place for a wellness vacation — or even a mid-day “staycation” if you live here. The health-centric community is highly educated and just as open-minded, which blends together to bring many cutting-edge, sometimes rare wellness offerings.
Here are 24 unique health and wellness things you’ve just got to try in Boulder.
1. Get light therapy.
On the rare days when the sun isn’t shining in Boulder, sit by a special light box for a half hour or longer. Light therapy is highly effective in helping beat the “winter blues.” Studies show it helps as many as 70 percent of people with seasonal affective disorder after a few weeks, or sooner. You can find a basic lightbox at Walgreens. Boulder has multiple Walgreens locations: 4800 Baseline Road and 3348 N. 28th St.
2. Relax with vibrations and strobes.
IReVibe, 2760 29th St., blends two uncommon pieces of technology to help you relax, deepen your consciousness and stretch your mind. The result: a psychedelic trip, without illegal substances. You lie on a vibrating board that sends specific frequencies through your body, and as you relax and focus on your breathing, a special lamp projects a bright light and strobe lights at your face. The combo is said to cause you to fall into a deep, trance-like state. People who do it say you can’t explain it. Much like an acid trip.
3. Experience Ayurveda.
The ancient Eastern medicine system, Ayurveda, has its own approaches to health and wellness. Visit John Douillard’s LifeSpa in Gunbarrel for treatments and advice. It offers detoxes and cleanses, various workshops, tons of products and articles online and personalized consultations.
4. Visit the apothecary.
Learn about how botanical medicine might be able to improve your health. Visit Rebecca’s Herbal Apothecary and Supply, a great source for bath and body products, aromatherapy, tea and herbal blends, bulk herbs, flower essences and alternative medicine for everything from cold and flu to aches and pains. There’s also the Ananda Apothecary, where you can find vitamins, supplements, essential oils, CBD products and more.
5. Giggle in yoga.
You’ve done Vinyasa, but have you done Laughter Yoga? The saying “laughter is the best medicine” is not a lie, according to Laughter Yoga lovers.
“When we laugh our bodies release a cocktail of hormones and chemicals that have startling positive effects on our system. Stress is reduced, blood pressure drops, depression is lifted, your immune system is boosted and more. Western science is just starting to discover the great effects of laughter,” the Laughter Yoga website explains. Add to that yogic breathing exercises and you’ve got a unique wellness class.
Join the chuckles regularly at Grace Lutheran Church in Boulder or hold your own event. No jokes or reason to laugh required.
6. Float away.
Floating in a sensory deprivation tank (or float tank) is a way to sink into deep relaxation and meditation. You typically spend 90 minutes in about 10 inches of warm water mixed with epsom salt. The zero-gravity experience is said to aid with insomnia, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, low circulation, fibromyalgia, high blood pressure and addiction. It can reduce feelings of stress. The experience is all about relaxing, reducing external stimulation (you can choose to float in light or darkness, silence or to the music of your choice), resetting and returning to your natural state.
In Boulder, check out the Isolate Flotation Center and Radi8 Float (formerly Cloudnine Float Center).
7. Try yoga with acupuncture.
Nomadic Yogis at Elevated Yoga Studio in Longmont is known for its unique yoga classes. There’s yin yoga, Body Wisdom Yoga, yoga with meditation, yoga-massage (a fusion of yoga and massage), Taoist Yoga (using ancient Chinese cultivation techniques of “chi” via postures, breathing, meditation and more) and more.
We especially enjoy Acu-Yoga (adding in acupuncture). No, you don’t try to do downward dog while stuck with the mini needles. An acupuncturist drifts throughout the yoga studio and does mini treatments on students in between postures. It’s ultra relaxing and healing.
8. Experience Spinal Reflex Therapy.
If you like massage, you won’t believe the impact of Spinal Reflex Therapy. SRT uses gentle pressure on points of a body instead of massaging and rolling of the muscle, but it’s not trigger-point therapy. Many of the points are near the spine, with the intention to affect the neurology. SRT follows a specific protocol that is scientifically supported and guarantees to yield the same results every time, no matter the practitioner, no matter the client. SRT is evidence-based, using the direct link between spinal neurology and many kinds of soft tissue pain and dysfunction.
Learn more about SRT and how it’s different than massage here.
9. Try vibration therapy.
Vibrations can also have a powerful effect on people. Atma Buti is a sound and vibrational healing school in Boulder that teaches people how to use traditional Tibetan singing bowls. Atma Buti means “soul medicine” in Sanskrit. The school is accredited by the state’s Department of Higher Education.
10. Attend a gong bath.
If you’re into vibration for health and wellness, make sure you attend a gong bath. (Note: It’s not actually a bath in a tub with a rubber duckie. The “bath” part is figurative, meaning you will be immersed in the vibrations around you.) Gong baths are another way to experience vibration for healing, relaxation and meditation. This ancient tool aims to deeply relax the mind and body and it’s often paired with yoga. Dharma Vibration is one local group that organizes gong baths. You can also buy your own gong or singing bowls at Old Tibet on the Pearl Street Mall.
11. Learn about essential oils.
Essential oils are pretty common these days, even beyond the Boulder bubble. Find them in grocery stores or buy them from your DoTerra-pitching friend on Facebook. The wellness claims abound, from using lavender to help with sleep to tea tree oil to help with acne. The Ananda Apothecary is one place to get your oil fix. Also check out Rootfoot, a Northern Colorado-based essential oil company.
12. Heal yourself with homeopathy.
Looking for an alternative to the pharm industry? Homeopathy dates back 200 years. As Boulder naturopath doctor Jody Shevins explains it, “Homeopathy is a systematic, scientific method of therapy that stimulates and fine tunes an individual’s ability to heal and function optimally.” Each treatment is individualized, and the goal is to stimulate the body to correct its imbalances and issues itself. Homeopathic remedies themselves don’t cause the healing; they are supposed to help the body’s self-healing abilities.
13. Sit in the salt spa.
Ever noticed how great you feel after a day at the beach? Turns out, there’s science behind that (and it’s not just the margs). Spending time around sea salt has a slew of health benefits, such as helping with asthma, allergies, respiratory issues, sinusitis, chronic ear infections, cystic fibrosis, hay fever, sore throat, snoring, tonsillitis, stress reduction, insomnia, eczema, acne and more. It’s called salt therapy or halotherapy.
Around here, we don’t have the beach or any nearby natural salt mines, so the Louisville-based Salt Spa has created its own indoor salt room, made with a specific humidity and air temp.
14. Visit the oxygen chamber.
We know. The air is thin here. Despite what it might feel like to visitors, we swear there is oxygen in Colorado’s air. But in case you need more, there’s also the Louisville-based Rocky Mountain Hyperbaric Institute, which offers Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.
Inhale 100 percent oxygen in a special chamber (with controlled atmospheric pressure) and it will enhance the body’s natural healing process. It’s safe, non-invasive, painless, comfortable and has few side effects. This FDA-approved medical treatment can be used for a variety of conditions, but the institute specializes in brain injuries and chronic wounds.
15. Chill at the O2 bar.
If you’re craving oxygen but don’t need the intensity of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, Boulder has an oxygen bar in downtown. The Tonic Herban Lounge serves up potion-like herbal drinks and raw food with a side of oxygen.
16. Drink your potions.
Tonic isn’t the only play to get a healthy potion in Boulder. Shine Restaurant and Potion Bar, serves what it claims are the first energetically curated beverages to hit the cocktail scene. They call them potions, and they’re crafted with special herbs, as well as gem essence, flower essence and sound frequencies, all with a specific intention. The premise: the science of Masuro Emoto, which found the environment of water affected its molecular structure.
17. Sleep in yoga class.
Restorative yoga can help reduce stress and calm the nervous system. Try Yoga Nidra, aka “yogic sleep.” This kind of yoga is done while lying down, often on a mat with a blanket. The instructor will guide you through meditation and into a sleep-like state, while you remain conscious and aware. Relaxing with a blanket in a sleep state? That’s like adult nap time. Try it at the Yoga Loft.
According to the Yoga Loft, benefits include improved cardiovascular health, hormonal balance, memory recall, mental clarity and stress relief. It can also help with insomnia.
22. Ground yourself.
Earthing or grounding is a common practice in Boulder. The premise is actually simple: Touch the earth. Earthing fans believe that direct contact with the earth (think: walking barefoot through the grass) gives you a healthy charge of natural energy that can make you feel better. They believe we spend too much time isolated from the planet by rubber, plastic, shoes, wood and concrete. Spend some time barefoot or lying on the grass. Or go deeper with special earthing products, like the Universal Mat Kit for your house.
23. Freeze (a little).
Cryotherapy is said to help your health, speed up recovery and relieve pain. It’s popular among athletes, and you can try it too at CryoFusion. Prepare to shiver; your body will be exposed to subzero temps for short periods of time. The chill is supposed to be anti-inflammatory, boost cellular survival, release endorphins and reduce pain.
24. Get cupped.
It might look strange afterward, when your back is lined with reddish-purple circles for a day or two, but cupping is supposed to have great health benefits. In cupping, heated glass cups are suctioned onto certain points of the skin. Chinese medicine believes this stimulates energy flow. Other fans say it helps with inflammation and pain, improves blood flow and can be relaxing.
At Boulder Cupping Therapy, try a focused cupping session or even Cupping Massage, which blends deep-tissue massage with cupping. Want to level up your cupping? Try Cupping Yoga.