URBAN OASIS

Byline: Alexandra Bellak

NEW YORK — Need a way to beat the stress of life and work here?
Try the SoHo Sanctuary, a new spa at 119 Mercer Street exclusively for women.
The spa is the brainchild of Helen Benham, a longtime SoHo resident who saw a need for an oasis in this bustling neighborhood after she returned from a serene trip to Martha’s Vineyard. She and business partner Leslie Nelson, a trained dancer with a certificate in the Alexander technique and Kripalu Yoga instruction, opened the SoHo Sanctuary in January.
“We wanted to open a sanctuary just for women, focusing on a holistic approach to well-being,” said Nelson, who teaches group and private yoga classes at the spa.
Fresh fruit, flowers, hot tea and soothing music welcome the upscale clientele to the third-floor loft. The scent of lavender, a stress-relieving herb, permeates the rooms, creating a sense of calm. Benham and Nelson envisioned a clean, fluid space with natural colors and lighting. The architectural team of Ryall/Porter transformed this 3,500-square-foot space into a movement studio, octagonal steam room, meditation room with bamboo plants, a private studio for one-on-one classes and five treatment rooms called Tranquility, Calm, Radiance, Energy and Balance.
“Our motto is to bring out the inner beauty by creating a full experience,” said Beth Gordon, general manager.
There are classes in yoga; tai chi ch’uan; mindful fitness, which incorporates resistance props like bands and balls to strengthen and stretch muscles; facial fitness, or exercises to tone the muscles of the face, and meditation for relaxation.
Among the treatments are reflexology, a foot massage focusing on pressure points of the feet; shiatsu; aromatherapy, and Sanctuary massage, which is a combination of massage techniques to stimulate the body’s natural healing ability.
Unique to the SoHo Sanctuary is the Moor-Life body wrap, which uses Moor mud from the Austrian Alps. Comprising 1,000 nourishing herbs, it was once used by Napoleon and Louis XIV to purify the body. This treatment and the herbal salt glow are popular, the owners said.
Skin care treatments use the Dr. Hauschka skin care line of natural products with bio-dynamically grown herbs and follow the Hauschka methods of application. The herbs are applied to the skin in a rhythmic motion to stimulate and balance the skin. Herbal masks, lymph stimulation and deep cleansing techniques are some of the treatments available.
“We have created a very private and safe environment for our clients,” said Gordon. “Our clients even say that they feel like they have been transported out of the city after visiting our spa.”
Prices range from $20 for group classes, which includes use of the steam room and lockers, to $70 for a one-hour private yoga or movement class. Massage therapies cost from $70 for a one-hour Sanctuary massage to $120 for a Moor-Life body wrap or $140 for a two-hour fragrant herb wrap. Dr. Hauschka products are for sale.
The SoHo Sanctuary is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.

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