What it is: Salt therapy, or halotherapy, involves breathing in tiny particles of salt that have been diffused into the air. The practice is “supposed to boost immunity, elevate mood, improve skin conditions like eczema and be rejuvenating,” said Kim Yannopoulou, owner of Salt Salon Spa Café. “There’s research on how it can help allergies and lung conditions,” she said, though those benefits aren’t thoroughly understood, according to the National Institutes of Health Ancient Greeks and medieval monks used forms of halotherapy, but a Polish doctor who noticed in the 1940s that salt mine workers rarely got respiratory ailments is credited with ushering the treatment into modern times.
What it’s like: When you arrive at Salt, ring the bell at a pinkish door on the side of the building, apart from the main entrance.
Once inside, you change into a robe and are offered water or tea in a soothing, candlelit waiting area. Then, you’re led into the salt room, its main wall made of blocks of pink- and orange-hued Himalayan salt and its floor thickly layered with salt pebbles. A half-dozen lounge chairs, soft lighting and a recording of waves crashing on sand help you pretend you’re at the beach.
You can kick back into a zero gravity chair, adjust your head pillow and close your eyes. Once you and any other guests (there were two the day I went) get settled, a staff person rings a chakra bowl to signal meditation time, then turns on the filtration system to dispense pharmaceutical-grade Himalayan salt into the air.
The results: Though I tried to meditate, I quickly fell into a snooze state, interrupted by the regular sound of the salt diffuser doing its job. After 45 short minutes, I was in a limp-noodle state.
Did the treatment help my lungs and skin? I couldn’t really tell. But I fervently wished I had booked a massage immediately after the salt cave experience, as another woman in the cave with me had done. While she floated away to her next treatment with a blissful expression on her face, I got dressed and gulped my water (salt air does make you thirsty).
Pro tips: Try taking a yoga class in the cave, or getting a massage (single or couples). Yannopoulou says the 45-minute experience I had is best as a prelude to a massage.
Also, if the beach-like air makes you hungry, head to Honey & Rye Bakehouse, a short drive up the road, for tea and a scrumptious scone (be warned it closes at 3:30 p.m. most days). Salt’s cafe is set to open in September.
Details: Salt Salon Spa Café, 3947 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park; 952-300-2153.
Cost: $35 for a 45-minute salt cave session.