By Sarah Stacey
For a unique, totally natural spa experience, Iceland is hard to beat. But it has much more to offer than just the famous Blue Lagoon, as our YOU tester discovered when she visited the Ion Adventure Hotel in Southwest Iceland, an hour’s drive from Reykjavik.
‘Lying in a geothermal outdoor pool, surrounded by stunning scenery while listening to the sonorous notes of a gong, has to be one of the most relaxing experiences I’ve ever had. The Yoga & Gong class started with stretches in warm water while taking deep breaths of the cool, pure air. I felt the tension melt away from my body. Then our teacher, Arnbjörg, encouraged us to lie back and relax while she began playing gongs and a copper xylophone. Their sounds seemed to harmonise with the untamed landscape.
‘Gongs have been used in sound healing for millennia in ancient cultures. Each has a different pitch or resonance and is played softly at first, then increasingly louder. As the sound grows it envelops you – it’s called a sound bath for good reason – and I found myself in an almost dream-like state. Apparently, the wandering rhythm persuades your brain waves to change from beta, our usual ‘doing’ daytime state, to alpha, linked to daydreaming, and then theta waves, which occur during dreams and deep meditation. Gong healing is said to calm your mind – which it certainly did – and may help some physical problems.
‘At a naturally heated pool, I tried a flotation session, donning a special Flothetta cap and leg supports that allow you to relax every muscle while you drift in the water, followed by a muscle-soothing natural hot tub. There were lots of other activities including trips to see the hot springs at Geysir – too hot for a dip! – and the dramatic Gullfoss waterfall. I went inside a dormant volcano in a special lift and rode a (pony-sized) Icelandic horse, returning to the hotel each evening to relax in the thermal pool or to admire the views – it barely gets dark in summer.
‘My final night was spent at the Alda Hotel in Reykjavik, with its lively cafés and bars. But you can’t leave Iceland without a visit to the Blue Lagoon, one of the largest and most popular geothermal pools in the world, conveniently situated in a lava field near the airport. Two hours relaxing there, using locally sourced silica mud as a face mask, ensured I left feeling completely rejuvenated with silky soft skin.’
Iceland Beyond (icelandbeyond.com) offers a four-day, three-night break from £1,990 per person including flights with Wow Air (season dependent)
FOR AT-HOME RELAXATION
– If your brain starts racing, bring it back to listen to the sounds.