Raise your hand if you like to relax. Okay, now raise your hand if you actually take the time to relax. How many of you are sitting in front of your screens reading this with your hands up? I won’t assume too many (and not just because it might look kinda silly). We all lead busy lives, trying to fit in as much as we possibly can within what seems to be the confines of only a 24 hour day.
There’s something I want you to do right now. Give yourself a big fat metaphorical pat on the back because darnit, you work hard. And guess what? You deserve some credit. Most of us feel bad if we decide to take a break. We get an overwhelming sense of guilt when we think about all of the things that we need to get done and how they will keep piling up if we don’t get to them right away.
There’s a saying that I love, “Don’t work hard, work smart“. If you work smart, you’re planning properly and with that comes actively taking time to relax so that you can be more productive upon returning to work. If you don’t, you’ll be working harder and harder to fight the residual effects of not taking the time to shut off and to take care of YOURSELF.
One of my favourite ways to relax is to book into Le Nordik Spa Nature. So, when that feeling of being overwhelmed started to creep in, I booked myself in for a full day at the spa and decided to bring Amanda along with me!
Le Nordik Spa Nature is the largest spa in North America. Located at the entrance of Gatineau Park, it’s only a 10 minute drive from downtown Ottawa. Unique installations include: 7 outdoor baths, 8 unique saunas – similar to the top rated sauna manufacturers, infinity pool, restaurant and lounge. Services include the thermal experience, several different types of massage and tailored body treatments. Their newest edition is Källa, the unique salt water floating pool.
Maintaining a commitment to the earth is just as important as offering high quality services. Where possible, during construction, they used as much recycled material as possible. And when they did source out wood, it came from certified forests for new construction. In addition, with efficient insulation and an elaborate heat-recovery system, all buildings exhibit a high level of energy performance.
Le Nordik is truly a gateway into a world of immense relaxation, where tranquility will greet you and then wrap you in a feeling of unparalleled comfort, all in complete symbiosis with nature.
Here are the highlights of our day filled with healing and relaxation:
The Thermal Experience
A passive exercise with active benefits, this therapeutic ritual has been in existence for over 2,000 years and for good reason. The physiological and psychological benefits are both immediate and long lasting. Alongside the many physical benefits, thermotherapy purifies both the body and spirit, thus encouraging one to find natural balance and harmony within themselves.
During the process, the body’s temperature is initially increased, thus promoting the act of sweating. Immediately following, the body’s temperature is decreased drastically, which initializes an automatic healing response within the cells. Once you relax, you are allowing your body time to regulate back to normal temperature and ease into the repair process, which then decreases the inflammatory response.
In addition to causing an immediate sensation of well-being and relaxation, heat therapy can help your body to eliminate toxins, regulate the immune system and improve overall sleep quality. By relaxing your muscles and increasing body oxygenation, this therapy can also enhance endurance and aid you in finding relief from injuries.
Here’s how it works:
Warm up in a sauna or steam bath for 10 to 15 minutes.
Do a quick pass under a waterfall or take a dip in a cold or temperate pool for a few seconds.
Rest fifteen minutes in one of their many beautiful and peaceful relaxation areas, outside or inside.
Repeat this ritual three or four times, finally immersing yourself in one of the whirlpools for a moment of total relaxation.
The site has 3 zones, each with a distinct experience: Borëa, where whispering is permitted, Kaskad, where complete silence is required, and Panorama, the social area where talking is permitted.
From May to September, their Relaxation and Swedish massages are given outdoors in small wooden shelters up in the trees in a natural area of the site – this is Massana-Nature. During this experience I was surrounded by the fragrant forest, soothing music and a magnificent view of the Gatineau hills as their expert massage therapist pampered my body with the best massage I’ve ever had. Hands down (see what I did there?)
Massage promotes deeper breathing and can relieve signs of stress. With each deep motion, your muscles begin to relax and pain is then eased. By promoting the stimulation of blood circulation, it can also help to release accumulated fluids within the body. And can we talk about how incredible it feels to just let go?
Prior to my massage, I was asked to choose one of their custom essential oil blends which are hand-crafted by an expert aromatherapist. In order to stay true to the experience, I followed where my instincts led me and chose the clove oil. As an antiviral, antimicrobial, antifungal and antiseptic, Clove has very stimulating properties which can aid with the effects of stress, headaches, indigestion and blood impurities.
Offering many different types of massage, Le Nordik aims to transport you to a state of total “zenness”. But it doesn’t just stop there. Also on the services menu are various other body treatments including face care, body care, foot care and even specialty treatments specific to your skin type.
Källa is a large salt water pool dug 5 meters deep into the rock. Filled with water saturated to 12% of Epsom salt, it is only the second salt-water floating pool in the world (the other being in Switzerland)! A carefully selected balance of magnesium salts are used in a high purity water system and are constantly monitored to ensure proper salinity.
Magnesium is an essential mineral utilized for several functions within the human body. One of my favourite amongst them is relaxation. By soaking this up through your skin, you are allowing for muscles to relax and your nervous system to become nourished from the outside in.
The Källa treatment has been designed to allow users to achieve full mental and physical bliss. The pool is perfectly level and the continuous flow of water over its rounded edges minimizes turbulence, so that the presence of others will not disturb your inner voyage. In addition, the minimalist subterranean setting heightens the sensation of timelessness.
Once you are done your float treatment, you’ll be so rested that you feel like you’ve slept for hours! In the experience, you will certainly embrace the weightlessness in the quiet atmosphere of its underground location.
Steps to follow:
1- Enter slowly into the pool in order not to make waves
2- Make yourself comfortable in a sitting position. then recline gradually, arms on each side of your body
3- Relax the muscles in your neck so that your head is floating and your ears are under water
4- Once floating, do not worry about where you are, center yourself and let Källa offer you its benefits
I love food, so of course it’s one of my top highlights of the day! But our meal wasn’t just food, it was an experience. In true Nutritionist form, I asked a lot of questions about sustainability and sourcing. Wherever possible, they use local and seasonal ingredients from farms located within the area. This is done in order to support the local communities, solidify their knowledge of how and where their food is grown or sourced and to decrease the travel time from farm to table. There is also a small garden near the restaurant where they grow all of their own fresh herbs for each dish.
Our meal started out with a cheese platter, because why wouldn’t you start with cheese? It’s Quebec, which means that it’s obviously delicious. If you knew nothing about Quebec cheese before reading this – first off, where have you been? And second, you’re welcome for introducing your taste buds to this new adventure.
Straight from the farm down the street, we indulged in some raw, organic, unpasteurized, 9 month old cheese and didn’t speak a word as we ate it in complete awe. Generally, I steer clear of dairy due to intolerance, but I had no problems with this one, folks. It was chock-full of beautiful live enzymes and yummy healthy bacteria.
Our main dishes were equally as healthy and delicious. But we weren’t finished just yet. We opted for dessert without hesitation or an ounce of judgement. If we were going to indulge, we were going to do it right.
From the minute we walked into Le Nordik, we both felt an immediate and immense sense of peace. It is a world away from everything else going on in our busy lives. The architecture is stunning, but the energy truly speaks for itself. With the sounds of rushing streams and waterfalls, to the scents of fresh burning wood fires and essential oils, to the calming nature-filled scenery – it is the perfect place to unwind.
The Next Day
When I woke up the next day, I felt like someone had pressed my reset button. I was relaxed, rejuvenated and back on the path to healing. Returning to my busy life with a clear mind and healthy body, I was able to be more efficient and productive within my busy life.
It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind. Take a moment to be present and then recognize that you need to reset. Understand that it’s not selfish to take care of yourself as it’s an integral and necessary part of making the most out of being alive.
All Photos: Amanda Hayden Photography
Except Photos of Kalla Treatment: Le Nordik Spa Nature
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