Crystal Light Therapy Healed My Post-Marathon Body—Sort Of
Or maybe it was the nap?
I do a lot of things after running a marathon: I eat a whole pizza, I drink a lot of beer, I sleep for at least 12 hours, and then I try anything and everything I can do for recovery. Ice baths and hot baths, NormaTec leg sleeves, massages, gentle yoga-really, anything but running. But this year, I tried something new. Three days after the New York City Marathon, I went to "realign my energy field" with crystal light therapy.
Disclaimer: I am not the kind of person who keeps crystals around, meditates regularly (or at all), or believes anything Gwyneth Paltrow says. I know crystal light therapy has been around for years-it was introduced by a healing community in Brazil nearly 40 years ago-but I've never even contemplated it before. But some people swear by its benefits. Julie Von, a holistic doctor and acupuncturist who practices crystal light therapy at the New Clinic in New York City, says people claim crystal light therapy makes them "feel more energized, focused, relaxed, and at peace with themselves," helps them to "feel less stressed and increases their overall well-being and health," and "gives them insight into any personal diseases or health issues." Considering the wrecked state of my stiff, sore, and tired post-marathon body, I figured why not let the allegedly restorative power of crystals put me back in balance?
At Modrn Sanctuary, one of the latest boutique wellness spaces to pop up in NYC, you can choose from a myriad of holistic services, including hypnotherapy, acupuncture, salt therapy, and Ayurveda treatments. Just walking in will chill you out-the walls are painted a deep blue-black, a conscious decision founder Alexandra Janelli made to help calm visitors' minds and make them feel more relaxed.
Janelli walked me to the crystal light therapy (sometimes called crystal bed therapy) room, where the ~crystal bed~ awaited me. The Quantum Resonance Crystal Bed itself wasn't actually made of crystals, but you do lie atop a thermo-electrotherapeutic biomat filled with healing amethyst and black tourmaline. The rest of the power comes from different energy sources, including scalar waves, laser light, LEDs, magnets, and-the pièce de résistance-the "highly polished precise Vogel quartz crystals, cut to a specific frequency."
Those crystals are matched with colors adjusted to vibrational frequencies in the body's chakras, or energy centers. "As the color is transmitted through the crystal onto the corresponding chakra, the chakra is cleansed, energized, and brought into balance with all of the other chakras," explains Von. "This allows the other aspects of our self, whether it be mental, emotional, or physical, to be brought into balance. For when the chakras are out of balance, all the other aspects of ourselves will also be out of balance. Then, as these subtle energies are brought into balance, the body's own natural healing mechanisms are able to function as they were designed to do." Sounds a little woo-woo, but I could certainly benefit from a better functioning body. (Related: WTF Are Healing Crystals-and Can They Actually Help You Feel Better?)
Before you start, you're meant to set an intention by choosing a specific color (and therefore chakra) to focus on-I chose the red frequency, a grounding frequency at 285 hertz, which is supposed to help return tissue to its original form, restructure damaged organs, and rejuvenate and energize your body. "Think about a hose with water running through it," Janelli said. "Stress-physical, environmental, emotional, etc.-is like a kink in the hose; it causes a buildup of pressure in the system and the system cannot function in an ideal state. When provided the ability to smooth out the kink, the hose can return to a state of flow. This is what the crystal bed is doing."
Janelli warned me that once the treatment started, it might feel a little like an out-of-body experience-like my physical self was removed from my thoughts. I didn't really believe her, but once I settled in for what I assumed would be a solid, 25-minute nap, my brain did its typical pre-sleep, 1,000-thoughts-a-minute thing, and it was like those thoughts were just floating away from me. That hasn't happened to me before.
I lay there with an eye-mask on and headphones pumping ambient noise into my ears, and my body got heavier and heavier. At one point, I remember trying to move my fingers, but it was like the command never made it from brain to hand. Between the soothing vibrations of the biomat, the washing machine–like white noise, and the warm temperature of the room, I was out faster than I'd ever fallen asleep. When I was gently woken up at the end of the session, I felt restored-my muscles were still sore, but I felt more alert, clear-headed, more relaxed, and a little blissed out (whether from the nap or the crystals, I don't know, but it felt awesome either way). (P.S. Here are some proven strategies for recovery post-marathon.)
Twenty-five minutes in the bed will run you $75, which is a lot of money for a treatment that isn't FDA-approved and that, according to Von, doesn't have any actual science-backed benefits. That doesn't mean you won't find it helpful, though, if that's what you're into. "Crystal light therapy isn't a medicine, but it does elicit a state of calm," says Janelli. And even if that's partially the placebo effect working its mental magic, I'll take it.