Whether you’ve made a New Year resolution to get fit and healthy or simply want to purge the festive beer from your body, January is the ideal time for a detox. Simon Stanley meets the Saigonites ready and waiting to decontaminate your mind, body, spirit and soul. Photos by Vinh Dao. Model: Jake Houseago
“If you want to smoke, that’s your business”, reads certified hypnotherapist Tom Grethen’s business card. “If you want to stop, that’s mine”. It’s the first distinction he makes when assessing a client’s suitability for hypnotherapy. “First I would ask you how motivated you are to stop on a scale of one to 10”, he explains as I fidget nervously at the idea of getting hypnotised. I don’t smoke but the friendly Luxembourger is keen to give me a demonstration of his techniques. “Then you give me a number. If it’s a seven, I’ll often ask you to call back when it’s an eight or more. You have to know that people are ready”.
Once onboard, Grethen is confident that many will be able to kick the habit after just one session. “People’s lives are not all the same”, he says. “I won’t give the same session twice. That’s why the tapes you can buy or download won’t work as well – I work with what you tell me”.
Grethen’s treatment focuses on smoking triggers; the situations or locations that smokers automatically associate with lighting up. “You want to identify every trigger”, he says. “Then when you’re in a hypnotic state you can mentally rehearse – with the guidance of the therapist – all of these situations and see yourself not smoking”.
Having assured me that he won’t make me eat an onion as if it were an apple or perform any other kind of crazy tricks you often see on TV, I agree to be ‘put under’. As well as breaking habits and addictions, from smoking to nail biting to over-eating, Grethen’s techniques can also address phobias, stress, anxiety and confidence issues. Self-doubt is part of being a writer so he kindly agrees to help me with the latter. I was fully expecting it not to work and had anticipated an awkward “Err, I’m still awake,” moment. But no. It worked. A thoroughly energising experience.
Visit hypno-therapy.net for more information.
La Holista is possibly the healthiest company in Ho Chi Minh City. Sitting down to chat with its founder, certified health coach and nutrition consultant Chiara Squinzi, I begin to feel guilty for ordering the caffeine and sugar packed ca phe sua da that’s sitting before me. “To eat healthily”, she tells me, “you just need to cut the junk. If it comes in a packet or is sold using advertising, it’s junk”.
Squinzi’s passion for her work is infectious and there isn’t much La Holista doesn’t offer when it comes to helping others get onboard and lead a healthier life. In addition to a wide range of homemade healthy snacks, La Holista provides personalised health and diet coaching, cookery classes, healthy shopping tours, corporate health consultations, in-school lessons and more.
A recent addition to La Holista’s arsenal is a three-day do-it-yourself detox kit. Consisting of highly nutritious, 100 percent natural super-foods and drinks, the cleanse aims to help you detox from the inside out, recharge your system and reset your eating habits.
“We wanted to make a cleanse programme that keeps you full, so you don’t starve as with the popular juice cleanses,” says Squinzi who offers her personal guidance to anyone purchasing the kit. “I fully support my clients,” she adds. “I follow their progress. My approach is very personal. I really care about what people are doing and I want them to be happy with my products”.
La Holista is offering 10 percent discount on health coaching from now until the 2016 Tet holiday for AsiaLIFE readers. For more information visit LaHolista.com.
BEAT THE BOOZE
It’s as if Luke Nguyen knew I was coming. Living in a city where a can of soda often costs more than a can of beer, the morning after-effects of alcohol are something many of us are all too familiar with. While a Vietnamese coffee is one solution, the Californian founder of District 1’s Guanabana – the all-natural smoothie bar – is concocting some healthier options for us all to wake up to.
Alongside their current menu of super healthy, detox friendly, more-vitamins-and-nutrients-than-you-can-shake-a-stick-at smoothies, a new range of cold-press juices is due to be launched by the time these words reach your bleary eyes. The one I’m most interested has been christened ‘Beet Detox’.
“It’s mainly beetroot and pineapple juice”, says Nguyen. “It’s a detox juice but it’s being targeted at hangovers. Beets are good at cleansing your blood and the pineapple adds some sugars to help you get rid of the alcohol. There’s carrot too which has a lot of beta-carotene (an antioxidant), then we have ginger which soothes your digestive system and helps with the nausea.
“Generally when you have a hangover you want to take care of your digestive system and your liver”, he adds. “You also want to replenish your nutrients”.
He presents me with a cup of the deep purple elixir.
“I studied biology at university,” says Nguyen, “so now I’m putting it all to good use”.
I take a sip.
“If you’re looking for a hangover remedy, this one’s the bomb”, he adds.
Oh, and it’s good. What could be an odd combination of flavours actually works perfectly. I feel every part of my body sigh a satisfying “ahhh!” as I drink.
Visit GuanabanaSmoothies.com for more information.
CLEAR YOUR MIND
In the shade of the coconut trees and towering bamboos bristling in the riverside breeze above us, just standing in the lush gardens of Finding Balance’s studios feels like a detox; a respite from the noise and pollution of the city which lurks silently at the far end of the street. Finding Balance offers a week-long timetable of art and yoga lessons but today I’m here to try my hand at tai chi, the ancient Chinese martial art taught by the studio’s co-founder Viet Bui.
We move into the airy studio and the pup-pup-pup of a distant fishing boat drifts in through the open shutters. After some deep breathing and stretching we move onto a progression of exercises routines involving the whole body. Within minutes I’m feeling the strain in my legs, my core muscles desperately twitching back and forth to keep me upright as one arm is lifted in one direction, one leg in another. And then switch…
“Tai chi is like moving meditation,” says Bui expertly balanced on one leg. “We’re moving slowly and concisely while concentrating deeply on what we are doing. We’re cleansing the body from within. When we talk about tai chi, we talk a lot about the cultivation of chi, the ‘life-force’. You need to continuously replenish your chi to maintain it, like the flow of water. It cannot be stagnant”.
As the lesson progresses I’m starting to learn the movements, almost like a dance. It’s an extremely mindful practice, though still hard work. As we approach the end of the session I begin to get a sense of the meditative potential of the art – my entire body and mind are focused.
“With regular practice, you will see a lot of health benefits”, says Bui. “Increased stamina; improved flexibility; better balance. This class is designed for people of all levels – beginners, newbies or long-term practitioners, all are welcome”.
Visit FindingBalance.vn for more information.
Christmas and New Year is a hectic time of year. Late nights, long flights, shopping, champagne and food, lots and lots of food. It all takes its toll and by the time you’re back to work in January all you want is a holiday. For those who can’t wait until Tet but still wish to leave the world behind for a morning or so, head to a tiny cobbled lane in District 3 where blissful sanctuary awaits.
Arriving at L’Apothiquaire’s flagship spa and boutique is like stepping back in time. A beautiful vintage car sits in the driveway of a breathtaking colonial mansion surrounded by tropical greenery, manicured gardens and a sparkling blue swimming pool. Lasting approximately five hours, starting with a cup of herbal detox tea and ending with a four course homemade meal, L’Apothiquaire’s Haute Couture Detox Package is the perfect way to hit your reset button without lifting a finger. They’ll even come and pick you up for free if you live in Districts 1 or 3. Using all of their own natural, organic and high quality products throughout, the quality of L’Apothiquaire’s treatments is second to none.
The package begins with a soothing foot massage and a spell in the steam sauna with fresh herbs and essential oils. Relaxed yet? The body scrub and lymphatic massage that follows may wake you up a little, but it’s all for a good cause, boosting circulation and bringing those pesky toxins to the surface of your skin.
Any last remnants of the festive season still lurking within will be coaxed out in the next phase – a cleansing body wrap using an exothermic blend of fucus algae, lemon, creeping ivy and caffeine to deeply penetrate the skin and increase capillary circulation. Once you’re snugly wrapped up and covered in a blanket, it’s time to sweat it out. Rehydrate thoroughly then chill out with a personalised facial utilising specialist European techniques and some of the finest skin care products available in Saigon. Getting healthy never felt so good.
Visit SpaSaigon.com for more details.