I immediately feel lighter stepping into Salt & Spirit Wellness. The walls are as white as clouds, a mythically-proportioned gold gong shines at the back of the studio, and crystals shimmer in shades of violet, pink, and blue. It’s the elements you don’t see, however, that work the hardest to lend the studio its uplifting energy. Owner Roberta Vommaro used Feng Shui to design the space—which is washed in natural light thanks to its former life as a photography studio—and laid down a bed of crystals underneath the hardwood floors that work to ground, balance emotion, and protect against negative energy.
The intentional interior design is part of Vommaro’s vision for a place that fosters healing, vitality, and connection. “I wanted to create a place for wellness where you can be yourself and feel good in your skin,” says Vommaro. This ethos is at the heart of the studio’s roster of Kundalini, Hatha, Pilates, and meditation classes. Originally from Brazil, Vommaro worked as a lawyer in New York City for years before inhumane hours and chronic stress finally landed her in the hospital with a kidney infection. “My body was showing signs that I needed to slow down,” says Vommaro. “That’s when I started to look at more meditative, energetic practices like Kundalini.” (Learn why this woman left Canada and moved to Costa Rica.)
Salt & Spirit’s Kundalini classes take their cue from the Yogi Bhajan tradition, incorporating breath work, kriya (an energizing series of postures), and meditation. As I settle into a cross-legged position on my yoga mat and close my eyes, Vommaro explains that we will be working with the Kriya to Make You Enchantingly Beautiful. From the look of Vommaro’s dark, lustrous waist-length hair and radiant skin, this is yoga’s best kept secret. Coming off several weeks of work travel and feeling somewhere between a shriveled raisin and a blowfish, it also sounds like exactly what I need. We start with rhythmic, fast-paced breathing designed to release toxins, increase oxygen to the brain, and strengthen the navel chakra. I’m sweating within minutes and I’ve barely moved. “In kundalini we say that if you strengthen this chakra and use this core energetic centre, you basically align all the others,” explains Vommaro.
We warmup with hip rotations and Cat Cow to increase the flow of energy in the spine and then the kriya moves to a series of arm postures. Intertwining your fingers and stretching your arms behind or in front of yourself looks easy but hold these postures for several minutes and you’ll be crying out for your mother. “Kundalini taught me resilience and grit,” says Vommara. “When you hold an uncomfortable posture and make a commitment to focus and stay with it, it works on your nervous system and ability to trust yourself.” This kriya also works on the glandular and endocrine systems to detoxify and balance stress hormones. Vommara credits the practice to healing her cystic acne. Gong vibrations wash over me during our Savasana meditation, and the class ends with White Sun III calling us back to the room with their ethereal sound. (Love yoga and pilates but don’t have time for both? This combo class is for you.)
My first Kundalini class has ended, and I think I’m a convert. My mind feels clearer, my body lighter. I wish I could bottle this energy up and take it home. The good news is, I can. Salt & Spirit’s Ayurveda-based Graceful Living program offers daily methods for creating vibrancy and health through movement, meditation, and holistic beauty and nutrition regimens. The bespoke sessions are designed to meet a client’s individual needs. “You don’t have to quit your job, take monastic vows, or meditate five hours a day to be happy,” says Vommaro. “Kundalini is for everyone.”