Global Wellness Rituals to Try This Year

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What is the secret to physical and mental well-being? Since the beginning of time, people have searched for the answer. Every country has its own traditions and take on self-care. In Finland, it involves steamy saunas and icy dips; in Tibet, sound vibrations are believed to heal and harmonize the body; and in the United States, floating in darkened soundproof pods to chill out is enjoying a renaissance. This new year, try a new wellness ritual from around the globe.

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Flotation Tanks
United States

While floating in a pitch-black soundproof pod filled with salt water might seem terrifying, this is one of the hottest wellness trends in the U.S. Devotees say the lack of stimuli creates a deep state of mental and physical relaxation that lasts long after emerging from the tank.

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Ayahuasca
Peru

Ancient Amazonian tribes used this psychedelic brew made from tea leaves for spiritual and religious purposes. Now, however, it has become popular worldwide as an alternative healing treatment to reach an altered state of consciousness and to heal past traumas, depression, cancer and more. During a retreat, a shaman prepares the drink and guides the participant through the ceremony, which can result in the body purging in all forms, which is believed to be part of the cleansing process.

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Hammam
Morocco

Hammam, or traditional Moroccan bath houses, aren't for the shy, as they are typically experienced in the nude and separated by gender. These public baths are places to socialize, relax and get squeaky clean—you'll be rigorously scrubbed and exfoliated down to a new layer of skin with black soap and a hand mitt.

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Saunas and Ice Swimming
Finland

Finland ranks as the happiest country in the world for the second year in a row by the United Nations. Could one of their secrets to being so content lie in their national pastime of sweating out the blues in a sauna? Or maybe it is the adrenaline rush of ice swimming, another popular activity Finns do for a jolt of joy on a cold winter's day.

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Banyas and Branch Beating
Russia

Volunteering to be whacked with a bunch of oak leaves might not sound relaxing, but it's a traditional type of massage in Russian banyas, or bath houses. The beating of water-dipped branches takes place in a sauna, and it is believed to boost circulation and prevent premature skin aging.

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Laughter Yoga
India

Traditional yoga poses involving headstands or backbends might be intimidating to some, but Laughter Yoga is something everyone can do. In Mumbai in 1995, Dr. Madan Kataria created this hilarious meditative practice that involves cracking up for no reason in order to lower levels of stress hormones. Now it's contagious, and Laughter Yoga clubs can be found all over the world.

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Singing Bowls
Tibet

For centuries, Buddhist monks have used "singing bowls" for meditation and healing purposes. The vibrations created by these bowls are believed to balance, heal and restore out-of-harmony parts of the mind and body by reducing stress, focusing the mind and even relieving pain.

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Shinrin-yoku or Forest Bathing
Japan

Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing is the Japanese practice of immersing oneself in nature through the five senses as a form of preventative medicine and therapy. In fact, trees give off organic compounds that support cancer-fighting cells by boosting the immune system. A simple stroll in the woods also lowers blood pressure and accelerates recovery from surgery or illness.

Global Wellness Rituals to Try This Year