Beijing, a massive ancient capital boasting thousands of years of history, also has thousands of everyday annoyances. Besides the hurdles of language and cultural barriers, dealing with throngs of blaring speakers, bright lights, gray skies, and horrible traffic are a daily struggle for expats. All of these factors also strongly weigh on our mental health and stress levels.
Luckily, Beijing is also a rapidly growing hub for services that combat the stresses of life, with numerous spas, wellness centers, and staycation options for your family. Or possibly simply for you and you alone to disconnect briefly with responsibilities and expectations in peaceful, positive settings. Here is a roundup of some of the best wellness and self-care options our sometimes stress-inducing city has to offer.
Mindfulness, simply put, is a practice that brings awareness of the present moment, which allows practitioners to focus on openly accepting their feelings, thoughts, and the sensations of the physical body. At the Beijing Mindfulness Centre, attendees can learn helpful de-stress techniques through coaching classes that aim to teach a calm awareness, which can reduce anxiety, improve decision making, stop over-thinking, make you a better employee or employer, and provide emotional balance. Contact The Beijing Mindfulness Centre to schedule coaching classes. 44 Qianyongkang Hutong, Dongcheng District. 东城区前永康胡同44号. (6403 4923)
For a complete disconnection from all the barrage of unrecognizable signage and WeChat notifications that bombard our daily lives here, try AWA Health’s sensory deprivation tank, one of the few places in the city where you can lie weightless in buoyant salt water. Fans of this treatment say it allows you to fully relax and enter a meditative state, where stresses and worries can be completely pushed away for an hour. Also, try a massage in their salt therapy room, which has been known to provide relief from respiratory ailments like asthma and allergies, as well as clearer skin. Daily 10am-10pm. L411, 4/F, Bldg 1, The Place, 9 Guanghua Lu, Chaoyang District. 朝阳区光华路9号世贸天阶1号楼南街4层L411. (137 1618 2745)
Housed in a re-purposed glazed tile factory with rooms boasting Mutianyu Great Wall views, The Brickyard offers a quick staycation option for easy relaxation. Check their website for seasonal special packages, like their romantic Friday Spa Getaway for you and your partner, which includes private transfers from Beijing, a superior queen room, a bottle of sparkling wine, and two sixty minute massages. And who can say no to a view of the Great Wall while cuddling in a warm, bubbling jacuzzi? 100m South of Yingbeigou Cun, Huairou District. 怀柔区营北沟村南100米. (6162 6506)
Taichi is trendy, but this ancient tradition is hard to reduce to Instagram models in cosplay Chinese tunics holding elegant poses. If you’d like real instruction in this ancient form of kungfu or other Chinese martial arts, try classes with the Milun Traditional Kungfu School. Physical activity has been shown to have huge positive impacts on mental health, and with public outdoor classes at Wangfujing Courtyard and Ritan Park almost every day of the week, there’s really no excuse not to give it a try. Students can begin lessons at any time, but be sure to wear athletic shoes and loose fitting clothing to class. Check their website for the complete list of times and locations. 36 Ganyu Hutong, Dongcheng District. 东城区甘雨胡同36. (138 1170 6568)
Home Yoga Beijing
Stretch those hamstrings and achieve inner light with the wholesome and thoughtful yoga practice provided by Yiyang’s Home Yoga. We feature yoga studios quite a bit in this magazine, but this teacher has recently caught our attention with an interesting selection of classes. With the intimate setting at Yiyang’s Dongcheng studio, the instruction is patient, and in English, befitting the name “Home Yoga.” In addition to classes for adults she also offers pre- and post-natal yoga for new and expecting moms, a unique class on yoga activities that can be used to reduce stress in the office, and classes for kids. She is conveniently located in the Dongzhimen area, and often hold classes at Café Zarah in Gulou. Follow her WeChat account (HomeYogaBeijing) for the complete class schedule and location details.
CHI, The Spa
If you really need to de-stress, consider a spa day. Treatments at CHI, The Spa at China World Summit Wing, Beijing draw their inspiration based on traditional Asian healing philosophies, using TCM treatments as well as hot stone, Shiatsu, and aromatherapy massages, with a variety of one-hour treatments and complete spa packages available. Sitting 77 floors above the hustle and bustle of Beijing’s CBD, we couldn’t imagine a better way to escape the stress of the workweek and indulge in a bit of self-care. The packages here are a bit high-end, but if you are on a budget we also recommend Dragonfly Spa and Hummingbird Spa, also located in the greater CBD area. Daily, noon-11pm. China World Summit Wing, 1 Jianguomenwai Avenue, Chaoyang District. 朝阳区中国北京建国门外大街1号. (6505 2299 ext. 6666)
This post appeared in the beijingkids October 2018 Mental Health issue.
Photo: Adobe Creative Cloud, courtesy of the featured establishments