Palm trees towering above streets lined with sprawling 20 million dollar mansions, slick Hollywood producers throwing parties for forever-young starlets in the Hills, and reality stars getting chased down Sunset Boulevard by a trail of paparazzi.
That’s what most people imagine when they think of Los Angeles. At least, that’s the version shown on TV. But far from being just the entertainment capital of the world, those of us who live here know that LA is actually the spiritual hub of the United States.
Whatever takes off in LA spreads throughout the country and eventually the world. With its cutting-edge health and wellness services, innovative nutrition and fitness routines, and personal spiritual development sanctuaries, the City of Angels is one of the world’s best-kept spirit and health secrets: a hotspot overflowing with endless possibilities for the curious seeker, right outside their front door. Here’s a native Angelino’s guide to creating an urban spiritual retreat in LA.
The Springs in Downtown LA offers ‘the works’. Brand new on the scene and stationed in a gorgeous open-air loft space in Downtown’s funky Arts District, The Springs is the ultimate one-stop-shop for all things health and wellness. De-stress and detox in the wellness centre, which offers massages and treatments with an emphasis on healing. Move, stretch, and tune inward with yoga classes that run all day, including free meditation every weekday afternoon. Follow it all up with a cold-pressed organic juice or smoothie at the juice bar to be nourished from the inside out. Speaking of nourishment…The Springs’ restaurant is a culinary experience to ignite all senses. Beautifully presented and artfully prepared, each item on the menu is a true taste sensation. This is sophisticated modern fare at its finest and it also happens to be 100% organic, raw, vegan, and gluten-free. One cannot go wrong with anything on the menu, which changes seasonally. Portions are generous so everyone walks away thoroughly satisfied. Foodies should make the most of their experience by trying the new Chef’s Tasting Menu from chef Michael Falso, which offers a 5-course sampling of his favourites. Thoughtfully curated sake cocktails, organic wine and beer are available at the bar and are the perfect way to wrap up a day of cultivating inner peace. Menu items range from US$9-$23, cocktails start at US$9 and Chef’s Tasting Menu is US$59 per person.
608 Mateo St, Los Angeles, CA 90021
The Juice Box
What happens when LA’s food truck craze is combined with its love for all things juicing? Mobile juice trucks that can bring the juice to us! The Juice Box is a staple along Abbot Kinney Blvd in the hip and healthy shopping district of Venice Beach. Though there are plenty of juice spots in town, The Juice Box juices stand out above the rest every time. Their secret? Like master cocktail mixologists, the Juice Box artisans craft each juice with specific measurements to ensure consistent flavour, with depths and tones that make a mouth want to sing with joy. Shaking the juice over ice before serving ensures that it quenches deep down into the soul. The Beet Box and Mojito Box are great for beginners, while the Kale Box is a must for the seasoned juicer. Cold-pressed bottled juices are launching Spring 2015 and will include a home delivery service for those who truly want front-door service.
The Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine
The Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades is the ultimate destination for reflection, introspection and deep spiritual wisdom seeking. Founded by Paramahansa Yogananda, the original yogi to bring meditation from the East to the West in the 1920s, the Lake Shrine boasts sprawling green garden meditation nooks around a peaceful waterfall-fed lake. Stop in at the Windmill Chapel to recharge the soul or sit on a bench in the sun and watch the swans leisurely glide by while breathing in the nearby ocean air. The bookshop offers reading material for spiritual insights as well as Indian-inspired trinkets and treasures. The Self Realization Fellowship is a spiritual centre based around the principles of Kriya Yoga and is inclusive of every religious tradition. Regular talks, services and meditation classes are available in the main temple throughout the week. Afterwards, sticking toes in the Pacific Ocean at the end of the boulevard provides another kind of spiritual experience.
17190 Sunset Blvd, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Tao of Venus
Tao of Venus is a healing sanctuary in the heart of Silverlake and the focus here is on real health, providing services both for those who are just wanting to maintain theirs and those for whom it has become critical to do so. They offer a wide variety of acupuncture, massage, and spa services, as well as hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Heralded for its restorative and rejuvenating health benefits, the hyperbaric chamber can be used to assist in treatment of everything from migraines and depression to neurological disorders. They provide all that’s needed to ensure visitors feel comfortable and relaxed, with an attendant present at all times to monitor air pressure. Multiple treatments are recommended for maximum healing results, though clients will leave relaxed, energized and laser-focused after just one session. Tao of Venus also specializes in women’s health and fertility, offering alternative therapies for everything under the female-related sun.
3037 W. Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026
Thousands of people lament that they would love to learn how to meditate but just don’t have the time. Unplug in Brentwood has the solution. Launched just last year and bearing the distinction of being LA’s first meditation-only studio, Unplug offers 30-45 min drop-in classes throughout the day, making meditation easily and readily available to the person on the go. Serenely designed, one feels a deep sense of inner peace just by walking through the doors. Mindfulness, mantra, breath and guided meditation classes are offered all day, every day, with special workshops available on weekends.
12401 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 101, Los Angeles CA 90025
The Sweat Spot
If our body is a temple, then we should be sure to treat it right by taking it out to The Sweat Spot in Silverlake for a dance experience unlike any other. Refreshing for its come-one, come-all community feeling, The Sweat Spot offers classes that are good old-fashioned fun, to get the soul dancing along with the feet. Rock the Barre classes turn ballet on its head, becoming a moving ballet barre meditation set to rock music. Live DJs bring the house-party factor to Hip Hop classes, while Sweaty Sundays and Sweaty Slow Jams let both the inner and outer dancer come out to play.
3327 Sunset Blvd, Silverlake, CA 90026
House of Intuition & Echo Foot Lounge
Every town needs its go-to destination for metaphysical exploration. House of Intuition in Silverlake offers every metaphysical service we could hope for, ranging from clairvoyant sessions and tarot readers to reiki and middle pillar healers. Stock up on tarot cards, energy healing books and power crystals in the shop. The Temple of Intuition downstairs holds classes to develop spiritual skill sets, alongside healing treatments like the Crystal Sonic Meditation sound bath. Playing large crystal bowls of different sizes that align with each of the seven chakras, the vibrations of the bowls move like waves through the body to lull participants into a deeply relaxed state unlike anything else. An added bonus: House of Intuition’s sister centre across the street, Echo Foot Lounge, offers communal reflexology foot and body massages by experienced reiki healers that rival the best of the fancy spa massages, at a fraction of the price.
House of Intuition 2237 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90026
Echo Foot Lounge 2148 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90026
A dazzling personal light show combined with the most relaxing meditation of our life…all set inside our own mind. That’s the best way to describe the experience that Enlighten has to offer with their portable Lucia light machine, delivered to customers in the comfort of their own home. Done either lying down or sitting up, eyes closed, relaxing music playing, the little pulsating white lights work their higher-consciousness-inducing magic, helping us reach a deep meditative state without having to ‘do’ anything. Menu choices for light settings provide different experiences, from relaxing to stimulating, depending on preference. “Number 4: New Start” is a deeply restorative delicious dream. Enlighten also provide guided light coaching sessions for those who want to take their inner development work even further. For those who have never been able to reach a deep meditative state on their own, this is just the ticket to get them there.
The Breath Circle
Breath is the basis of all life, so they say. Both scientists and spiritualists tout the importance of our breath in maintaining total mind, body and soul health. So it makes perfect sense that breathing techniques would be coming to the forefront of health and wellness. A completely unique experience, The Breath Circle combines shamanic and tantric-based breath work, using kundalini energy to unlock energetic blocks throughout the rest of the body. Done in a circle with other participants, one can choose how gentle or dynamic, personal or communal they want to go. No matter what, we definitely leave feeling more energized and filled with life, as we allow more of our own energy to flow out and through us.
Alphabiotics Los Angeles, 2551 Walnut Ave, Venice, CA 90291
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