There are times when all of us get stressed out and need a little tender loving care and the good thing is that there are lots of easy, cheap ways to have some alternative therapy in Hanoi.
Due to the geographical location next to China, the vast majority of the therapies on offer are Chinese based -so these are the types of therapy that you will find locally. There are other more Western types of therapy – such as counselling and NLP(neuro linguistic programming ) ; however these are usually only offered by qualified expats who are living in Vietnam. As a result, instead of being priced at a Vietnamese level, the costs are comparable to prices in the West making it seem incredibly expensive for people living in Vietnam ( and getting a Vietnamese salary !)
On the other hand, the local Chinese style medicine therapies are incredibly affordable and well worth checking out – you don’t need to have a specific problem to go and visit – you may simply feel tired or stressed or just feel in need of a little boost!
The two most common forms of alternative therapy are yoga and massage – these can be found throughout Vietnam and are simple and easy to find. More specific kinds of therapy freely available in Vietnam are :
To many in the West, the thought of sticking lots of needles into your body for fun seems a contraction in terms. However, acupuncture does not hurt at all and is in fact very relaxing!
There are two main places for acupuncture in Hanoi – Yakushi Centre and Zenith Yoga. Both of these are located in Tay Ho ( which is the ex-pat area of the city and located about 15 minutes from the old quarter )
Both of these locations are not easy to find so be sure to look them up well before trying to find them! Yakushi Centre is down a tiny alleyway off the main road and you may be put off when you get there as it all looks quite old. However, it is more rustic rather than old and it is very clean and friendly once you get inside!
Zenith yoga is also located down an alley from the main road however it is a much bigger building so easier to find – it is located in a new building on the first floor.
For acupuncture, there is a need to be undressed to your underwear ( you will be given a blanket to cover yourself up ! ) and initially, the practitioner will check your Chi ( internal energy ) by looking at your tongue and feeling your wrists/ankles etc
There is no need to converse – all the practitioner will need is the reason why you have come e.g. due to stress/pain in the knee etc.
Instead, you simply lie there and they will carefully put the needles in ( which is painless ) and you just relax!
An acupuncture session will typically last between forty-five minutes to an hour.
This is basically acupuncture without the needles! If you like the idea of acupuncture but really don’t like needles then this is the best option for you.
Acupressure works by applying pressure to the meridian lines to stop energy blockages. There is no need for you to know anything about this, however- you simply lie down and the practitioner will apply pressure ( by pressing with their hand ) to various points.
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This is something that is becoming more popular in the West and during the Olympics etc you may have noticed people with round circles on their backs from the cupping process! The idea behind cupping is that the heat and pressure brings out the impurities in your body and cleanses it.
As with acupuncture, you have cupping without clothes ( only underwear ) Cupping occurs only on your back and you simply lie down and the practitioner heats up small glass containers which are suctioned onto your skin. These feel warm and are totally painless.
When the glass container ( cup ) is removed it makes a loud sucking noise, however, it is a noise only and you feel nothing.
For some people the cupping process may leave round red marks on your back ( which fade within a couple of days ) however for others there will be no marks at all – it just depends on your skin and how long the cupping is left on.
Cupping can be given as a separate treatment or combined with acupuncture – and is available at Yakushi Centre in Hanoi.
Reiki is a Chinese healing method in which the practitioner uses energy to unlock the meridian lines and make the Chi ( the life energy force ) flow around your body – which makes you feel physically and emotionally better!
One of the advantages of Reiki is that this is carried out fully clothed – so great if you are not really sure about these alternative practices and feel too exposed without your clothes. In addition, it is a contact free practise – so great if you don’t really like being touched.
Reiki is available at Zenith Yoga and typically takes an hour.
Sound healing may initially seem a little strange – to be lying down whilst someone bangs a gong over you – however, once you try it you will find it incredibly relaxing. As with all of the Chinese alternative practises, the purpose is to align your body and allow the flow of Chi ( life energy force )
As with Reiki, sound healing takes place fully clothed – you simply lie down and the practitioner will have different-sized metal bowls which are “ played “ to align you. There is no need to discuss anything – instead, the practitioner will target the areas which are needed.
Sound healing is available at Zenith yoga in Hanoi and shortly classes will be available at New Manta Yoga and retreat ( which is located on Walking Street – just up from Tay Ho – and about 20 minutes from the old quarter )
Although meditation is popular, it is very hard to find meditation classes in English, with most of the meditation classes being in Vietnamese.
Overall, although alternative therapy in the West can be super expensive and thus typically used when you have a specific problem and traditional medicine is not working for you, in Vietnam with very affordable prices, it is easy to experiment with these types of healing. Even if nothing happens during your treatment, at least it is an experience and who knows – you may have an amazing experience and become a holistic medicine addict!