Tried-And-Tested: Ganbanyoku Hot Stone Therapy Relieves Aches And Helps You Detox

by Dawn Chen
HEALTH  |  February 02, 2018
  • What’s the deal with ganbanyoku (Japanese “rock bathing”)?
    1 / 9 What’s the deal with ganbanyoku (Japanese “rock bathing”)?

    The first time I heard of ganbanyoku – known as “rock bathing” in Japanese – I had no idea what to expect. I couldn’t help but think that it sounded pretty far out. In a gist, ganbanyoku is a treatment where you lie on volcanic stone slabs that have been heated to 45 deg C. The rocks are then said to release far infrared rays (FIR) and negative ions to help boost the release of toxins from the body through perspiration. FIRs do not contain UV rays and are very safe, offering a whole host of benefits that include improving blood circulation, aiding detox, easing pains, increasing metabolism and regulating digestion. As someone who frequently has shoulder aches and a weak gut, I was game to give this a shot. No harm trying, right?

    Associate editor Estelle and I went for a session together recently. Scroll through to get a glimpse of what ganbanyoku is like so you’ll know what to expect.

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  • The right attire
    2 / 9 The right attire

    When you first arrive, you’ll have to change into one of the provided tops and bottoms for the treatment. You’re expected to strip down (no undies or bras) for maximum efficacy. If you’re uncomfortable with that, you’re allowed to wear your undies underneath but do bring a spare pair to change into after the treatment since you’ll likely be pretty sweaty. And no, disposable underwear is not provided.

    Each person will also be given two towels – one big and one small. You can either use these towels to wipe down after the treatment or lie on them during the hot stone therapy if the heat becomes unbearable.

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  • Store your belongings away
    3 / 9 Store your belongings away

    Lockers are provided so that you can safely stow away your things. You’re allowed to bring your handphone into the treatment room.

    (Also Read: 8 Easy Ways to Detox Your Mind and Body For a Healthier, Happier You)

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  • Prepping for ganbanyoku
    4 / 9 Prepping for ganbanyoku

    Before entering the room, you’ll be given a cup of water to drink. Due to the heat, you’ll lose a lot of water during the treatment so it’s normal to feel thirsty. The key is to stay hydrated throughout. You’re also allowed to bring in a cup of water (all provided and refillable).

    Inside the treatment room, the ambient temperature is comfortably warm. The heat is nowhere near that of a sauna or steam room, so don’t worry. The ganbanyoku stones are maintained at roughly 45 deg C and they’re comfortable to sit on. When you first step on the hot stone slabs, it’s advisable to warm your extremities first (by placing your feet and palms flat on the stones).

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  • Warm your back
    5 / 9 Warm your back

    Once you’re ready, you can start to slowly lower your body and lie flat on the hot stones. There is a little pillow provided to support your head. Alternatively, you may also roll up your towel and use it as a pillow.

    It’s recommended that you stay in one position (e.g. lie flat on your back) for roughly 10 minutes before moving on to the next position. Somehow, as time goes by, the stones start feeling a little bit hotter and I jump when my bare skin touches the slab. The heat also feels more intense in different areas for Estelle and I. I have trouble letting my elbows rest on the stones but Estelle has no problems doing so. That said, the heat definitely helps to soothe tight and achy muscles.

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  • Warm your tummy
    6 / 9 Warm your tummy

    After spending 10 minutes on our backs, we flip over to warm our abdomens. This is actually the most comfortable position for me as I frequently have gut issues. The heat from the stones warms my tummy. It kind of feels as though I have a giant hot water bottle draped across my belly. The only problem? The stones feel really hot again and Estelle and I can’t seem to rest our thighs fully. After a few minutes, I place a towel underneath my lower body so that I can relax my legs. Much better.

    (Also Read: Tried-and-Tested Facials: 10 Facials in Singapore to Give You Glowing Skin)

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  • Warm your sides
    7 / 9 Warm your sides

    It’s also recommended that you spend some time lying on your sides to target the lymph nodes in your armpit area. Lymph nodes help to filter and drain out toxins from your body and stimulating them is supposed to help speed up this process (lymphatic drainage massages, anyone?).

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  • Post-ganbanyoku
    8 / 9 Post-ganbanyoku

    After the treatment, my body was covered in a light layer of perspiration. I left the room feeling very relaxed – and very hungry. Not sure if ganbanyoku had anything to do with it.

    Over the next few days, I noticed that my hands weren’t as cold anymore (they used to turn icy in the office). Not too sure if this is a sign of improved blood circulation but I’ll take it. The morning after ganbanyoku, both Estelle and I also had no problems emptying our bowels (normal for me but very unusual for her). Perhaps there’s some truth in the detoxing bit.

    While there’s no scientific way of knowing for sure how effective it was, ganbanyoku was definitely a comfortable treatment. Perhaps the most immediate benefit is the rosy glow you get once you come out of the heated room. Skin will feel noticeably softer too.

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  • Last thoughts
    9 / 9 Last thoughts

    Give ganbanyoku a try if you’re curious. There aren’t any negative side effects, plus the feeling of lying down on a heated ‘bed’ is quite shiok. Ganbanyoku is also great for relieving muscle aches and pains. At just $20 per session, hot stone therapy is pretty affordable and at the very least, you’ll leave the session feeling more relaxed!

    Ganbanyoku is available at #02-29 Far East Plaza (14 Scotts Road). It opens from 10am to 9pm daily.

    (Also Read: TRUE STORY: “I Lost 15kg in 6 Months With The Help of These Apps And Fitness Trackers.”)

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