A Dose of Salt Air

Nelsonville salon offers ‘recharging’ room

By Alison Rooney

The bracing yet soothing properties of sea air have been part of rest cures and unwinding for centuries.

Now, you don’t have to drive to the ocean to partake — it’s in Nelsonville at Hudson River Healing & Wellness, a new spa that includes a salt room, sometimes called a salt cave or grotto.

Tara Sweet-Flagler (Photo by A. Rooney)

The spa’s owner, Tara Sweet-Flagler, is eager to tell people about it. “There are natural caves around the world from which salt is drawn,” she explains. “There are qualities in this salt which are used for wellness activities.”

Sweet-Flagler, who, over the past 20 years, began and developed the exercise physiology program at Dutchess Community College (where she still teaches), says alternative healing practices such as yoga, meditation and salt air have improved her own life over the past five years as she struggled with fibromyalgia and chronic pain.

“I felt so depressed — it was, ‘why can’t I move?’” she recalls. “I tried meditation class, then healing techniques, Qi Gong, cupping, others. I became exposed to all of these methods.” Nevertheless, her own experience aside, “this isn’t just for people who are ill; in fact, it should be part of a wellness routine.”

Turning 50, as she did not long ago, was a galvanizing moment for the Cold Spring native (she’s a 1987 Haldane grad), who decided she wanted to overcome her fear of owning a business. “This is something I’ve thought about for a long time,” she says. “There are so many things I want to share with this community. I’m still working on the list of too nervous to try: I took a hot-air balloon ride, but I still want to paddleboard and to skydive.”

Sweet-Flagler’s small space on Nelsonville’s commercial stretch is dominated by its salt room, which is a cloistered chamber of Himalayan salt blocks illuminated by crystal lamps. The floor is covered with crushed salt that resembles sand (shoes must be removed but there are no other clothing restrictions). Customers can opt to relax on a zero-gravity chair, on pillows resting on the crushed salt, or in the salt. The temperature is maintained at 68 to 70 degrees with 40 to 50 percent humidity. There is calming background music and deep breathing is encouraged.

Clients can use a zero-gravity chair.

The room is large enough for small groups, including several that meet weekly. There’s a Thursday morning meditation and a Monday afternoon children’s play group in which toddlers can play in the salt while caregivers relax. Therapy sessions such as massage, reflexology, acupuncture, reiki, Thai bodywork and crystal healing treatments can also be booked.

The balance of the space is dedicated to retail products, including many cannabidiol (CBD) items. “I keep hearing back from people who are trying them that they’re great for sleep issues, anxiety and for pain,” says Sweet-Flagler. The spa holds a CBD happy hour on Fridays at 6 p.m., which begins with a CBD treat and ends with a cup of CBD tea.

Hudson River Healing & Wellness is located at 290 Main St. A 45-minute salt-room session is $35. For more information, visit hrhealingwellness.com or call 845-240-1822.