By Todra Payne
Alternative health and wellness therapies are often viewed the same as organic food - reserved for those with higher amounts of expendable cash. But in all honesty, I’ll tell you, I’ve never had a “money to burn” lifestyle, but I’ve almost always found ways to include wellness therapies (a massage, an acupuncture treatment) into my budget. As someone who values my health and my looks, I am determined to set my priorities. Physical health, mental relaxation and spiritual renewal are non-negotiables in my life. Because I’m not rolling in cash, I’ve had to be, let’s say, “creative” in how I incorporate these. But with a little extra work, I’ve always been able to keep balanced and healthy. Here are a few tips to help you do the same.
Do an Internet search of various wellness therapies. I’ve looked into everything from Reiki to colonics to understand how each is designed to assist the body, mind and spirit. I also seek out videos on YouTube to learn what to expect from a session/class. If I’m seeking calmness and relaxation, a gentle aromatherapy massage will help me unwind from the week’s stress. If my mind feels muddled and unfocused, a Kundalini yoga session is in order. Understanding what you need is the first step to finding it.
Look for local practitioners who are offering discounts.
Obviously, the Internet is a great place to start your search for a Reflexologist or Meditation Coach, but don’t rule out other great sources, like your city’s free newspapers, health food stores and community boards. In my city, there are four free community newspapers that list cultural events, neighborhood happenings and small business offers. Many times these papers list special deals from alternative health practitioners, like a first session free code. Or a discount if you sign up for a certain number of sessions. Health food stores often have their own newspapers or email newsletter that feature sales from local natural health experts. I’ve even taken free wellness workshops at my local health food store. These give you the opportunity to try something first hand before making a larger financial commitment.
Call community centers, public libraries and massage schools to inquire about wellness programs/discounted sessions. Where I live (and in many cities), community centers offer acupuncture and yoga sessions priced on a sliding scale based on your income. In most cases, it’s on a trust system, too. There aren’t mounds of paperwork and embarrassing questions to answer about your household income. I’ve been able to say, “I can afford $12 for this class,” and that’s been good enough. Massage schools often offer one hour massages from $5-$25 (depending on the city and how fancy the school is) by senior level students who need to put in hours towards graduation. Don’t forget to tip. If you go this route, pop by the school first to look at the set up. Some schools have private massage rooms, while others put 15 massage tables to a room and work with males and females in one communal setting. It’s important to find a place that fits your comfort level.
Call fancy wellness studios and ask the owners about deals/discounts
This may not work with small, single person practices (say at a chiropractor’s office), but at studios where there are multiple classes or wellness sessions, it’s not farfetched. Down the street from my home, a very posh yoga center offers “pay what you can” classes taught by their newer yoga teachers. A regular class at this studio cost somewhere around $25 each. You can take a class with a new instructor for $5. Not bad. Even if a business doesn’t have a discount system in place, they will often offer a “first class for free” courtesy, especially if they’re offering something exotic or new to your area.
Sign up for online discount programs like Groupon and Living Social.
These programs can be wonderful for sampling all sorts of wellness programs. Recently I bought 20 pilates or yoga classes at a very nice local gym for $50, thanks to Living Social. These classes would normally cost $15 each. That’s a savings of $250. Not bad. I recently saw a colonics center offer a $35 session through Living Social. Colonics at full price run $75 - $150.
Check With Your Health Insurance Provider
It’s becoming more common for health insurance providers to offer a limited number of alternative health sessions under their regular policies. Some plans allow for pregnancy massages, others for chiropractor visits. The cost may be completely covered or require a small co-pay. So, read the fine print on your insurance policy. You never know.
The most important (and difficult) part of any health program is starting. But without worrying about price, you can have more confidence that it’s not out of your range. Give wellness therapies a try. I’m sure you’ll love them as much as I do.
If there’s someone you know who’d love to try a yoga session, or find a meditation coach, here’s a great gift
you can give to get them started.
Todra Payne is a green beauty and wellness educator and professional speaker. She’s also the founder of Healthy Beauty Social and Healthy Beauty Project. Look for her beauty articles in Kiwi Magazine.