The beautiful Himalayan salt cave at Peace, Love & Zen in East Liberty. Photo courtesy of Peace, Love & Zen.

Peace, Love & Zen Wellness Center
6023 Broad St., East Liberty
What they offer: a wide range of services, including infrared sauna, acupuncture, reiki, herbal medicine, massage, aromatherapy and much more, including a gorgeous Himalayan salt cave for halotherapy.

Just as I found at Revitalize Sewickley, I entered the waiting area at Peace, Love & Zen and felt more relaxed within seconds. The air is deliciously scented, the staff is friendly and the vibe is overwhelmingly positive.

The Himalayan pink salt cave is a strikingly beautiful space bathed in a soft glow, with tiny lights in the ceiling resembling a sky full of stars and comfortable zero gravity chairs for stretching out on.

This treatment is more subtle than some: Rather than offering the full-body warmth of an infrared sauna or the literal immersion of floating, a session in the salt cave is more of a quiet chance to relax.

I did emerge with my stuffy nose notably less congested. And the soft soundtrack of slowly lapping beach waves and quiet birdsong made it easy to slip into meditation and even imagine I was somewhere out in nature, far from the busy streets of East Liberty.

Cost for using the salt cave is $30 per 45-minute session. But prices drop if you buy a package of sessions or an unlimited membership for six months or a year.

Illume’s “wet pod” infrared steam treatment. Photo by Melissa Rayworth.

Illume Pittsburgh
222 Boulevard of the Allies, Downtown
What they offer: a huge range of wellness services, including yoga, meditation, a flotation tank, infrared sauna and more.

Illume is an expanded version of the popular yoga studio Exhale and it builds on Exhale’s history of promoting wellness in Pittsburgh.

Among the coolest new offerings is the Vibroacoustic Sound Lounge, a private room with an impossibly soft treatment bed that vibrates in time with audio frequencies played through a lightweight headset. Nestled under a weighted blanket, you hear instrumental music and sounds while the soft surface underneath you is channeling the same vibrations.

It’s a bit like riding along inside the dramatic soundtrack of a science fiction movie, as the otherworldly sounds and sensations envelop you.

Sessions last at least 30 minutes and can help with issues including anxiety and depression, lowering stress hormone levels or enhancing focus.

Another immersive treatment is Illume’s Cocoon Aqua IR Hydration Pro Pod (which they call “the wet pod”). It’s sort of a cross between the LightStim bed at Revitalize and the Infrared Sauna at Haute Sauna.

After undressing, you lie down inside what looks like a tiny rocketship and close a lid over your body. Your head is outside the pod (which helps if you’re at all claustrophobic), with cool air gently blowing on your face. Once you press the start button, infrared light and warm, vitamin-infused steam begin to hydrate your skin and relax your muscles.

The colors of light slowly change and the temperature rises to over 100 degrees. But with cool air on your face and moisture on your skin, you get a calming sensation of warmth rather than feeling like it’s a hot day at the beach. I remained feeling cooler than I did in the Haute Sauna pod.

And you get a measure of control: While inside the pod, you can reach a small touchscreen to adjust the temperature inside the pod and the speed of the air on your face.

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