Some might say I’m a bit of a stress case. It seems to work for me—I’ve never quite understood how the other half (the relaxed set) functions. How do they get anything done? But after all I’ve heard lately about stress hormones affecting everything from blood pressure to depression, I figured it was time to bat for the other team and get some mellow vibes flowing.
Azura Studio (pronounced ah-sure-ay) is a full-service salon located in downtown Bend. Opened in August by Rabbine Harpell, Azura not only offers traditional salon services but also more alternative forms of therapy. In Rabbine’s arsenal are Russian space-age energy healing devices, an oxygen bar, Japanese oxygenation machines and infrared massage chairs. Originally from New Jersey, Harpell is a former OR Nurse and owner of the local PR firm Jubilee Productions. She has studied many forms of alternative therapies including bioenergetics and Qigong.
Rabbine greets me at the front desk of Azura and shows me around what she calls her “22nd Century Self Healing Center.” After taking me on a tour of the standard beauty offerings—hair care, massage, waxing—I enter into a room with a strange rocking chair, hand-held lasers and some sort of oscillating foot rest.
Harpell had been planning on opening a more formal medical practice but decided instead to take the salon industry to the next level. She wanted to open a salon that was constantly evolving to people’s needs; a place where locals could just walk in and feel welcome.
“The doors are always open,” Harpell says. Azura also provides alternative, less- expensive therapies for those without health insurance or who want to try a different approach to wellness.
“You come in to take care of yourself,” Rabbine says. “Everything’s available all the time for everyone.” In addition, most of her therapies are offered for $1 per minute. She stresses the importance of focusing on body health as it relates to mental health.
My skepticisms are slowly being broken down, especially as the soothing music and joyful yet calm atmosphere starts to sink in. Stress, my old friend? Are you leaving me? It’s time to try some of these contraptions.
One of the futuristic machines offered for a buck a minute is the Chi Machine. Created in Japan, the Chi Machine moves your feet rapidly back and forth as you lie down, causing the rest of your body to osculate like a fish. Rabbine says that in 15 minutes, the Chi machine oxygenates your body as much as a 90-minute run. As a runner, I was highly skeptical, but after just 10 minutes on the Chi machine, I had a fullon runner’s high.
Possibly the most soothing option of all is Rabbine’s anti-gravity chair. This leather rocker simulates the feeling of being in the womb—which, theoretically, causes your body to remember this ultimate state of neutrality. I don’t know what my body remembered, but it definitely felt awesome. I have not been that relaxed, well, since I can remember. Since being in the womb, perhaps? These are thoughts that I’m not sure I’m ready to deal with, but if I sit in the anti-gravity chair again, being slowly rocked by Harpell while she listens to my problems, perhaps I can manage. $100 an hour therapy bills, goodbye. I’ve got a $1 per minute anti-gravity womb waiting for me.