The Day I Drove 45 minutes to Get Beaten with a Hammer
I feel it’s Zenzista’s responsibility to try out all of the out-there approaches to relaxation and test them so you don’t have to. A couple weeks ago, I was researching zen things to do while I was in Austin when I stumbled upon a treatment called Manaka Tapping at the Lake Austin Spa Resort, where someone hammers you with a wooden peg, and I thought to myself, “In the name of research, let’s do it.”
What I ended up finding wasn’t just a deeply relaxing and rejuvenating spa treatment but also THE MOST ZEN PLACE IN AUSTIN. Let’s start there.
The Lakehouse Spa at the Lake Austin Spa Resort
This is a hidden gem about 45 minutes outside the city. I went a little early before my treatment to enjoy the day and scope out the scene. It’s a quaint, somewhat casual spa set to the backdrop of beautiful Lake Austin. It may not be very fancy, but there are darling scenes set up everywhere you look, and the staff is made up of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. It’s perfect for a day trip or a couple’s getaway for a night or two.
The women’s locker room has a a sauna, steam room, indoor pool and private sun deck with buckets of icy, lavender-soaked towels strewn about.
You can walk out to the shared outdoor pool or another beautifully-crafted indoor pool, and just steps from there is the lake.
I am still daydreaming about this hammock. It’s like a meditation in itself.
I went during the week on a Wednesday and it was so quiet, I essentially had the outdoor pool to myself.
The on-site restaurant, Aster Cafe, is quite delicious. I had the Power Bowl Salad made with raw veggies, chickpeas, soy beans, dried nuts, dried fruits, goat cheese, pomegranate vinaigrette and grilled chicken, and I evened out my healthy selection with a nice, crisp glass of rosé.
(One thing I will say - drinking a big glass of rosé prior to Manaka Tapping is probably not recommended. Live and learn.)
One day definitely wasn’t long enough; the resort itself offers garden fresh cooking classes, aromatherapy workshops, astronomy and painting classes, yoga classes set to live music, candlelight meditations, paddleboard yoga and “forest bathing” hikes.
When it was time for my treatment, I headed up to the “Blue Room”, or the cozy waiting area that’s decked out with comfortable chairs where you can put your feet up, coloring books and magazines, tea, and a screened in porch overlooking the pool.
Aaron is the acupuncture expert there, and the treatment ended up being a mix of acupuncture, hari (a non-invasive form of applied pressure with a 14K gold instrument called a teishin) and Manaka Tapping. He would have finished with cupping to for more direct blood flow too, but I had too much pool time coming up and frankly didn’t want to scare my 4-year-old niece by having bruises all over my back, so I decided to pass on that.
Manaka tapping is like acupuncture but non-invasive (no needles used). As I laid on my stomach, Aaron played a percussive beat from a speaker and rhythmically rapped along my back and neck with a wooden hammer and peg. It didn’t hurt at all but rather put me in a deeply relaxing, almost meditative state. The way it works is that it triggers acupoints to relieve muscle tension. I found it to be highly restorative and left feeling a lot looser than when I walked in.
WARNING: You are probably going to want to take a nap afterwards. Plan it earlier in the day so you can lounge at the pool or in the steam room after.
If you’re looking for ultimate bliss and relaxation, you may want to stick with a massage, but if you have tired, stiff joints like me and are open to trying something new, Aaron is your guy!