The boutique wellness trend knows no bounds. We’ve seen everything from boutique indoor cycling to boutique boxing to boutique squash. Now there’s boutique meditation.
It was only a matter of time before the trend crept down the coast from New York City, where the meditation studios Mndfl and Inscape opened in 2015 and 2016, respectively, following the West Coast trendsetter, Unplug Meditation, which launched in Los Angeles in 2014. Given that DC’s studios started appearing in Washington right around the close of the 2016 election, it seems that local boutique owners have hit the timing right—opening just as a stressed-out Washington is seeking relief.
No matter your motivation for giving it a try, these new boutiques are open for beginners and experienced meditators alike. Here’s how they stack up.
1445 New York Ave., NW; 844-334-6627; recharj.com
Ambience: Like glamping. The floor is covered in artificial turf; the walls are draped in white cloth, with the exception of a bark-covered accent wall; and soothing blue lighting shines from above. Because it’s in the windowless center of an office building, it’s blissfully quiet.
Little extras: A free tea station and a corner with lotions, succulents, and T-shirts for sale.
Class I tried: Mindfulness, which “teaches techniques and methods for systematically developing awareness.” Also on the menu: Sound Bath Immersion, Visualization, Movement, Deep Rest, Breath, Mantra, and more.
The experience: I settled into a comfortable position on floor cushions. The instructor struck a gong, then led the class of three through a roughly 15-minute session, directing us to focus on breathing and different parts of the body—such as the space between where the palms of our hands rested on our legs. There weren’t many moments of silence—the instructor kept up a continuous stream of directions. I found this ideal as a beginner because the instructions helped keep my mind from wandering. After the first 15 minutes, the instructor rang the gong, briefly discussed the experience with us, then led us through a second 15-minute meditation.
Exercise to steal: Count the beats as you breathe in, then breathe out to twice as many beats as you inhaled.
How I felt after: Relaxed, rested, and energized.
Price: $15 for a single class.
Take Five Meditation
1803 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-588-5198; takefivemeditation.com
Ambience: Like a salon. The marble countertop on the front desk and the light-wood accent wall in the lounge area help make the space feel a little more luxurious. The classroom itself is fairly blank—bare walls and gray carpeting—with the exception of a large gong. A big window overlooks the street, but the shades were drawn.
Little extras: A free tea station and a bookshelf with journals for sale.
Class I tried: Mantra, which is “a form of vibrational healing that works from the inside out.” Also on the menu: Chi; Crystal Bowl; Mindfulness; Moving; Creating Joy; Clarity, Connection and Purpose; Relax and Replenish; and more.
The experience: After settling in with as many cushions as it took to get cozy, we learned about different mudras—ways to position your hands—and mantras that can be used during meditation. This class, with four participants, was a bit more instructional than the other two and focused more on teaching than on doing. The mantras we practiced were the Sanskrit words lam and vam, which, when repeat-ed aloud, create certain vibrations in the lips and down the spine that we were told to focus on.
Exercise to steal: Repeat vam aloud and feel how the vibrations move through you.
How I felt after: A little less tense than before class, but the session itself wasn’t particularly relaxing because it required more engagement.
Price: $15 for your first class.
4928 St. Elmo Ave., Bethesda; 301-312-8080; justmeditate.studio
Ambience: Like a school. Cubbies near the door and a long hallway with two classrooms labeled Studio 1 and Studio 2 in blue block letters lent a bit of a kindergarten feel. Inside the studio were mats with floor chairs in rows, further adding to the classroom vibe. (The legless seats have backs, for those who can’t handle sitting unsupported on a cushion for 30 minutes.) One big downside to the space was the creaky wood floor and thin walls—when someone walked down the hall, you could hear every step.
Little extra: A cooler with cups for water.
Class I tried: Just Enough, an abbreviated version of the 45-minute Just Meditate class, which is a “mash-up of modalities such as breath, body scan, compassion, and mindfulness.” Also on the menu: Just Breathe, Just Mindful, Just Word, Just You, and Just Kids.
The experience: This class had less instruction than the other two, so it might be good for those who have more experience and can stay focused throughout one 30-minute session. The instructions, when they came, primarily addressed breathing. One exercise involved focusing on the top of the spine where it meets the skull and trying to feel all the way down the vertebrae. A hand-held chime was used to start and end the class, and each participant—three in all—had the chance to strike it before the session concluded.
Exercise to steal: Ring a gong or bell, then try to keep the tone in your ear for as long as possible after it’s faded away.
How I felt after: Calm and happy.
Price: $22 for a single class.