Hot Rocks and Soft Energy


New Center Offers Himalayan Salt Stone Massage

By Abbey J. Porter

I lay on my stomach on the massage table, eyes closed. I felt Zhanna’s hands glide along the muscles of my back, leaving a trail of heat as they went. Beneath that penetrating warmth, pockets of chronic pain melted away. I smiled.

I was having my first Himalayan salt stone massage at Ultimum Vitae Wellness, a new center at 264 Nassau St., Princeton. Zhanna Root is owner, operator, and therapeutic masseuse. The massage involves stroking the body with heated salt crystals, which look like smooth, orange-white stones about the size of baseballs.

The chief benefit of the technique is “definitely relaxation—very deep relaxation, on all levels,” says Root, a woman whose gentle voice and smile match her touch. “It’s good for everyone.”


Himalayan Salt Stone massage

Himalayan Salt Stone massage

‘A gentle way’

Root, who has been practicing massage for 10 years since graduating from the former Pennsylvania School of Massage (now Cortiva Institute), especially recommends salt stone massage for those who don’t like the pain that may accompany deep-tissue work. Through the salt stone technique, which she likens to a Swedish massage, clients can experience the release of muscular tension in a “nice, gentle way.”

As it turns out, I was a good candidate for salt stone massage. Though I’d previously undergone and enjoyed a deep-tissue massage from Zhanna, she suggested that I’d released “only maybe 5 percent” of my considerable muscular tension during that session. For some reason, my body was holding on to its tightness.

But I gave myself over to the long, smooth strokes of the salt stone massage, the sweet scent of coconut oil lingering in my nose, the soft rasp of the stone rubbing smoothly along my skin—so smoothly, in fact, that at first I didn’t even realize Zhanna held the crystal in her hand. When I peered at the stone as it moved up and down my arm, it looked like a round bar of soap, a bit darker than my beige skin. Wherever the heated crystals traveled on my body, I felt a drawing out of tension. I entered a dreamy state, and when I arose after the massage, I felt as if I had just awoken from a deep sleep.

Root uses dry heat to warm the stones—which, she notes, eventually wear out. “With each massage, a little bit of the stone is left on the skin. [Clients] do take some of it home.”

Besides providing relaxation, salt stone massages are also thought to reduce inflammation, improve sleep, and even improve nervous disorders. Himalayan salt is available for purchase at Ultimum Vitae Wellness in the form of bath crystals, lamps, and a variety of air-purifying products. Used in these forms, the salt is reported to have a purifying and energizing effect on the body, in part by balancing the relationship of negative and positive ions in the environment.

Himalayan salt is rock salt, or halite, usually mined in the Punjab region of Pakistan, not far from the Himalayas. It ranges in color from white to orange-pink and can be carved into an array of decorative figures: toadstools, eagles, dolphins. It is thought to be 250 million years old.
Himalayan Stone Salt Massage

Caring touch

Whatever type of massage she’s giving, Root exudes kindness and dedication. “I care,” she explains. It’s my nature. That’s why I love what I do so much. It’s not just what I do for a living. There’s a little bit of me in it.”

But Root does not believe that massage alone is enough to keep people healthy, which is her vision for the center’s role. That’s why she plans to work with personal trainers, nutritionists, and physical therapists—all so people are “healthy and happy and can enjoy life.”

For now, visitors to Ultimum Vitae Wellness have access to a range of therapeutic massages and spa services, along with salt crystal products and weekly meditation groups—all thanks to a woman who, like a salt stone massage, gives a bit of herself to each client.

For more information on Ultimum Vitae Wellness, visit or call (609) 269 4543.