In this crazy overloaded world we live in, we could probably all use a visit to Valley Spirit Cooperative & Wellness Center in Washington Depot. This is definitely a place for some good self-care. The studio is beautiful, the people welcoming, and the class and therapy offerings are diverse. Classes include meditation, Tai Chi & Qi Gong, and yoga, and therapy options include Chinese medical massages, acupuncture, cupping, and organic facials.
Valley Spirit opened last year and we’ve been eyeing it up on the occasions we’ve passed it. After we realized it wasn’t a liquor store, we were extra intrigued and couldn’t wait to go, “unlock” ’em!
Post sponsored by Valley Spirit
As Lora had never experienced acupuncture before and I (Bev) had never been “cupped”, this is what we signed up for! We would both meet with Jampa Stewart and of course, interrupt each other’s private session to snap a couple of pics. Here’s Lora with her acupuncture experience and me with my Chinese medical massage!
The acupuncture experience…
Lora here! Jampa started our session with an in-depth chat about my medical history, and any physical ailments I was having. I feel great almost all of the time, and not on any medications, but I did talk to him about my TMJ issues and how I tend to hold any stress in my jaw, e.g., clenching my teeth. He explained that he would place the acupuncture needles in multiple areas of my body. The needles are super thin, so I barely felt anything – in fact, I dozed off while he left the room and let the needles do their acupuncture magical thing! Afterwards, and for probably a week or so after, I felt great! No TMJ issues or pain. I’m definitely interested in going back again.
Kind of pretty, and rather odd to look at?!
As described, “Chinese manipulative therapy often used in conjunction with acupuncture, moxibustion, fire cupping, Chinese herbalism, t’ai chi and qigong.”
Before heading into the massage room, I completed an extensive intake questionnaire (yes I drink lots of water a day, no I do not drink more than 1 glass of wine a day) and then we spent some time individually with Jampa. You can use this time to pour out your soul, or just have a relaxed chat – he’s super open like that. In fact, I could hear a lot of laughing coming out of the room when Lora was in there.
The wellness center is about treating the body as a whole, not just one ailment at a time, hence the time to talk. But, I was feeling pretty ailment-free that day, so Jampa gave me a massage to get the energy moving in my meridians and my muscles. I didn’t know I had meridians until that point. The cupping would draw up any stagnant blood, which I apparently had a lot of in my lower back region. I was glad to get rid of it!
Treatments experienced, we checked out the rest of the studio which is lovely and bright. Slick and sophisticated, yet warm and soothing. There’s a shopping area in the front for all your natural wellness needs; teas, books, yoga paraphernalia, and jewelry, art, and gifts. Art from local artists is displayed throughout the center. The yoga space looks very zen and we hope to head back soon to take a class.
“Valley Spirit Cooperative is the shared studio space of three unique businesses with a common goal: to contribute to community by offering services, teachings, and products that support healing and growth while enhancing awareness, communication, good health, peace, and consciousness.”
Here’s Kristin Flagg Kunhardt – Vision Keeper/CEO
Was there a pivotal moment that you decided to open Valley Spirit or has it been on your mind for a long time?
Lee Kancher and I were talking about finding a design studio space to share back in November 2015. We enjoyed working side by side and getting out of our mutual “home offices”. The idea grew to include a place where Jampa Stewart could practice acupuncture and teach meditation and tai chi. By February 2016 I secured the space that has since become Valley Spirit. After seven months of renovations, we opened our doors in November 2016, almost a year to the day after the idea took root.
What was your vision/mission for Valley Spirit?
Our three unique businesses (Indigo Sky World, Right Brain Group, Healing Tao Institute) share a clear mission: to contribute to the community by offering services, teachings, and products that support healing and growth while enhancing awareness, communication, good health, peace, and consciousness. We are an art co-op and wellness center and a gathering place for conversation and community.
Jampa Stewart and Kristin Flagg Kunhardt
Valley Spirit is a cooperative – please explain.
The three of us opted to “cooperate” with one another in a single space, bringing together visual and performance art (Kristin), design and graphic art (Lee), and healing and movement arts (Jampa) so that we might all benefit from one another’s strengths and learn from one another’s weaknesses. The “all boats rise” mentality, which is often lacking in mainstream business, led the way. We decided to open up the space to other practitioners and artists that shared our mission, uniting to meet common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations.
If we all carry a small piece of the larger nut, we increase our capacity to serve the community and one another’s businesses. (Down the road we may also embrace the more traditional cooperative aspect of joint or shared ownership.)
You opened in November – what has been the response?
The response has been very positive and supportive. Many folks comment we are “just what the town needed”; that they are happy these classes and treatments are “right in their backyard”, that we are “ a gem just waiting for people to find us”. Many people who are coming in for treatments have had some very positive shifts in their health. Word on the street, I am told, is “all wonderful”.
How big has the “cooperative” become at this point?
As of now, we have six people teaching movement classes and eight people teaching or practicing healing arts. We have, to date, featured the art of ten local artists.
What did you do before Valley Spirit?
Lee had, and still has, his graphic design company Right Brain Group in Philadelphia. He has a background in shiatsu massage, also. Jampa had a successful acupuncture practice and teaching schedule based in Austin, Texas and Crestone, CO. Prior to that, he had a successful bookstore in Rochester NY. I was running my own dog walking company outside Philadelphia for the last twenty years. Before that, I was a touring musician and involved in theater.
What’s trending? What class/service seems to be the most popular?
The acupuncture and massage practices have been growing quite steadily, as have the classes. We listen attentively to the folks that walk through our door and add classes they want at times they want them. So truly, all of our services have an even growth pattern at the moment, because we continue to evolve as we receive feedback.
You have a lot of beautiful photographs of your trips to Iceland in the studio. What is your connection to Iceland?
I visited Iceland three years ago, twice. It is rich in its primordial power. The fire, ice, sea, wind, sun, steam. Rugged, breathtaking country. I was there during a period of great personal transition; it was right before I decided to move back to Washington, my hometown. Iceland allowed me to clear my head and heart so I could find my true North. It became clear that that was being back home near my dad. Valley Spirit grew out of the stability my hometown afforded me when I was a child. 35 years later, I am here to give back to that hometown, with the talents and gifts of healing that Valley Spirit has to offer. Roots run deep. It is good to be home.
Valley Spirit offers lots of interesting workshops and First Fridays in the Depot. Check their calendar for details!
6 Green Hill Rd. Washington Depot CT
Photos: Lora/Words: Bev
This article has been sponsored