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Wellness in Austin: From Timeless Traditions to Trending Technology

From classic to comtemporary, here are some favorite health-promoting activities in Austin

Breathwork at Bloom Yoga
Breathwork at Bloom Yoga (photo by Holly Cowart)

Austin is known and loved for its thriving wellness community. From timeless practices that have withstood decades to avant-garde wellness trends shaping the current city’s health landscape, Austin offers diverse options for those seeking holistic well-being. Whether you’re drawn to traditional health-giving practices or intrigued by the latest technological innovations, this city embraces a wellness ethos that caters to all. Here, we explore the classic and contemporary activities that make Austin a haven for those on a journey toward physical, mental, and spiritual balance.

Classic Austin Wellness

Barton Springs Pool
Barton Springs Pool (photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

1. Barton Springs Pool

The spring’s history dates back 12,000 years, throughout which the area was used as a reliable campsite by Native American tribes, with some allegedly using the water for purification rituals. Since the swimming area was dammed and constructed in the 1920s and officially opened in 1936, the pool has been a natural oasis for wellness enthusiasts of all ages. Fed by cool, crystal-clear spring waters that maintain a consistent temperature of around 68 degrees Fahrenheit, the pool has earned a reputation for its therapeutic and healing properties. Swimming in the refreshing water is a rejuvenating haven for both the body and the mind. 

Casa de Luz
Casa de Luz

2. Casa de Luz

Casa de Luz embodies a holistic approach to health and nourishment. Rooted in the belief that food is medicine, this establishment follows the principles of macrobiotics to create plant-based meals using seasonal, organic, and locally-sourced ingredients. Beyond the dining experience, Casa de Luz fosters a community-centered atmosphere by hosting events, workshops, and classes.

Acupuncture at Jade Seed Wellness (photo by Jenna Brooke Clark)

3. Acupuncture 

The history and evolution of acupuncture in Austin reflects the city’s openness to alternative healing practices. Over the years, acupuncture has transitioned from a niche treatment to a widely embraced modality for holistic health. In 1993, AOMA, now one of the leading acupuncture schools in the country, was founded as the Texas Acupuncture Institute, and the ancient wisdom of this traditional Chinese healing art continues to flourish.

Rock climbing on the Greenbelt (photo by Taylor Smith)

4. Rock Climbing on the Greenbelt

Rock climbing at the Barton Creek Greenbelt and along Bull Creek dates back to the 1970s, and climbers have a long history of stewarding these areas, understanding the balance between enjoying outdoor recreational activities and preserving natural habitats. The large limestone cliffs lining portions of the Greenbelt make for pristine climbing that’s remarkably accessible from downtown. Where people of all ages can enjoy climbing and bouldering.

Rowing on Lady Bird Lake – Austin Rowing Club (photo by James Oldeshulte)

5. Rowing on Lady Bird Lake

Since the 1800s, Austin has been well-known for its fine year-round rowing conditions. In fact, three international regattas were held on Lake Austin (then called Lake McDonald) from 1893 to 1895, drawing in thousands of people with the goal of showcasing Austin as a desirable place to live and work. The Austin Rowing Club was officially established in 1899, and rowing has grown in popularity as a local pastime and sport.

Yoga at Lizard Yoga (photo by Javi Gonzales)

6. Yoga

Yoga Yoga, one of the first studios in Texas, opened in Austin more than 25 years ago. Since then, hundreds of studios have opened up around the area offering a variety of classes and teaching styles. The abundant, high-quality yoga options in Austin are clearly here to stay. 

The Herb Bar (photo by Phil Leconte)

7. The Herb Bar

Since its opening in 1986, The Herb Bar has served as Austin’s beloved apothecary and metaphysical shop. Not only do they sell a variety of dried medicinal herbs, crystals, and natural body care products, they also offer consultations with herbal practitioners and community events. Tucked away just off South Congress on West Mary Street, the peaceful space is worth visiting when you need mind and body support. 

The Next Wave of Austin Wellness

Contrast therapy at Athlete Generator Lab (photo by Ty Reagan)

1. Contrast Therapy

Since its recent immersion as an effective recovery practice, the combination of saunas and cold plunges has taken the wellness scene by storm. Community centers that offer this practice — including Athlete Generator Lab, Kuya, and Lizard Yoga — have been popping up all over the city. They offer a clean and convenient way to get in your hot/cold therapy with like-minded masochists. After some real discomfort, you’ll leave with a new energy level after going through any of their recommended protocols that involve going back and forth from the sauna to the freezing cold plunge. 

IV Therapy (photo courtesy of IVitamin)

2. IV Therapy

While folks are still interested in eating nutrient-dense food, some are taking it up a notch with IV Vitamin Therapy, where you can get a potent dose of vitamins and minerals straight to your bloodstream. Many med spas now offer IV drips, making it a convenient add-on to other services. 

Lymphatic drainage at Sun Up Skin (photo by Sanetra Longno)

3. Lymphatic Drainage 

Lymphatic drainage is a form of massage that encourages the drainage of lymph nodes and the movement of lymph fluids around the body. It’s thought to detoxify and depuff and can be added to full-body massages and facials (some even dub it the nonsurgical facelift). While the idea is not new, it has recently gained popularity and is now available in many spas around Austin. 

Indoor climbing gym Crux (Photo by Merrick Ales)

4. Indoor Climbing Gyms

While some people prefer to rock climb outside, others enjoy the convenience and variety of the gym. Over the past decade, the Austin climbing community has sustained the successful opening of many new state-of-the-art gyms, including multiple locations for both Austin Bouldering Project and Crux. Most recently, in 2023, Mesa Rim opened and changed the Austin gym game, with over 200 sports routes that are the tallest in the Southwest. 

Standup Paddling (photo by Josh Garza)

5. Standup Paddling

In the 2000s, over 100 years after folks started rowing in Austin’s waters, standup paddling was brought from the coasts to our own city’s calmer waters as a recreational activity. Nowadays, you’ll often see more standup paddlers in Lady Bird Lake than rowers and canoers, enjoying the flexibility to move around solo — some even do yoga!

Breathwork (photo by Ashley Beall)

6. Breathwork

Using your breath to regulate the nervous system has recently become a more mainstream practice, and Austin wellness-lovers are all about it. Studios including Flowmagin, Lizard Yoga, and Kuya offer breathwork classes where an instructor guides you through various breathing techniques. 

Sans Bar (photo courtesy of Swift Fit Events)

7. Alcohol-free bars

The sober-curious movement is in full force, meaning businesses are starting to cater more toward non-drinkers with mocktails and zero-proof options. And now, you can go to entirely alcohol-free establishments. A Sans Bar pops up every Friday evening at Texas Wellness Oasis on Congress, and Dear Dry Drinkery aims to reimagine the non-alcoholic shopping experience with an extensive selection of non-alcoholic wines, beers, and functional beverages.