Disclosure: I received my services free of charge through ORA’s PR agency. However, they did not ask me to write this review, nor did they tell me what to say about ORA. I paid for everything outside of the main service myself (i.e. cafe and shop purchases). All opinions are my own.
I have always wondered about acupuncture. Does it work? Does it hurt? Is it just one of those “woo woo” fads?
So, when I was invited to check out ORA, a holistic wellness space that specializes in acupuncture, I didn’t think twice when saying “yes.” (A few days later, one of my favorite wellness influencers, Melissa Wood Tepperberg, posted from ORA—I’d be lying if I said that didn’t influence me even further.) ORA has locations on the Upper East Side, NoHo, and the Hamptons, and has been featured in Vogue, WWD, Harper’s Bazaar and more. According to ORA, acupuncture can help with pain, sexual health, digestion, immunity, mental and emotional health, and so much more.
The idea behind ORA is to take traditional Chinese medicine and make it modern. And when I walked into the UES location, “modern” is exactly what I got. The space is stunning! It’s chic and upscale while remaining relaxing and inviting. Think: shades of blue and gray, reflective surfaces, lush greenery, and motivating messages. Instagramable yet not in-your-face.
I was greeted by the sweetest receptionist and offered water at my choice of temperature—ok VIP! After filling out a medical intake form that delved into my health history and what I hoped to address, I was brought to my private treatment room. This is where the real magic started.
I was asked what temperature I wanted the room, which to a girl that’s always cold is basically a love language. Of course I chose near-tropical heat. I was also informed that the bed is heated, too…think I can buy one for my apartment? Then I was asked if I wanted to connect my own music, podcast or audiobook to the sound system. I debated putting on some Taylor Swift because, duh, but opted for the default ORA soundtrack since it was very spa-like and soothing.
A terry cloth wrap was waiting for me to change into, as well as extra towels if I was feeling a little more modest. (I wasn’t.) There’s a mirror, tissues, a dish for your jewelry, hooks for your bag, a little seat, and tons of storage for your belongings. Plus, they have a receptacle that you put your smartphone into and it both charges and sanitizes! Technology, man.
I was given a few minutes to get ready, and then my acupuncturist, Nicole, knocked on the door. We chatted for a while, going over the medical intake form I had filled out. She asked questions that made me really trust her knowledge of the entire human body as well as mental health issues—I certainly wasn’t getting “woo woo” vibes! We discussed my anxiety and anxiety-related insomnia. She actually shared a bit about her own personal struggles with mental health, which made me feel understood. She recommended that we focus my treatment on calming and assisting with sleep. Nicole also explained that she went to school for 3.5 years to become an acupuncturist and that much of that time was spent in clinicals. I loved hearing that!
In addition to acupuncture, you have the option to add on cupping, e-stim, and gua sha services. I chose to add on e-stim, but Nicole pointed out that most of the add-ons are best for pain management versus anxiety. (We love an honest person that doesn’t try to upsell you!) She knew I wanted to try the “full” experience, though, so she suggested a light version of e-stim on my legs to support energy.
Then it was needle time. She asked if I had any fear of needles, which I appreciated—but I assured her that as a Type 1 diabetic, we were good to go! Nonetheless, she talked to me while placing the needles in my body which was a great distraction if you are nervous.
I didn’t count how many needles she used, but ORA typically inserts 15-25 needles per person. Nicole had me lay face up and put them into my face, ears, chest, wrists, and legs. The insertion didn’t hurt at all. Some spots pinched a bit more than others, but still not much. She asked if I was ok with her putting heat on my stomach area (heck, yes) and some essential oils on my chest (please!). Then she connected the e-stim machine to some of the needles on my legs. Before leaving the room to let me relax for about 30 minutes, she placed a buzzer in my hand that I could press if I felt uncomfortable at any time. As she left, she dimmed the lights and I closed my eyes to begin my half-hour of self-care.
So, what did it feel like? Honestly, the needles themselves didn’t feel like anything, but the entire experience (dim room, soothing tunes, warm bed, essential oils) was a total spa vibe. I could’ve stayed for hours. The only part I wasn’t so sure about was the e-stim—it sort of felt like when your foot falls asleep—so I would take the acupuncturist’s advice and forgo that next time.
When my thirty minutes were up, Nicole came back to check on me and to remove the needles. She then recommended a blend of Chinese herbs to mix with water each night to help my sleep.
After your services, you can shop ORA’s wellness products as well as purchase tonics and teas. I opted for a “Blessed, Not Stressed” tonic, which the receptionist told me is best taken as a shot. She gave me a ginger candy to cleanse my palette afterward. I also ordered a sparkling hibiscus tea which is on tap and sweetened with Stevia. It was the perfect guilt-free refreshment on a hot day.
The receptionist asked me how my services were and walked me through the personalized treatment plan recommendation that my acupuncturist had written out. She also told me about ORA’s referral program: anyone that mentions my full name at booking will receive $25 off their services!
I left ORA feeling calm, refreshed, content, and honestly, kind of like a celeb. That personalized attention will really get to your head if you aren’t careful. 😉 I spent the rest of the afternoon laying in Central Park, and I actually felt so relaxed that I fell asleep while reading my book. I guess you could say the treatment worked for me!
Have you tried acupuncture before? I’d love to hear about your experiences!