Inside Hana: Auckland's latest wellness space that's bringing the heat

Hana Grey Lynn
Auckland's newest wellness space has just opened in Grey Lynn, and already has people flocking. Photo credit: Supplied.

I usually start my workday with a coffee and maybe a scone, but today I climbed inside a giant sunbed-like pod to lie naked and be pulsed with red infrared light.

So began my treatments at Hana, the premium wellness space which is the newest addition to the super chic Scrapyard in Grey Lynn.

Hana, which means to "shine, glow and radiate" in Te Reo Māori, is a first for Auckland. While a masseuse and pilates instructor also operate in the polished concrete and gold-detailed rooms, the main attraction is the private infrared saunas and photobiomodulation (red light) therapy pods.

Coming in from a drizzly, cold Auckland morning, founder Sara Higgins greeted me at the door with her adorable assistant Teddy.

Teddy the assistant will greet you at the door, and demand payment in pats.
Teddy the assistant will greet you at the door, and demand payment in pats. Photo credit: Supplied.

She showed me around, explained how to work the pod and sauna, and then left me to it. While the pods might look like particularly high-tech sunbeds, they're extremely easy to use and before long I was soaking in all the LED goodness. 

Photobiomodulation is not only hard to say, it might be hard for some to wrap their heads around - especially given the pod's appearance. But light therapy is nothing like the harmful UV that comes with sunbeds.

hana wellness spaces
The main drawcard of the space are the photobiomodulation pods and infrared sauna. Photo credit: Supplied.

Instead, it's scientifically proven to repair sun damage, reduce wrinkles, speed muscle recovery, heal scarring and stretch marks, reduce inflammation, boost testosterone levels and enhance collagen. It's similar to the LED face lights seen in facialists around the country, but Higgins says the photobiomodulation pods penetrate even deeper to treat the body's mitochondria.

More commonly known internationally for their numerous health benefits, infrared saunas offer detoxification and relaxation, and can leave you with glowing skin, improved energy and a strengthened immune system. 

The best part, in my opinion, is the heat - that full-body warm-to-the-bone sensation that is so hard to come by in winter. I relished in it, and when the time was up on my sauna, I was genuinely bereft. 

Higgins found out about the benefits of infrared saunas and light therapies first-hand after she suffered from unexplained fatigue for over five years. 

"I spent years seeking answers from multiple health practitioners, trying to get to the root cause," she says.

"Through this process, I learnt a lot about alternative options to conventional treatments and came across the healing benefits of saunas and more recently red light therapy. I wanted to be able to make it easy for people to access these treatments."

hana founder sara higgins
Hana founder Sara Higgins. Photo credit: Supplied.

The former pharmacist brings a medical background to her new role in the beauty-wellness industry.

"My passion then and now is to guide people on their own journey to full wellness. Our bodies detoxify through our skin, and infrared saunas and light therapy help to activate and encourage the process. Sometimes we just need to give it some time, heat and space to heal."

If you want to try what Hana has to offer, it may be difficult to get a booking any time soon. Just in the time I drank my digestive tea, three people came in "just for a look" and after only opening a week ago Higgins says this weekend is already fully booked up. 

It's a sign that perhaps in this post-lockdown era, some people are keener than ever to spend a time and money on their health and wellness. 

"Looking after your health is so important and should be prioritised," Higgins says. "With Hana my aim is to create a calming and healing sanctuary that encourages people to relax and take time for self-care."