It was the middle of fashion month, one of the busiest times of year here at the W offices, and everyone felt the strain of the added workload— with mounting coronavirus fears only contributing to the stress. So when the newly opened New York City space ORA offered up the opportunity to try out some acupuncture treatments, four very willing staff members headed over there with a single goal in mind: some serious relaxation. Focused solely on acupuncture, ORA—founded by the Harvard Business School grad and New York City real estate scion Kimberly Ross—opened in NoHo on March 3. The space enters the market at a time when the ancient Chinese practice is gaining traction, rapidly becoming a go-to cure-all for wellness folk. Can a few needles actually ease tension and soothe frazzled nerves? Four W editors gave it a shot—and told us what they really thought.
Stephanie Eckardt, Staff Writer
What, if any, is your experience with acupuncture? What were your expectations going into it? I’ve never gotten acupuncture done, but have dreamed of it for years—especially since I first started getting migraines. I’ve definitely fantasized about pressing a needle into the parts of my forehead that are unbearably throbbing, and also definitely expected that the needles would be placed directly into the areas that they would affect. I realized pretty quickly that that is not the case.
Did you have any wellness goals for your treatment?
I had a migraine the day before I went to ORA, and several in the weeks before, so I was hoping to either find a way to help cope or bring an end to what was starting to seem like a pattern. I also wanted to loosen up some of the tension in my neck and back.
What was your first reaction to ORA? The environment was welcoming, and calming from the start. But I started to tense up when I headed back to the treatment room with my acupuncturist, who asked me a lengthy series of questions and took notes on a legal pad. In part it was because I’m not familiar with the process, and occasionally questioned whether or not the topics were relevant. It was hard not to be taken by surprise when he looked at my tongue twice, drawing it with strange curly shapes and writing the word “short.” Or when he took my pulse twice but never wrote down a figure, just the word “tense.”
I couldn’t get comfortable lying face-flat on the head pillow. Ordinarily, I would have loved being left alone for 20 minutes in the dark and quiet, but I spent pretty much the entire time fidgeting, wondering if it would be rude to grab my phone, and sincerely regretting scheduling my appointment during one of the busiest times of the workday.
How did you feel after your treatment? Would you continue acupuncture in the future? I felt stressed, which is mostly my fault—I thought a morning appointment would get my day off to a good start, whereas I now see ORA’s late-night hours as one of its biggest draws. But the acupuncturist also seemed a bit on edge, which in turn made me a bit on edge. This likely wasn’t the intended takeaway, but to me, the best part about the experience was getting a good laugh. I mean that genuinely, and in a good way. It was somewhat delightfully absurd to watch someone struggle over how to draw my tongue—which, to my unenlightened mind, is a completely irrelevant task—and to hear multiple people frantically assure me that it was perfectly normal when I found blood trickling down my head. I didn’t mind the blood at all, and the acupuncturist told me that it was good news given my migraine the day before, though I took that with a grain of salt.
Now that my fantasy of sticking a needle into the most concentrated parts of my migraines has been, well, punctured, I’m not as excited about acupuncture as I was before. Still, I would definitely do it again, knowing I’d be much more comfortable with an acupuncturist who identifies as a woman. A 9 p.m. appointment after a rough day sounds like a real treat. Unfortunately, it’s one I can't foresee myself being able to afford, especially since the type of treatments I’m interested in are the ones you’re supposed to repeat.
Tilden Bissell, Digital Designer
What, if any, is your experience with acupuncture? What were your expectations going into it? Basically, if it will make me less anxious, I’ll try anything: CBD, yoga, reiki, etc. I did acupuncture before a few years ago to deal with TMJ and I like to think it worked, but that space was closer to a doctor’s office than a zen retreat.
Did you have any wellness goals for your treatment? We were in the middle of our Paris Fashion Week coverage, so relaxation was definitely my main focus.
What was your first reaction to ORA? The space was soothing, with lots of blue tones and a small area for teas and tonics before your treatment. I was taken to one of the rooms by my acupuncturist Adrienne, who conducted an evaluation of my overall health and stress levels before letting me get settled. To release stress and address digestive concerns, she placed needles starting at the crown of my head and ears, followed by my hands, stomach, legs, and feet. After the needles were in—a relatively comfortable process—she put a jade eye mask on me and left the room.
For the first 10 minutes I just thought, Oh god, is this ever going to work, in a mild panic, but I dozed off for the last 15. Adrienne woke me up, I grabbed a tea (the name, Calm and Carry, was a little cutesy) and a tonic with a crystalized ginger chaser, and was on my way.
How did you feel after your treatment? Would you continue acupuncture in the future? I felt totally refreshed—usually, power naps leave me groggy, but I felt energized and clearheaded. I’ve been wanting to make acupuncture a regular part of my wellness routine again, and I think this provided the little push I needed.
Meredith Jayme, Associate Accessories Editor
What, if any, is your experience with acupuncture? What were your expectations going into it? This was my first time trying acupuncture. I’ve always wanted to give it a shot, but have never made the time. I’d heard amazing things, so I was definitely looking forward to my session.
Did you have any wellness goals for your treatment? I was hoping to reduce stress, relax, and disconnect from my hectic inbox during my treatment.
What was your first reaction to ORA? I immediately felt welcomed when I walked in. Everyone was so friendly and I picked up a zen sort of energy. The treatment rooms have heated beds, phone-charging stations, and play the music of your choice. My acupuncturist was extremely knowledgeable and reassured me throughout the entire process.
How did you feel after your treatment? Would you continue acupuncture in the future? The treatment itself was incredible; I found the process of applying needles, somehow, was entirely painless. It’s usually hard for me to get out of my head, but once a jade eye mask was applied, I relaxed, and my mind stilled. I felt completely rejuvenated and calm following my treatment, and will definitely be an ORA regular after this.
Elaine Uzor, Accessories Assistant
What, if any, is your experience with acupuncture? What were your expectations going into it? I had always been eager to try acupuncture, so when the opportunity presented itself, I was beyond excited. I had often heard of acupuncture and its health benefits. I definitely had high expectations.
Did you have any wellness goals for your treatment? My main focus going into this was realignment, and an overall sense of well-being. I was in a car accident in September of last year and have retained stress in my neck and lower back as a result of it.
What was your first reaction to ORA? I would describe my first feeling walking into ORA as enchanted. I was greeted warmly by the staffers and acupuncturists, and a sudden calmness took over my body. The rooms have this incredible aura that immediately makes you feel equanimous.
How did you feel after your treatment? Would you continue acupuncture in the future? Euphoric. At first, I was a bit scared despite being eager to try acupuncture. (I mean, who is okay with tons of needles being inserted into your body?) Thankfully, the procedure itself was painless, quick, and, in all honesty, delightful. My acupuncturist was so assuring and insightful, which was an added plus. I felt amazing afterward.