Holistic healers flock to Hayward

Massage therapists, herbalists, and yoga masters rush to meet city's pent-up demand

The Oakland Tribune/January 27, 2003
By Julissa McKinnon

It smells like aroma therapy in the town that the New Age wave almost forgot.


Slowly, quietly, the tide of holistic health has crept into Hayward, perhaps the only Bay Area city where a new yoga studio still turns heads.

Between the empty store fronts and antique shops in downtown Hayward, holistic health businesses are sprouting, filling the untapped economic niche of alternative healing.

Unlike its more cosmopolitan neighbors, such as Oakland and Berkeley, Hayward is still virgin territory for the holistic health market.

Hipness ratings aside, several of the new holistic health businesses of the Hayward area seem happy they came.

At Sea Angel's Touch, which has evolved over the past four years into a holistic education center, business has been booming, employees said.

The downtown store front, on B Street, is filled with an array of bath and body products for sale, a passion for owner Peggy Vittoria.

But beyond the front counter, the deep footprint of the 1920s building extends into a wellness center -- soon to be renovated -- complete with a classroom and treatment rooms.

Some of the offerings include massage, acupressure, facials, yoga and self-mastery classes -- even an occasional drum circle.

As Vittoria prepares to change the business' name to Spherical Reality Life Coaching Institute, it will soon focus even more on self-awareness, using principles she's developed from the Oregon-based Friends Landing Center for Conscious Living.

"It's helping people figure out what they want in their life, what they want to do and what makes them happy," she said. "A lot of people don't know."

Vittoria, a certified holistic body worker and health educator, is one of four practitioners at Sea Angel's touch.

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