Learning to Breathe

Breath does amazing things. The word "udånder" means “exhale” in Danish. The rhythm and power of breath and nature serves as the organizing ethos for udånder Scandinavian Steam & Sauna Spa.

story by Veronica Pasfield | photos by Something Gold

Breath does amazing things. It releases so much from within, and opens us to the outside world. The rhythm and power of nature serve as the organizing ethos for udånder Scandinavian steam & sauna spa.

udånder means “exhale” in Danish, and this beautiful sanctuary invites Oklahoma City to make time to do just that smack in the heart and hustle of Downtown. Explains co-founder Katie O’Brien, that’s the point.

“Being downtown is a complete benefit. It speaks to our message of being able to get away from the rush, rush, rush—even Downtown. We created a safe space, a warm and comfortable space, to just decompress.”

O’Brien and partner Andrea Mason shared a true passion for spa girl getaways, and regularly visited many. Not surprisingly, these highly entrepreneurial businesswomen transformed passion into a hip business. O’Brien’s True North Living store in Nichols Hills catapulted her into a leadership role there. Mason is one of the most high-profile women in OKC as owner of Barre3 studios and an impassioned supporter of the city’s growth.

These women also possess maybe the rarest quality of all: a genuine nurturing of other women. That spirit pervades this space—and certainly extends to men. (udånder dedicates separate time for them.)

Visits can be simple; a half-hour steam and catnap on the sleek recliners did us a solid after work. Their massage therapist worked wonders on the bulldog mess that was our publisher’s stressed-out shoulders. The cedar foot soak in a hammered copper bowl felt like a private ceremony, and delivered on the promise to help my strained ankle. And it’s amazing what fifteen minutes in a eucalyptus-infused steam sauna will do for a bad attitude.

“All of these amenities have never been done this way in Oklahoma City,” O’Brien said. “Yes, it’s great that we’re doing and creating all these things. But if you’re not taking time for yourself to exhale, all of it is for naught. Now you can just go downtown and here you are.”

That “here you are” feeling translates to a deeper philosophy at udånder. There is power in our bodies, and in creation. udånder’s invitation: be with that.

Nature’s potent therapeutics, and our breath and bodies—just as they are—have the power to bring us back to balance.

131 Dean A. McGee Ave., ste. 105, Oklahoma City; (405) 605-0313. udander.com. This story was originally published in February 2015.