Tatler House Stories: A Panel Discussion With Wellness Advocates Sonia Samtani, Natalie Söderström & Sabrina Villard
A shaman, a yoga instructor and a hypnotherapist walk into The Upper House’s 49th-floor Sky Lounge. Instead of a punchline, the result is pure magic. In the March edition of Tatler’s House Stories, lifestyle editor Coco Marett hosted a panel talk with hypnotherapist Sonia Samtani, founder of All About You, who is transforming the lives of her clients through a deep dive into their subconscious; Natalie Söderström, a yoga and meditation instructor championing a kinder inner dialogue; and Sabrina Villard, a luxury brand project manager by day and modern-day shaman by night, whose work extols the virtues of alternative healing practices such as acupuncture.
Each wellness advocate took a packed audience of health enthusiasts on a journey, providing insights into the rise of interest in spiritual practices as a result of growing mental health concerns stemming from Covid-19, and offering their thoughts on what a balanced life means and the common misconceptions they each face in their particular forms of therapy.
“A lot of people are scared to come to a shaman,” said Villard. “It’s the fear of the unknown. They wonder if I’ll do voodoo tricks and dance around them. Trust me, I don’t do anything witchy,” she said, to laughter.
“I can relate,” said Samtani. “As a hypnotherapist, I’ve had clients tell me to not look directly into their eyes, thinking I’ll make them dance like a monkey. It’s nothing like that. Hypnotherapy is a lot like meditation.”
With many of the three practitioners’ clients struggling with increased anxiety, fear and loss of control—whether financial, professional or personal—the pandemic has led to an increased demand for their services.
Sylvie and Pascal de Sarthe (Photo: Affa Chan/ Tatler Hong Kong)
Roomila Chandra and Kanch Porta Panjabi (far right) (Photo: Affa Chan/ Tatler Hong Kong)
Shona Smith (right) (Photo: Affa Chan/ Tatler Hong Kong)
Kaye Dong (middle) (Photo: Affa Chan/ Tatler Hong Kong)
Photo: Affa Chan/ Tatler Hong Kong
Samtani said, “What we saw in 2020 was that when something changes and our coping mechanisms aren’t working, we tend to look within. It has been great not only for our industry but consciousness in general.”
“The first question I ask my clients is if they are ready to drop the weight from the past,” Villard added. “I say, ‘Are you ready to bring peace to yourself? Are you ready to heal and evolve?’ As a shaman, I can tell you there is no magic; it’s just work. Before 2020, the focus was on thinking and logic. After 2020, the focus is on feeling. How do you feel? That’s what I want to know.”
Providing useful tools for clearing heads of negative thoughts and learning to love oneself, Söderström shared her “100 days of happiness” challenge to find beauty each day.
“It taught me that there is reason to be grateful every day and it doesn’t have to be grand. I’ve learnt to pause and practise gratitude to remind myself what I have instead of always thinking about what I don’t have or want. Having a balanced life is about being satisfied with what’s around you,” she said.
The thought-provoking evening ended with Marett asking how the wellness space has evolved in the last year. Samtani replied, “In 2020, we grew up a little bit. We’re [now] doing a lot more introspection. We’re taking charge of our lives. Villard added: “There’s no shame in saying you’ve been through a rough time. We’ve all been there. The more we talk about it, the more we can share our experiences and support each other.”