Two holistic health businesses have joined forces on the tranquil grounds of a former estate just outside East Aurora, with designs to add more offerings to patients and clients.
Creative Wellness – which for 2 1/2 years focused on yoga, meditation and nutrition at Main and Pine streets in the village – has folded into Cardea Health Integrative, a former Cheektowaga-based complementary medicine practice that two years ago moved to the former Twins Elms Estate, 1.5 miles east of where Creative Wellness stood until this week.
Dr. Jennifer Jennings, owner of Cardea Health, and Creative Wellness owner Susan Garguiolo will call the yoga-based portion of the business the Nature Studio, which Garguiolo will operate on the 80-acre Cardea Health property.
“The work that Jennifer and I both do really complements each other in terms of holistic wellness, and so we decided to integrate our practices to create something bigger,” Garguiolo said.
The public is welcome to check out the expanded offerings – and take advantage of special rates – during an open house from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the estate, 1196 E. Main St.; for more information, visit cardeahealthwny.com.
Both women said the new arrangement will allow Cardea Health to become the kind of integrative health center each of them envisioned separately for years.
Jennings is a family nurse practitioner and former critical care nurse who holds an integrative medicine degree from Duke University and has taught at Georgetown University and the University at Buffalo. She has focused on the medical end of integrative health, including IV vitamin infusions, gastrointestinal therapies, stem-cell treatments for sore joints, and similar offerings designed to boost well-being.
But she and her office manager, Jonathan D. Phillips, are both certified yoga instructors who have regularly taken classes at Creative Wellness. Jennings often “prescribes” yoga, meditation and nutritional approaches to better health – and many of her patients have turned to Garguiolo’s business for those.
Garguiolo opened in East Aurora in spring 2017 in hopes that she one day would join forces with a outfit like Cardea Health, which also offers massage therapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture and similar paths to better wellness.
Both treasure the setting where they now work. Both said plans for the site include outdoor yoga and meditation classes, and an expanded medicinal garden when the weather allows next spring. Related workshops and retreats also are likely.
“Our site is very much nature infused,” Jennings said. “I'm a big believer in nature as a healing element.”
The swath, once farmland, includes a mansion built in the late 1800s and appointed with fine woodwork, a smaller residence behind it and a former stable outfitted for Jennings’ practice and, now, a new yoga studio. Surrounding land contains hiking trails, a 3-acre pond, a stream and waterfall.
“It's a very energy rich, gorgeous piece of property,” Jennings said, “and we're really, really hoping that this will bring everything to life.”
The new Nature Studio is designed with the setting in mind. The floor, warmed by radiant heat, is made with natural cork. Panels of windows open onto pastureland and woodlots outside. The walls exude the kind of salts used in halo therapy. Sunshine lights will soon brighten the atmosphere on dreary days.
Garguiolo and other Creative Wellness instructors will teach classes at the new site, mostly focused on forms of yoga designed to ease stress while boosting mental and physical health. That includes a monthly gentle yoga class Garguiolo leads for those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, as well as their caregivers.
Jennings and Phillips hope to soon add to that repertoire by teaching a style designed for those like Jennings who need to address autoimmune conditions, as well as chronic diseases.
A 2018 study concluded that a regular yoga practice can enhance the quality of life, improve respiratory and cardiovascular health, and support mental and physical health, including for those challenged by cancer, depression, anxiety and addiction.
Insurance companies almost always cover blood testing for the therapies Jennings uses, and health and flexible savings accounts can be used for most Cardea Health and some Nature Studio offerings, but health insurers rarely cover other related costs.
Jennings lamented that – and hopes it one day will change.
“It's not uncommon that individuals come in and they're struggling with fatigue,” she said. “They say, ‘Nobody can find out what's wrong with me, but I'm so tired, I have low energy, I don't feel good. I have brain fog.’
“What we have here is scientifically based,” she said. “I can tell you that typically at the lab review, when I see patients for their second visit, they're already feeling better. … Typically, we will find that they're zinc deficient, they're vitamin B12 deficient, they're vitamin D deficient. Perhaps they have some underlying inflammation that we can improve with an autoimmune diet or we can improve with certain supplements that bring inflammation down.
“I love being a medical detective.”