Miami’s burgeoning wellness scene is adding three new concepts to entice practitioners into nurturing their better, healthier, and more forgiving selves.



The buccal — a.k.a cheek cavity — has been a wellness and aesthetics buzzword for some time, but South Florida is just getting in on the anatomic trend. Kristen Bell’s viral buccal massage video about her Los Angeles treatment may have catalyzed buccal’s sudden popularity. Whatever lit the flame, some local practitioners feel the attention is overdue — especially for those with TMJ dysfunction.

Your TMJs (temporomandibular joints) connect your lower jawbone to your skull and support chewing and speaking. Dysfunction can happen to the joints or tissues around them (like the masseter muscles). It can evolve from injury, arthritis, teeth grinding or clenching, misalignment, or stress. Prominent symptoms include jaw and neck pain, lessened range of motion, and headaches.

It is estimated that anywhere from 5-12% of adults suffer from TMJ-related complications, and Acqualina Spa’s Spa Director, Catherine Davalle, is one of them. Her battle prompted her to create Acqualina’s TMJ Massage. The localized, 50 or 80-minute treatment sessions “deal with the back, neck, and facial muscles, the latter from the inside out,” explains Catherine. “It is extremely effective. After one treatment, you might be sore for a few days, but your jaw will be more relaxed.” Catherine also recommends having multiple treatments for long-term relief.

Founder Lola Gonzalez launched the Buccal Massage at Habit Skin Lab when she saw a gap in Miami’s market. She aimed to combine the holistic with the aesthetic. “When building Habit’s menu, I saw places in NY and Europe had buccal treatments, and in Miami, it wasn’t commonplace. I wanted to be a disruptor. This treatment is one of the easiest ways to depuff the face and incorporates Chinese medicine practices. It can tighten the face from the inside out, where we have better control and stimulation of the mouth muscles.”

Part facial, part therapeutic experience, Habit’s 80-minute customizable Buccal Massage also features skin cleansing, exfoliation, and vibrational therapy. Lola also encourages multiple treatments, at least once a month, to see and feel optimal results.



Sah D’Simone created the Somatic Activated Healing (SAH) Method in 2015, inspired by the healing potential from the mind-body-movement connection and rooted in his experience in psychotherapy, Buddhism, and community outreach. This concept and its iterations are slowly becoming mainstream.

For Ludovica Martella, who leads SAH gatherings at the Standard Spa, it’s about energy release. Her approach “puts together somatic (meaning body) methods focused on releasing energy that is stuck in the body through movement, mantras (affirmations), breathwork, and meditation.”

While SAH is a newer practice and sounds far-fetched to some, science has long-backed movement and dance’s positive benefits. According to researchers at the University of California Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, Berkeley, CA, dancing releases chemicals that are good for your brain, including dopamine (the reward hormone), oxytocin (the connection hormone), serotonin (the feel-good hormone), and endorphins (the pain blocking hormone).

Ludovica found herself drawn to SAH while working in activist spaces in New York City. Her healing journey with body dysmorphia led her to Buddhist practices and yoga, and when she stumbled upon SAH, she was hooked. “It was what I was doing without the dance element,” she explained. She then trained in the method in 2020.

So what can Standard Spa guests expect when they arrive at her classes?

“We start with grounding so that they can “protect” their energetic field in case big emotions come out and they need to calm their nervous system. I also invite them to practice with their eyes closed so they are not distracted or comparing themselves,” Ludovica explains.

“Each session is different, depending on what we’re working through — grief, anxiety, etc.,” she adds.” I’m also a personal trainer and focus on proper form. I end with Reiki, which is not traditionally part of SAH but is how I make it mine.”



Gabriela Huerta’s career trajectory proves that staying in your lane isn’t always the best advice. The South-Florida-based practitioner wears many hats — yoga teacher, retreat leader, fitness guide, and bikini competitor. She wouldn’t have believed you if you had told her she’d be any of those things in her early 20s.

“My journey started in 2017 when I went to jail for nine months,” says Gaby.

It was there that the roots of her spiritually-based practice were planted. “I started meditating and read “Many Lives, Many Masters” and “A Course in Miracles.” My family was Catholic, so that was instilled, but I wasn’t connected to anything. [In jail], my mind started expanding. I also started working out. I’m a zero to 100 type of person: I’m either into it, or I’m not.”

After her release, Gaby became a hairstylist after struggling to find a job. She went to yoga daily and later pursued a 700-hr teacher training “more for myself than anything.” She chose Bhakti yoga, which focuses on loving devotion to the divine. “I learned that I am witness to what is happening to me. I am the soul. I can work with my body,” she explains.

Upon completion, Gaby began teaching across South Florida and launched The Return Home retreat in 2020, traveling with 18 women to Tennessee.

Gaby’s open-hearted but practical yoga approach also caught the attention of the NFL pre-draft program at Per4rm. For the last four years, she’s led recovery days for these elite athletes as they prep for the combine, working with the likes of Miami Dolphins superstar Tua Tagovailoa.

“I do more therapeutic adjustments with them; their backs and shoulders are usually tight. I love working with their mindfulness, breathing through the belly, and giving them peace. They’re under so much pressure — feeding their families and trying to make it. As extreme athletes, they are already in tune with their bodies on a high level, but many times, their minds get in the way. When they overthink, they underperform.”

With this momentum, Gaby realized she was to something and decided to move from teaching at public studios to hosting private, corporate, or small-group sessions. “I love when I get to teach in a God-conscious way. If the word “God” triggers people, I ask them to replace it with love in their minds. It holds the vibration of healing and helps move whatever is happening inside. I focus a lot on meditation, breathwork, and deep inner work. I want to bring as many people as I can home back to themselves. I’ve been claiming my practice and am grateful to see how many people are responding to it.”

And with that approach also comes forgiveness. “I can acknowledge what I’ve done. I don’t have to be ashamed anymore. I try to teach that as much as possible,” Gaby adds. Despite being deeply spiritual, Gaby also loves the challenge strength-building brings while creating a physical vessel she embraces being in. “After I completed Hard 75 about two years ago, a friend told me I would be good at entering a bikini competition. So, I decided to enter the NPC Southern States. While training, I discovered the mental fortitude and sacrifice you need to compete. I realized how strong I was. Once, I was doing a leg extension, and it felt like my muscles would rip, and I just pushed through it. I realized that my mind only knows what I’ve shown it. It doesn’t understand what is possible. That’s how I feel about faith — you can do much more than what’s been shown. Being physically strong also makes me feel mentally stronger. Something about having muscle reminds you that you can do something. Yoga helps me activate my muscles and move through a range of motions.”

Gaby’s physique evolved so much that her girlfriends asked her to train them. “I thought, I’m a yoga instructor, not a trainer – but I realized I know more than I give myself credit for. They wanted to grow their glutes, so I wanted to do it in a fun way.”


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