Tracey Vincel is a physiotherapist who goes beyond the physical to explore the nature of the mind and the embodiment of wholeness, an elevated way of being that considers how matter relates to consciousness. Founder of KNÓSIS Physiotherapy & Wellness in New York City, she is passionate about sharing knowledge. Vincel has traveled the world immersing herself in nature’s biodiversity and wisdom cultures, discovering the diagnostic tools that form the basis for mind, breath, and movement therapy interventions. She believes in an integrated approach to treating pain and has dedicated her 25 years of clinical practice to empowering clients, combining ancient and alternative healing techniques with cutting-edge orthopedic therapy and neuroscience. Vincel holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and psychology and two master’s degrees in physical therapy.
In 2003, she took her knowledge deeper by studying with world-renowned researchers in motor control and pain neuroscience, earning a second master’s degree in spinal orthopedics from the University Queensland in Australia. She has completed numerous advanced therapeutic certifications, including becoming a certified behavioral breathing analyst. At KNÓSIS, she and her team of physiotherapist are known for their unique ability to get to the root cause of pain, restore body alignment and neuromuscular connection, while simultaneously tapping into the client’s own intuitive healing. Vincel was the chair of the Global Wellness Institute’s Immersion Initiative, which inspires participation in transformative and immersive wellness experiences. She is passionate about raising our individual and collective wellness to build our planet’s and humanity’s harmonious future. Here, she shares some of the ways she manages her own wellbeing as well as helps her clients manage theirs.
How do you define wellness and wellbeing?
As a delegate to the Global Wellness Summit, initiative chair of the Global Wellness Institute, and a lifelong pursuer of wellness, I feel it is important that we define what we mean by wellness. Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. Wellbeing is a state of being in which one realizes who they are, simultaneously personal and universal, self-aware of one’s limitless nature. Wellness is a process, and wellbeing is a “state of being.” Wellness is the process of achieving this state.
What does wellness mean to you?
For me wellness is holistic and integral, encompassing lifestyle choices around physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. Starting this journey as a physical therapist 25 years ago, I immersed myself in learning about the physical and what is means to be pain-free and well-connected to our core, aligned against gravity, muscles balanced, and joints centered, flexible yet strong to allow us to move with ease and grace. I soon realized the mind had a powerful influence over the physical. I immersed myself in mindfulness, meditation, and contemplation practices.
Inspired by Dan Siegel, I keep my mind healthy by engaging in a variety of experiences. My marriage to my husband 12 years ago has been my greatest teacher of emotional intelligence. Defined by Daniel Goleman as the ability to “recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions while simultaneously recognizing, understanding, and influencing the emotions of another.” My spiritual path has involved the exploration of self though music, nature, wisdom traditions, and journeys involving inner and outer exploration. At its essence what I have realized through my 50 years of life experiences is that wellness is not about changing yourself. It is about recognizing the beauty in yourself already. This gnosis is complete, integral, knowing, uniting, body, mind, and heart. My dream is that one day we will all recognize and reflect this knowing. It is why I named my New York City-based physiotherapy and wellness center KNÓSIS.
What are your favorite things to do to maintain your personal wellbeing?
Sleeping close to eight hours and tuning into the liminal moment between the sleep and awake state. I also incorporate daily meditation practice. Regular physical exercise keeps my body strong and flexible. I particularly love daily sun salutations and weekly Pilates and Gyrotonic sessions. I also get a massage once a month. I love letting go and relaxing with my husband or friends or reading a favorite book. I love my profession, and every day, I find joy in helping others. I also love new experiences that push me to grow. Travel is a passion and a great source of my personal wellbeing. It allows me to see the world from a different perspective and to leave the intensity of New York City, where I live and work, and spend time with myself and husband immersed in nature. Nothing brings me closer to my personal wellbeing faster than being barefoot in the sun in nature, and this feeling is magnified when I am with my life partner and fellow adventurers, my husband and our closest friends.
Is there a specific fitness activity that you love and why?
One of my favorite fitness activities that I participate in regularly and recommend to my clients at KNOSIS is Pilates and Gyrotonic. Pilates and Gyrotonic are both machine-based activities. Pilates uses springs, and Gyrotonic uses pulleys to make it easier to feel and connect to our body’s core. They are, in my opinion, one of the best ways to strengthen and tone the body. I especially love to incorporate both with GravityFit principles. I did my second master’s degree in spine at the University of Queensland in 2003. This began my true understanding of the importance of building a group of muscles deep in the body that attach to the spine and extremity joints (example: shoulder and hip). Collectively, this group of muscles is called the anti-gravity stabilizers. It turns out they are critical in maintaining our alignment, centering our joints, and preventing excessive wear and tear as we age. They also shut down with pain and poor posture. The more inefficient they are, the worse we feel in our body. My favorite ways to exercise these muscles is with Gravity Fit T Pro and G-Suit and Pilates and Gyrotonic exercises. At KNÓSIS, we offer this unique combination of core activation with hands-on body work to release restrictions. In my 25 years of helping clients keep their physical body pain-free and well, this is what I have discovered works.
What is your favorite self-care routine?
I love taking care of my skin. As the largest organ of my body and the first one people see and feel, how I take care of my skin reflects how I take care of me. I have evolved my skincare routine from emphasizing my face to realizing my whole body deserves care. I always make sure to clean my skin well daily. I regularly cleanse with facials and body scrubs. I also do facials at KNÓSIS that incorporate Reiki energy. My absolute favorite whole-body skin-cleansing routine is a hammam experience. I find the most beautiful ones with large domed ceilings, white marble, and sun cascading inside to be in Istanbul. The elevated architecture and overall pampering make me feel that my body is the most precious gift to be treasured. I have taken this transformative realization and incorporated it back into my own bathing ritual. I use a mixture of essential oils, moisturizers, and peptides on my skin. I also love Egyptian Magic and the ionic mist from Immunocologie Skincare. I feel I am spraying a little bit of Mother Earth onto my skin every time I use it. The essential minerals awaken the natural immunity of my skin. I use a jade Gua Sha tool every morning and night. I also do weekly acupuncture incorporating facial techniques that support my energy and my skin. I notice when I feel good inside, my skin radiates beauty on the outside.
What is your go-to for de-stressing?
Nothing has had a more profound effect on reducing my levels of stress than my daily meditation practice. This regular practice has changed the way I deal with stress from moment to moment. The style that has worked the best for me is called Vedic meditation, a form of transcendental meditation. It came to the West through the Maharishi Mahesh. This practice involves repeating a mantra and transcending the mind. I learned my mantra from a great meditation teacher, Thom Knoles. He was a student of the Maharishi Mahesh. It took a few months of regular 20-minute, twice daily practice, and I was changed! I began to love being in a state of meditation and can now say that it is one of my favorite practices for maintaining my personal wellbeing. I can do it anywhere. My very favorite place to meditate is in the sun. Before meditating, I often feel myself being recharged. I imagine that I am sending light and vital energy to every one of my 28 trillion cells. I also like to listen to harmonic overtones as another form of meditation. Focusing and deeply listening, I have learned from a great teacher, Alexandre Tannous, on how to use sound to tune my body. Meditation helps me to not only destress but to also set an intention, to find clarity, to know peace, to balance my thinking and feeling. I physically change my brain and my body by doing it.
What is your greatest wellness achievement?
My greatest wellness achievement was ignited in a small group meditation six years ago when I felt an overwhelming realization, an all-encompassing knowing of the feeling of wellbeing. This feeling is difficult to express in words, but it felt like a deep connection to myself and everything all at once. This feeling sparked my imagination, inspiration, and intuition. It helped guide my relationship with myself, others, my body, my business, and even my perspective on what it means to be human. I began tuning in to a new vibration. Old patterns and relationships had to be shed and new ones blossomed. None was more important than the creation of my physiotherapy and wellness center, KNÓSIS. The creation of KNÓSIS is my greatest wellness achievement. It is not only a gift to myself as a place to explore embodied knowledge but also to share with all who come to us for help. People from around the world come to KNOSIS to take care of their whole-body wellbeing. Through therapies, innovative tools, and curated immersive experiences, we balance thinking and feeling—to know our body and to understand ourselves more deeply.
What do you think is the most exciting wellness innovation you have recently discovered?
I am very excited about vibroacoustic therapy. I am always looking for new and innovative tools to align and harmonize the body. Six months ago, I bought a vibroacoustic table and am witnessing over and over the profound effects it is having on our clients. Vibroacoustic therapy is a science-based treatment that delivers sound waves to the body while one lays on a vibrating table (mechanical vibration) and wears a set of headphones (acoustic vibration). This powerful combination creates an immersive therapeutic whole-body sound experience, which can reduce stress, relieve pain, and restore balance in the nervous system. The experience creates space for deep relaxation to take place, to ease symptoms, and re-tune the body back to harmony. We are using our vibroacoustic table as a stand-alone therapy as well as combining it with hands-on therapies, such as joint mobilization, massage, and movement re-education.
What brings you joy?
What brings me joy is igniting the light in another. Simple gestures of kindness; sharing a moment with the coffee barista, a neighbor, or a person sitting next to me on the subway. Being there for a friend and reminding them how special they are. Saying thank you and feeling how important that is to the person you expressed it to. Calling my mother who I know loves to hear from me. Sparking curiosity in someone to understand themselves more deeply. Witnessing the ah ha moment when the light of understanding is awakened. Seeing the spark in my husband’s eyes when he is full of joy. Sharing joy is what brings me joy. We are all responsible for what happens in the world. We each have the power inside of us to bring light to each moment. What brings me joy is imagining a world where there is no war, where we can all speak a kind word, share a kind gesture, and turn the light on inside ourselves and in all that surrounds us.