A cornucopia of healthful pampering and indulgence, spas enhance your overall wellness through a variety of professional services intended to restore and rejuvenate the mind, body and spirit. Each spa experience is personal and unique. Although some spas offer similar treatments and therapies, they have all added their individual imprint. Organized in basic categories, a sampling of treatments and their unusual properties follow.
Overview of Treatments
A number of protocols combine more than one element, e.g. a massage might also include a bathing ritual, a scrub might involve an oil treatment, etc. in some cases when a procedure contains a variety of therapies, it is included under the general heading of “body treatments.” other modalities are quite specific Including those for pregnant women, men, couples, classes or salon-type services.
Brief descriptions of the popular therapy categories:
An ancient healing art dating back to 4500 BC, aromatherapy usually refers to treatments such as massage, facials, body wraps or hydro baths that include the application of essential oils from plants, leaves, roots, seeds, resins and flowers. Plants and flowers from which these oils are extracted include rosemary, lavender, roses, chamomile, eucalyptus and pine.
Ayurveda Wellness Treatments
Ayurveda treatments create balance and harmony for radiant health and spiritual wellness. The traditional therapies of this ancient Indian health practice deliver powerful, life-enhancing results.
Body Scrubs & Treatments
A body scrub stimulates blood flow, removes dry patches and awakens skin cells. Body scrubs include brush and tone, dulse scrub, loofah scrub, paraffin treatment and Vichy shower. The brush and tone is a dry brushing of the skin to remove dead layers and impurities while stimulating circulation. This is just one of many exfoliation techniques that precede a mud or seaweed body masque. The body is brushed in invigorating, circular motions to remove dead skin, followed by the application of moisturizing lotion to leave your skin silky smooth and glowing. Dulse scrub is a vigorous scrubbing of the entire body with a mixture of powdered dulse seaweed and oil or water to remove dead skin. It provides a mineral and vitamin treatment and leaves your skin incredibly smooth. Loofah, a natural plant akin to a dried sponge, is used to slough off dead skin, especially effective after a sauna or steam bath. A full-body loofah massage is performed with a mixture of sea salt, warm almond or avocado oil for exfoliation of skin and renewed circulation.
In a paraffin treatment, warm paraffin wax is brushed over the body. The liquid wax coats the skin and, as it solidifies, forms a vacuum that causes any dirt in the pores to be drawn out, removes dead skin and induces a loss of body fluid in the form of perspiration. The deep heat created by this treatment relieves stress, promotes relaxation and results in silky smooth skin.
Clay & Mud Treatments
Practiced by cultures around the world, mudbased therapies have been used for centuries to detoxify, tighten and firm the skin. The quality of mud differs according to its origin. Organic mud, such as Moor Mud from Europe has detoxifying properties which stimulate and hasten toxin elimination through the skin. A highly mineralized mud may be mixed with oil or water and applied over the body as a heat pack. Sometimes only an area such as a shoulder is covered.
Benefits include stimulating circulation and relieving muscular and arthritic pain. Parafango is mud mixed with paraffin. This treatment relaxes the body, alleviates sore muscles and softens the skin. Fango, the Italian word for mud, creates an all-encompassing gooey warmth and works like a poultice, softening your skin. Natural ingredients, such as peat moss and sea kelp are often mixed into the mud to help contain the warmth and increase mineral content. Clay contains many of the same natural ingredients as mud and is brushed on like mud but tends to act more as an exfoliant.
There are numerous varieties of facials including massaging, cleansing, toning, steaming, exfoliating and moisturizing the face. European refers to the use of European products. Some facials include masks to lift dead skin and encourage new growth or a paraffin mask to increase circulation and hydrate your skin. Some provide a non-surgical “facelift” by erasing fine lines and uplifting the skin.
Employing movement and awareness as the primary vehicle for learning, the Feldenkrais Method is an educational system intended to provide greater functional self awareness. Due to its focus on physical movements, the method is often classified as a complementary or alternative medicine. The Feldenkrais Method is popular with dancers, musicians, artists, and others who want to improve their movement repertoire and use the method as a way to enrich their well-being and personal development.
Herbal or Thermal Wrap
During an herbal or thermal wrap, your body is enclosed in warm linen or cotton sheets that have been steeped like tea bags in a medley of aromatic herbs. You’re then covered with blankets or towels to prevent the moist heating from escaping. A cool compress is often applied to the forehead. Herbal wraps help relax muscles, soothe soreness and soften the skin.
Among the most popular spa treatments, massages can transport you to a state of nirvana or renewed energy. They relieve tension and stress; improve circulation, tone and stretch connective tissue and hasten elimination of waste. There are more than a dozen types of massage and multiple variations on those dozen. In addition, some massages integrate the treatment with masques, reflexology and any number of other compatible procedures.
This ancient Chinese technique uses pressure point massage (usually on the feet but also hands and ears) to restore the flow of energy throughout the body. Charts are available that correlate zones to internal organs. By rubbing the crystals on the nerve endings in the soles, a reflex reaction is set up between the zone and its associated body part. An alternative and complementary medicine, its holistic approach is being integrated into health remedies. This procedure is recommended for chronic conditions such as asthma, headaches and migraines.
Much more than a foot massage, reflexology can help the body to heal itself. It can soothe nerve endings, loosen tight muscles, improve blood circulation, reduce stress, enhance nutrient delivery throughout the body and remove toxins by stimulating areas on the feet that correspond to different parts of the anatomy. Think of each sole as a miniature model of your entire body. Tension, stress, illness and pain cause a chemical, Substance P, to build up around the nerve endings. Applying nurturing pressure to targeted spots breaks down and initiates the natural process.
Reiki (Energy Healing)
Defined as universal life force energy, Reiki is a deeply relaxing and centering hands-on healing technique that utilizes light, non-touch. People experience many benefits from Reiki including a heightened sense of awareness, increased intuition, enhanced well-being, emotional resolution, reduction in pain and inner peace.
The body is rubbed with an abrasive scrub consisting of coarse salt usually mixed with essential oils and water. This procedure cleanses pores and removes dead skin. A gentle shower and body moisturizer usually follows.
For centuries, seaweed has been used for its health and beauty benefits. It has a natural tightening and firming effect. In addition to the detoxifying and slimming properties of seaweed, it aids in collagen synthesis and is naturally abundant in anti-oxidants and essential fatty acids. Similar to herbal wraps, a seaweed wrap is combined with heat packs, using seawater and seaweed to remove toxins from the body. The ocean’s nutrients; minerals such as zinc, copper and silica, rare trace elements, vitamins and proteins, are soaked into the bloodstream to revitalize skin and body. A seaweed masque gets its anti-aging power from the cellular cleansing and collagen producing capabilities of seaweed.
Thalassotherapy is from the Greek word Thalassos, meaning “sea.” It heals and refreshes skin and hair by applying the therapeutic benefits of vitamins, minerals and trace elements of sea and seawater products. Developed in the seaside towns of France during the 19th century, Thalassotherapy is used today in European-style spas to promote re-mineralization, detoxification and stimulate metabolism. The therapy is applied in various forms – as showers of warmed seawater, applications of marine mud or algae paste, or the inhalation of sea fog. Many treatments begin with a dry brushing, continue with a seaweed body mask and aromatherapy oils and end with a heated blanket wrap.
Invigorating shower treatment from several water jets of varying temperatures and pressures applied while lying on a waterproof cushioned mat. This treatment is often followed by an exfoliating therapy such as a dulse scrub, loofah or salt glow.