f e a t u r e s - h e a l t h
Guilty Pleasure or Health Practice?
photography by maaike bernstrom
“Spa: a place where people go to improve their health and appearance by exercising, relaxing, etc.”
According to Webster
Going to a Spa has mistakenly been put under the category of ‘Pampering’ instead of ‘Necessity’. Over 2000 years ago, the Baths in ancient Rome, Greece and in the Arab and Ottoman nations were places where one went to cleanse, nourish and relax. It was a health practice, not a luxury. The Baths, a weekly ritual, was a very social place where you would catch up with friends while you enjoyed the hot waters and steam followed by a thorough scrubbing of your skin and your hair washed and conditioned.
Culturally, we are becoming increasingly aware of healthy living. eating and daily exercise
with proven results; a better quality of life. More and more, our society is reverting back to the principles of the way people used to live. Healthy and locally sourced food is becoming the norm. Manual labor used in everyday tasks before machines and computers became commonplace has been replaced by the conscious effort to move, exercise and engage in activity. Quickly trending, is the resurgence of deep cleansing practices, which unlike a shower or bath, means steaming or sweating out toxins by using water and heat to relax and invigorate our skin, muscles and circulation. In other words, what’s old is new again.
Are you’re a Spinner, Zumba or Cross Fit kind of exerciser? Perhaps you are a Yoga maven, just like to lift some weights, use the machines, swim laps or work out with a personal trainer. Walker, runner, no matter what you have chosen as your fitness routine, there is one thing you should keep in mind. You are doing this to feel and look good. If you are going to go through all that sweat and grind, finish your workouts off the right way.
STEAM OR SAUNA
The finishing touch to a workout is to stretch, relax and rid the body of the toxins and sweat you released during physical exertion. Sure, a shower will do the trick of rinsing off the sweat, but a deeper cleansing is optimal. Most health club gyms have steam showers or saunas or maybe you are lucky enough to be near a water therapy or hydrotherapy spa, the latest resurgent trends that are cropping up around the country.
Use the following tips on how to cleanse your body and promote good overall health after your workout
Workout or not, grab a friend and plan to meet at the health club or spa. Bring your bathing suits and a kit with your Spa products. Sisters, Harmony Oschefski and Cedar Hwang owners of the Bodhi Spa , put their spa kit together from Tala Bath and Body, whose products are based on those used in the original ancient Hamams and Baths of the Mid East including clay masks, black olive pulp soap and a cream and oil from the kernels of the rich Moroccan argan tree.
Shower. This removes all of the outside world’s chemicals, oils and dirt that we normally accumulate during our day or after a workout and prepares your skin for the next step.
Relax. Enjoy some time in the hot tub or warm pool chatting and catching up with your friend. Your muscles will begin to relax and the warmth of the water encourages your blood to circulate near the surface of your skin allowing toxins to be released.
Masks: Harmony and Cedar mix a small batch of Rhassoul Lava Clay, a clay based mask which is extracted from the mines of the Moroccan Fez region. This mineral-laden clay is dried and transformed into a fine silken powder and when water is added it becomes a smectic clay that absorbs liquid or oil from the skin and hair and replaces them with healthful minerals. Let this sit for about 5 to 10 minutes before applying.
Purpose: The clay mask purifies, unblocks pores and exfoliates. It helps reduce dryness and flakiness while improving the skin’s clarity and elasticity. The skin should feel silken with an improved texture noticeable for days after use.
Applying the Mask: The pores on your skin have softened from the light steam from the whirlpool and your face is ready to receive the clay mask. Apply it evenly over your entire face and if you’d like, your neck as well. Enjoy the whirlpool for a few more minutes until the mask hardens.
The Steam Room. When entering the steam room at Bodhi Spa, you are enveloped by the smell of eucalyptus oil aromatherapy filtered in by Mr. Steam’s Aroma Steam System which give you a wonderful refreshingly calm sense of well being. Harmony and Cedar chose Eucalyptus oil, known for its anti-inflammatory, decongestant, antiseptic and antibacterial effects because it aids in general health and besides that, smells absolutely fabulous!
Relaxing here with your spa pal and letting the steam and aromas do their work is nothing short of nirvana. While the steam softens the clay mask allowing it to absorb into your skin, it relaxes your muscles and improves healthy breathing circulation. Meanwhile, the rest of your body is expelling toxins up through your pores.
If you have a Mr. Steam Steam Shower at home, the other Aromatherapy oils available are lavender, evergreen, mint and breathe, a combination of tropical scents.
As much as you don’t want to, you will leave the steam shower after about fifteen to twenty minutes and wash off under the shower using Moroccan Beldi Black Soap, an butter-like soap made of a mixture of the pulp of black olives and oil which is soaked in salt and potash. Using the same method they used in the ancient hamams and baths, you will slather the soap all over your body and scrub off all of the impurities and dead skin with an exfoliating mitt or facecloth.
Squeaky clean, you will take a one minutes dip into the cool plunge pool, if there is one available. If not, turn the shower to a cooler temperature instead. The hot and cold seals you skin, stimulates the circulatory system and detoxifies and bathes your cells in fresh oxygen-rich blood which helps bring youthfulness to your mind and body.
Seal the Deal. Cedar uses Tala’s Argan Oil to add nourishment. Argan Oil, predominately made in Morocco, has long been used on the skin to combat acne, aging and environmental damage. As a hair conditioner, applied 30 minutes before shampooing results in silken, moisturized and healthy hair.
The spa process is relaxing and luxurious – and the benefits are vast. This is a healthy living practice and if you can embrace that philosophy, you can see how important it is to detoxify your body and take time to de-stress from your busy life.
A Spa Treatment such as the one above will:
- give your skin a thorough exfoliating cleansing & hydration which promotes younger and more elastic skin
- the process of whirlpool, steam and the cool plunge pool increases your circulation and promotes a deeper sleep at night
- the steam clears and promotes a healthy respiratory system, sinus and nasal health
- the entire process helps joint pain and arthritis
- promotes general health
Spa at Home
If you are not near a health club that has a steam or sauna and this really tickles your fancy, you might want to investigate installing a steam shower in your bathroom at home, especially if you have bronchial problems, arthritis or allergies.
Mr. Steam has been providing steam showers for bathrooms for years and today they have a compact unit that fit underneath a vanity for apartment sized bathrooms as well.
Harmony Oschefski and Cedar Hwang of Bodhi Spa, Newport, Rhode Island, discovered the power and benefits of water therapy at a Zen hydrotherapy spa when visiting one in Hawaii. They opened Bodhi Spa, an all-encompassing place of healing, detoxification and relaxation through the power of water and steam. Water Therapies are ideal for everyone and especially benefit those who are on an exercise regime, have injuries, arthritis, are battling an ongoing illness, have chronic respiratory ailments or who lead high stressed lives.
Make sure to make an appointment there when visiting Newport!