Read an Excerpt
Your Own Royal Treatment
I love spas.
I've worked in them for the past twelve years--massaging people with scented oils, spreading warmed fango mud on them, stimulating points on their feet, enveloping them in seaweeds, aiming the jets of high-tech hydrotherapy tubs at their aching muscles, sloughing the rough edges of city life from their bodies with sea salts and aloe, and performing many other treatments as well. I've trained hundreds of other people to do just the same. I've helped to create teams of pleasure experts at some of the most exclusive spas in the country. We've gone through huge shipments of the most expensive ingredients available, and we've mastered the use of the latest cutting-edge equipment. But in the end it's not the fancy ingredients or special equipment that really matters. It's something else.
What is the secret ingredient of any truly superior spa treatment? It's not salt from remote Bulgaria; it's not clay from the Pacific Rim; it's not the precious oil distilled from the fragile petals of a beautiful rose in France.
The secret ingredient is people.
The reason guests leave a weekend's or a week's stay at a spa relaxed, rejuvenated, refreshed, and glowing with health is because they have made the choice to receive, allowing others (the spa experts, therapists, owners, and managers) the opportunity to give. When people visit a spa, they always do so with hope and, whether they know it or not, with the sincere desire to share quality time with other human beings. Nurturing time. Healing time. This book has been created with the sole purpose of introducing you to some new ways in which youcan share quality time with the people you care about and with the person you should care about the most--yourself.
When I started in this business in 1984, many people still thought of spas as "fat farms" or as escapes where they could "dry out" after months and years of living a lifestyle that was the opposite of self-loving. My first job as a spa therapist was in one of these "old-fashioned" establishments. Every half hour a gong would sound in the men's locker room, and a squadron of cigar-smoking old men would shuffle down the tiled corridor in paper slippers and clamber up on narrow tables for a rubdown. All the tables were in a big open room, and there was a lot of good-old-boy joking around and crude male-bonding rituals going on. Twenty-five minutes later the full-body massage was over. The men slumped off the tables, shambled back up the corridor, and got dressed again, preparing to head toward the dining room and another meal of tasteless "diet food."
Believe me, things have changed. Today spas mean pleasure and wholeness, beauty and well-being. They are becoming the place to go as an extension of the healthy lifestyles most of us are attempting to create for ourselves at home.
We no longer "escape" to spas. We bring them home with us.
As you turn the pages of this book, you will learn how guests are treated at some of the most fabled spas in the world, such as the Golden Door, the Sonoma Mission Inn, the Phoenician, Canyon Ranch, and Green Valley. The people you'll read about are the working spa experts themselves, people who have made a career out of treating other people like kings and queens. I'll show you how they bring luxury, peace, and bodily harmony into the lives of the people they touch, and then I'll teach you some simple variations of each type of spa treatment that you can easily re-create at home.
In order to get most of the benefits of a high-tech spa hydro tub, at a very small fraction of the cost, you'll need to remember one key--the Source. When you soak in your bathtub, remember to add the ingredients that will connect you back with nature. The following bath ideas are taken from three of the other chapters in this book. Keep in mind that these are just a few of the possibilities. There are as many therapeutic bath possibilities as there are natural, health-enhancing products found in the world.
Step by Step
1. First, create the ambience. Surround your tub with candles. Hang a fern or other green growing plant nearby. Import your favorite music into the space via Walkman or CD player, being careful not to get any electrical appliances too close to the water. Tape a card with your favorite affirmations to the mirror over your sink. Hang silken scarves around the room. Have a fresh towel within reach of the tub.
2. While you are filling the tub with hot water (104 degrees Fahrenheit is the maximum), sit on the edge of the tub or the closed commode, and give yourself the ten-minute Foot Treatment detailed in Chapter 12.
3. A minute before the tub is filled, add your special Source ingredient right into the flow from the faucet, allowing it to swirl and mix thoroughly into your bath.
For a bath from the sea--Add seaweed powder
For a mud bath--Add powdered clay
For an aromatherapy bath--Add essential oils
4. Step in gingerly, and soak for twenty minutes, remembering to engage all of your senses in the experience. Breathe deeply of the healing aromas. Feel the waters, bringing them up over your shoulders in cupped palms or with your loofah sponge. Let your eyes linger on the candles and other visual stimuli you've provided.
5. When you've finished, rise slowly and pat yourself dry with a towel, leaving some of the bath's moisture and special ingredients to soak into your skin. This is a perfect time to slip into your robe and do nothing for twenty minutes, to make a cup of tea, or if you're extra lucky, to receive a full one-hour Spa Massage.
The art and science of reflexology has become quite advanced in recent years, and many people practice it with great skill. The following mini-routine is meant solely as a means for you to nurture yourself, not to treat disease. The diagram should not be used as a diagnostic tool. Hundreds of people have learned similar techniques in the spa workshops I teach all across the country; everyone finds it easy to administer and a delight to receive.
In the diagrams below, you can see which parts of the feet correspond to which parts of the body. Use this as a basic guide. Apply gentle yet firm pressure, mostly with the pads of your thumbs, feeling for any tight spots or "crystals" (calcified deposits of toxins) and concentrating there.
This mini-routine can be used during the foot treatments described in this chapter.
Step by Step
1. Start at the top, with the toes, giving each one a good squeeze and a gentle pull. Pay extra attention to the big toe, using your thumb to "walk" little lines all over its surface, thereby stimulating the head, neck, face, and brain reflexes.
2. Use your knuckles to press against the pads of the feet between the toes.
3. Squeeze the balls of the feet from above and below at the same time, using your thumb below and your index finger on top of the foot. Place your finger in the groove between the bones that run lengthwise along the foot. This stimulates the chest and lung area.
4. Putting both thumbs on the sole, pointing up toward the toes, "spread" the thumbs apart out toward the edges of the foot while squeezing at the same time.
5. Pinch all over the bottom of the heel, pulling and twisting the taut flesh there firmly, but making sure not to hurt.
6. Inch the tip of your thumb up along the arch of the foot from the heel to the big toe, stimulating the reflex for the spine.
7. Use the tips of your fingers to make little circles all around the inner and outer anklebones.
8. Make circles on the sides of the heels.
9. Squeeze up the back of the Achilles tendon and calf with your cupped palm.
10. Finish with gentle kneading and smoothing-out strokes over the whole foot.
Note: Be careful when performing reflexology on pregnant women because certain points near the ankles are said to stimulate premature labor by affecting the ovaries or uterus. To be safe, avoid the ankles and heels entirely, or choose not to perform reflexology on someone whom you know to be pregnant.