Whenever you hear the word ‘spa’, do you get the vision of someone lying face-down and getting a massage? If so, you are not alone! Most of us primarily associate a spa with massages. It does include that but spa treatments encompass a lot more. There are a whole range of treatments but the aim behind every one of them is the same, a feeling of wellness and rejuvenation. In the race of life, people are hurrying forward incessantly. In the process, a lot of stress and toxins are getting accumulated in the body. There are times when someone gives you a squeeze on your neck or presses your shoulders and you go, “Ah that felt good”. That’s the reason for heading to a spa. So that the whole body can relax, get rid of pains and aches you didn’t even know were there and to glow with a feeling of well-being. If you thought spa treatments are an extravagance, you may have to rethink; the benefits they confer are many. We are talking about the Five Best Asian Spa Therapies here.
History of Spas
Public baths were popular among Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and many others. People bathed in hot springs, drank mineral-rich water, used mud scrubs, herbal treatments and steam for treatments. Popular social centres sprung up around hot water baths or thermal spring areas. People would head there to relax, unwind and get rid of pains and ailments. Places like Baden Baden, Spa and Bath in Germany are famous as spa destinations for ages. Spas nowadays are even more advanced; they use the best of ancient techniques and modern scientific ideas that have made them wonderful centres to nourish, heal and pamper the body and mind.
General Benefits of Spa Treatments
The major benefit of spa is improvement of blood circulation. All the major organs, particularly the heart gets huge doses of beneficial oxygen as a result. Massages improve the lymph flow thereby increasing immunity. Muscles get relaxed and pains and aches get soothed away. A facial massage literally breathes life into the skin, making it younger and glowing. Removal of accumulated toxins is a major benefit. Toxins that get collected in our body over a period of time are the major causes of most diseases. The last and definitely not the least is that these treatments leave you feeling like a million bucks, rejuvenated and glowing.
Asian Spa Therapies
Asia has a rich tradition of healing and well-being with a strong focus on a holistic approach to wellness. The spiritual traditions of this region have given a deep understanding of the mind-body relationship and any treatment is approached from the angle of rejuvenating the body as well as soothing the mind. Ancient practices and natural ingredients combined with modern scientific wisdom have resulted in amazing therapies with fantastic results. Let us take a look at some of the wonderful therapies used in Asian spas.
Massage is defined as rubbing and kneading of muscles and joints of the body with the hands, especially to relieve pain and tensin. That is putting it basically. Massage is as good as an art form and results in fantastic feeling of well-being and health benefits. Some of the top Asian massage forms are:
Thai Massage: This 2500 years old massage form was practiced by Buddhist monks as a part of Thai medicine. It involves deep, rhythmic and stretching movements of the entire body resulting in an intensely invigorating massage through yoga-like postures.
WLT recommends: Check out: The Royal Thai Massage at Dahra Beauty and Spa, Bangkok (500 Baht for 1 hour)
Ayurvedic Massage – Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of medicine, which believes in the balance of mind, body and spirit in harmony with nature. It believes that all beings are affected by three ‘doshas’ (vata, pitta, kapha) or energy imbalances and these are the results of diseases. Any ayurvedic treatment identifies and treats the specific ‘dosha’ of the individual. Essential oils suited to the individual doshas are used for massaging the body in kneading, pounding or clapping movements using hands, fingers or elbows. Detoxification, relaxation and rejuvenation result in a blissful feeling of well-being.
WLT recommends: Ayurvedic massage at Nagarjuna Ayurvedic Centre, Okkal Po, Kalady Kalady Ernakulam, Kerala, the Cochin Ayurvedic Centre.
Hot Stone Therapy
This ancient form of therapy has been a part of Asian healing traditions for almost 4000 years. It involves the use of heated stones, which are placed along specific parts of the body, usually on the back, along the spinal column. The main function is to aid the flow of energy and circulation, relax muscles and relieve pains, especially back pain. Basalt stones are mainly used due to their ability to energise and retain heat for a longer time.
WLT recommends: Hot Stone Therapy at Gora Kadan Spa in Japan (Y 18,000 for 90 minutes)
Reflexology is defined as the method of stimulating specific pressure points on the feet to effect beneficial changes in other parts of the body and relieve discomfort. The underlying principle here is that the specific pressure points on the feet correspond to certain organs and reflex areas in the body. So applying pressure on a particular point will benefit the corresponding organ and glands in the body. No oil or lotion is used in this treatment. The treatment is aimed at promoting the proper flow of the life energy or ‘Qi’. The treatment relieves pains and helps relaxation.
WLT recommends: Reflexology treatment at the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
This is an ancient method of getting rid of toxins build-up in the body. Toxins are any chemical or harmful substances that affect our body in a negative way. They can enter the body through food, air or water. Chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals, factory emissions are the sources from where toxins can enter our body. Though the body has a mechanism for removing toxins, pollution and wrong food habits result in higher accumulation of toxic materials in the body resulting in ailments. A detox therapy flushes away the toxic materials, helping to rejuvenate the body. Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, Thai medicine all have fantastic detox therapies.
WLT recommends: Detox programmes at The Spa Resorts, Samui Beach, Thailand
A facial is one of the most popular spa therapies. It helps to rejuvenate the face by cleansing, exfoliating, treating pigmentation and generally making the face look younger and more radiant. A variety of creams, lotions, scrubs and masks are used depending on the skin type. Some of the best facials you can get in Asia include:
Rose Quartz Glow: Go for this one at the Ananda Spa in the Himalayas (India) and feel your skin bloom with the use of rose quartz crystals energised in the holy Ganges River. Essential oils of rose, aloe vera and sandalwood dust cleanse, exfoliate and hydrate the skin leaving it nourished and glowing.
Collagen Boost Anti-Ageing Facial: The exclusive Auriga Spa in Singapore offers this facial to promote collagen production and rejuvenate the skin. Carrot, calendula, rosemary are used for cleansing, while honey and jasmine massage the skin. Finally a fantastic instant lift-tightening and brightening mask is used with ingredients including ginseng, aloe, seaweed and horsetail.
KuuSh Detox Cranberry Facial: This facial is available at the Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat in Malaysia. Vitamin C-rich cranberries have a powerful antioxidant and repairing effect and help to brighten the skin naturally.
Aromatherapy facial: As the name suggests, this is an aroma therapy facial done with specific fragrant oils and ingredients suitable for the client’s skin. Try this at the lovely, luxury Mekong Spa where organic products are used with wonderful results.
This pedicure, which originated in Asia, is now a rage all over the world. It uses Doctor Fish (garra rufa carp) to nibble the client’s feet that are immersed in warm water. Instead of sharp tools used to cut away dead skin, the fish are brought into use. The fish slough away the dead cells with tiny nibbles which are quite ticklish. The treatment is concluded with a regular foot massage, scrub and nail-trimming. The whole treatment has a soothing effect and leaves the feet feeling smooth and supple. A word of caution must be sounded here. Some health experts are of the opinion that infection could spread through this process; though they say the risk is very low but it cannot be ruled out. Therefore good salons and spas check the clients’ feet for signs of any cuts and also clean and sanitise tanks thoroughly. You can get a fish pedicure in many Asian countries including Thailand, Malaysia and China.
WLT recommends: Fish reflexology, Underwater World at Sentosa, Singapore (pedicure, foot reflexology and head and shoulder massage).