Sunday, November 29, 2009
Founded in the early 1980’s by Harold Dull director of the Harbin School of Shiatsu and Massage in California, Watsu is a magical aquatic massage therapy.
Floating weightlessly in a warm pool the Watsu therapist guides your body through a series of gentle movements and stretches intended to completely relax the body and mind. For those of you who have done any water exercise programs know that working out in water is fabulous as the water supports the entire body and lets you push just that wee bit further without injury. At the heart of Watsu is a combination of shiatsu and ancient Chinese pressure-point therapy intended to help with the bodies energy flow along the meridian points, elements of massage, joint mobilization, muscle stretching and dance are also part of this amazing water therapy.
Many years ago at the height of their popularity I routinely headed for the floatation tanks and found them just amazing. Like floating, Watsu slows your mind down and as your body relaxes in warm water (around 35°C.) you can find yourself in a dream-like state. I found when I floated I could put an idea in my mind and then watch as the idea unraveled, often solving some difficult questions for me. Clearly when you have an opportunity to relax both the mind and the body it helps relieve overall stress and definitely makes for a better sleep! And Spa Girl asks who doesn’t need that!
Watsu is finding a place in many international health and wellness spas as well as in aquatic physiotherapy programmes, aiding recovery from injury, relieving muscular and joint pain and encouraging movement and flexibility.
While I have only participated in Watsu in a dedicated pool, I understand that in Chilean Patagonia and Argentina are some of the best thermal waters with therapeutic effects which combined with Watsu, well lets just say it is an out of body experience.
So if you think this therapy is for you check out hot springs in your area and see if they offer Watsu, if not head to your favourite Spa and Watsu baby, Watsu!
Thursday, November 26, 2009
One of my all time favourite plants for cooking and bathing is rosemary, and as I have said many times, in many different ways, a good bath fixes almost everything. Now if only someone would renovate my bathroom with a jetted soaker tub (preferably copper) I would be in heaven.
On the mend from H1N1 and having some regained energy I decided to dig into that wonderful pail of spa goodies from my friend Indigo and have a decadent rosemary oil body scrub and a hot bath. Oh yes!
Rosemary is known for revival powers, it helps clear the mind and helps with nasal congestion, all good things on the path to recovery. It is known as the herb of remembrance. The plant produces an almost colorless essential oil with a strong, fresh, camphor aroma.
Like a good massage, lightly scrubbing your body in a circular motion with a loofah or textured sponge improves circulation as it cleanses and exfoliates the skin. I always start with my feet and work my way up to hands, arms, shoulders, down the back—you may want help for this area—and then to my tummy towards the heart.
I use one cup of medium Dead Sea salts (not to fine, not to coarse) and 1/2 cup of rosemary oil and mix together in a bowl. Alternatively you can dip your loofah or sponge in the oil then the salts and go from there. I generally stand in the tub because it can be messy. Once I have revitalized my entire body I fill the tub and sink into the hot heavenly smells of the rosemary oil. I also have a few fresh sprigs floating about. The salt will make your skin feel like silk. I then rinse off under the shower and pat dry and use my favourite organic moisturizer—a new woman is born.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Well like many I somehow managed to contract H1N1 and have been feeling pretty crumy! So I went on line to look for some alternative "feel good" remedies and of course it's never to late for those wonderful age-old essential oils. Several oils have considerable anti- viral activity, and help to boost the immune system. For maximum effectiveness, it is important that you use them at the earliest sign of influenza or in some cases before contracting cold/flu to boost your immune system as a preventative.
Essential oils of basil, eucalyptus, peppermint, and pine help to ease nasal congestion. Choose one to three of these oils and use them as inhalants or in steam inhalation treatments.
For chest congestion, a steam inhalation treatment made with basil, pine, and/ or tea tree oil can help to clear mucus and ease breathing. Rubbing a massage oil prepared with these oils over the chest may also be helpful.
An aromatherapy bath prepared with elemi, myrrh, pine, and/ or tea tree oil can help to soothe achy feeling all over your body that accompanies flu. Use a lukewarm bath for fever, a hot bath for chills.
To stop the spread of airborne viruses during the flu season:
Protect yourself from others by gargling daily with 1 drop each of the essential oils of tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) and lemon in a glass of warm water; stir well before each mouthful. Do not swallow.
Mix a blend of essential oils to use in your diffuser or for use in steam inhalation.
ravensare - 3 parts
naiouli or eucalyptus - 1 part
lemon - 1 part
rosewood - 1 part
lavender - 1 part
Ravensare and naiouli have antiviral properties, while the other essential oils in the blend act as antiseptics while at the same time providing a wonderful aroma.
Add about 50 drops of the above blend to your diffuser at a time.
Fumigate the house with oils to help prevent the spread of flu. Put 2-3 drops on a radiator to evaporate or add 10 drops of essential oils to a small plant spray filled with water. Spray the room frequently.
Add six to eight drops of the above blend to a bowl of just-boiled water. Place a towel over your head and inhale. Repeat this treatment two or three times a day, if necessary.
Add 3 drops of rosemary and 3 drops of ginger or black pepper essential oils to your bath.
Mix 5 drops of ravensare and 15 drops of rosewood in ½ ounce of carrier oil such as olive or almond. This makes an energizing massage oil blend.
Other Essential Oils Useful for Flu:
Tea Tree oil
If you come down with the flu, add 10 to 20 drops of tea tree to hot water and take a hot bath. This may help your immune system fight the viral infection and ease your symptoms. Use a pure, unadulterated form of tea tree oil; adulterated forms can be irritating to the skin.
To help alleviate and disinfect dry air passages, add 10 drops of tea tree oil to a bowl of hot water or vaporizer and leave in bedroom overnight. A small handkerchief sprinkled with a few drops of the oil and left under the pillow may help as well.
Caution: Do Not Overdo this. Prolonged inhalation of essential oils can cause an enlarged liver.
If you have a congested nose or chest, add a few drops of essential oils of eucalyptus globulus (E. globulus) or peppermint (Mentha piperita) to a steam vaporizer.
Caution: If you are asthmatic, be cautious the first time you try this; if you have not been exposed to essential oils before, inhaling the vapor may actually precipitate an attack.
Spa Girl says feel better and take care during this flu season!
Sunday, November 1, 2009
I have traveled to Ireland more than any other country in the world, other than perhaps the USA, and I quite simply love this enchanted emerald isle. One of my dreams (when I win the lottery) is to open a spa in one of the many old historic houses, with its rambling gardens, which dot the Irish landscape.
This picture is one of many of my favourite heritage sites, the Mussenden Temple on the Downhill Estate, Northern Ireland.Traveling in both the North and South of Ireland, whether by car, train, boat or bike is a real treat, the people are wonderful, the landscape incredible and the history engaging. On one occasion, after reading about them in a book, I dropped everything and drove right across the island in order to take a hot saltwater seaweed bath. Seaweed baths are very popular in Ireland dating back to Edwardian times. If you have never tried a seaweed bath it is worth the trip! On one such outing I came across a local company which has created the most heavenly seaweed based skin care products.
Seavite, a company producing organic skincare products is one of Galway’s pride and joys. Founded in 1993 by the late Patrick, a marine scientist and Kaye Mulrooney, Sevite is a family owned business. Its medical directors are the Mulrooney daughters, Jane and Katherine, both doctors specializing in dermatology. Their brother James is the company’s financial director and strategist.
Seaweed is well-known for its therapeutic properties. Scientific studies confirm seaweed helps reduce stress, relieves dry skin and is also good for soothing muscle aches and joint stiffness. Michael Guiry’s Seaweed Site provides some great information and benefits of seaweed: http://www.seaweed.ie/index.html
Kilcullen’s bath house situated on the eastern end of the Enniscrone seafront is one of Ireland’s oldest seaweed bath houses. http://www.kilcullenseaweedbaths.com/ The bathhouse still has the original enormous glazed porcelain tubs and solid brass Edwardian taps. You can book a double room with a steam box and two bath tubs so you can enjoy a nice hot steam before jumping into your bath with your favourite side-kick. Not only did my partner love it he sang to me as the air filled with the briny smells of the sea—is this romantic or what! If however, the idea of taking a hot saltwater seaweed bath is not appealing you can opt to enjoy the natural ingredients of Seavite instead.
Needless to say I was delighted when a package arrived on my door step last Christmas full of Seavite products, thanks honey. It’s almost Christmas again!
For more information on the array of great products available from Seavite just click on the link http://www.seavite.ie/