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Spas for Summer
Three Spas for Summer Pampering and Wellness
by Nirmala Nataraj on May 23, 2008
Summer’s around the corner, but getting prepared for sandal weather is about more than making sure your nail polish isn’t chipped and the soles of your feet aren’t scaly. The following three spas all approach beauty and well-being with the kind of originality, attention to detail, and holistic techniques that’ll make you do an about-face when it comes to how you think about pampering.
Chez Shivy Spa
In the spa world, Siobhan Cunningham stands as one of those rare Jane-of-all-trades who does it all: massage, facials, and even a detoxifying footbath that’ll transform all your preconceived notions about “fluffy” spa luxuries. Cunningham’s unpretentious studio, Chez Shivy, is tucked away in a residential area of the Inner Sunset and offers a passel of tantalizing treats, so it’s easy to while away lots of time here, especially under the ministrations of a knowledgeable, attentive therapist who isn’t rushing to get you off the table and out the door in time for her two o’clock.
While Cunningham does hedonism like few other big-name spas, you might want to pass on the customary offerings if you have a time limit and opt for Chez Shivy’s inimitable detoxifying footbath. The way it works is that a gentle microcurrent creates an ionic footbath, and a salt conductor is used to move that current up and through the body. This helps neutralize and pull out toxins, taking the body back to a balanced pH level.
The warm footbath is relaxing enough but the fact that it sends your body into a three-day detox that you can’t even feel is what takes the cake. Unlike herbal detoxes that upset the organs and place additional stresses on the body, Chez Shivy’s 30-minute ionic footbath removes toxins without making you feel queasy or out of balance. In fact, several of Cunningham’s clients—including cancer patients and people who’ve experienced severe lead poisoning—report feeling better almost immediately after a footbath (although the typical regimen is a series of 10, a week apart from each other, which leaves your body toxin-free for roughly six months). Cunningham, who was initially skeptical about the treatment, first encountered it while working at anacupuncture and healing clinic; today, she’s witnessed firsthand its effectiveness in everything from combating the flu to removing metals from the body to getting rid of parasites.
The fun part? You get to discern what’s coming out of your body depending on the colors the water turns (e.g., orange denotes build-up in the joints, brown or black means that toxins are getting pulled from the liver, green points to the gallbladder, and a white foam floating on top of the water indicates excess yeast in the body). If that weren’t enough, a footbath is followed by a sleep-inducing reflexology massage and warm lavender paraffin dip. After all, while Cunningham might be running a healing center, a little luxe treatment is always appreciated.
Cocoon Urban Day Spa
Rincon Hill’s new pit stop for luxury is the kind of place where you can lounge as luxuriously as a cat while getting the most epicurean mani/pedi in town, and head out to the establishment’s boutique after your pampering session to shop for gorgeous trinkets, handbags, skincare, and yogawear. Spa meets shopping—can there be anything more hedonistic?
Cocoon Urban Day Spa is the brainchild of skincare specialist Sarah Redmond, whose international roots inform the medley of services you’ll find here. And it truly is that quintessential oasis tucked away from the ravages of urban life. An intimate, softly lit space for skincare and massage makes a nice contrast with the airy, sunlight-filled mani/pedi lounge. Among the offerings here are traditional Indian head massage, full-service waxing, luxurious facials (with Sothys Paris skincare products), and vigorous yet calming yoga sessions. Cocoon even offers periodic yoga and wine workshops, conducted in collaboration with downstairs neighbor Local Kitchen and Wine Merchant, and sommelier Mark Bright.
You’ll want to sample a little of everything at Cocoon, but if you can’t, at least take the time to recline in the mani/pedi lounge for perhaps the most lavish and relaxing hand and foot treatment around: the Cocooning Signature Mani and Pedi Combo. Paired with a cup of herbal tea and a plush down blanket, the two-hour-long treatment includes gentle, loving attention to your tips and toes (without the ucky whirlpool foot bath). An exfoliating hand and foot scrub, meticulous nail and cuticle care, steam, paraffin dips, hydrating foot masks, hot towel wraps, and plenty of unrushed, limb-loosening massage make this treatment a delicacy that you’re not apt to find at your typical, factory-style nail spa.
Deep Massage & Bodywork
Sufferers of chronic back pain and other soft tissue disorders may want to skip the fluffy spa massages and head straight for Deep Massage & Bodywork. For the past two and a half years, the therapists at Deep Massage have been empowering pain-addled clients to get better through their holistic approach to the body. Founder Sara Aymami and company specialize in a plethora of modalities with the aim of getting you aligned and in tip-top condition. “It’s about looking at the whole person and getting in touch with what they need at any given point, so everything is customized,” says Aymami, which means that plenty of time is taken to gauge clients’ conditions without cutting into all the luxurious massage time.
Because the massage studio is located in the heart of a multidisciplinary clinic—complete with chiropractors, nurse practitioners, and physical therapists—Aymami says that cross-referrals abound in her work—for example, someone coming to see a chiropractor for a hip injury may very well find themselves getting four sessions of myofascial work from Deep Massage. “We’re really able to help people with injuries get out of pain and fix the problem rather than just get symptomatic relief,” she says. “And with all the different specialists who are treating you from their expertise in a holistic way, it increases the rate at which people get better and see a long-term effect.”
The therapists can use any of several modalities to make your muscles go “ahhh,” but if you’re interested in increasing your range of motion and eliminating pain once and for all, consider myofascial release. Fascia are bands of fibrous connective tissue that bind together various soft structures in the body, and myofascial release is a gentle massage technique that stretches out tightly wound fascia and relieves tension in the body. Also, Deep Massage regulars swear by it.
by Nirmala Nataraj on May 23, 2008