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EarthBody Advanced Therapies
Holistic Therapy In Hayes Valley
by Nirmala Nataraj on Nov 25, 2009
Do yourself a favor over the holiday season, and take care of yourself. That doesn’t merely mean acknowledging the tacit cliché by getting the requisite amount of sleep or hitting the gym after slogging your way through the workday. It means expressing gratitude for your life by nurturing yourself completely — body, mind, and spirit.
EarthBody Advanced Therapies is a wellness spa in the heart of Hayes Valley that blends an ecologically sustainable raison d’etre with a keen sensibility for ancient holistic rituals devised especially to attune us to the subtle rhythms of our bodies — especially when they’re all out of whack. A peek into the spa’s atelier of healthfulness is required this season; a foray into one of its treatment rooms is recommended.
Holistic therapist Denmo Ibrahim opened the spa this past August after three years of private practice and nurturing clients who came to her for everything from chronic pain to dealing with stress in a more mindful manner. EarthBody is ideally suited to non-spa types — people who’d much rather forego hastily administered massages and facials in chi chi FiDi boutiques to luxuriate in herbal remedies and leisurely treatments designed to slow you down and take stock of what’s going on.
As soon as you set foot in EarthBody, which inhabits a cozy alcove just off Laguna Street, it’s clear that you’re in a sanctuary that is the perfect locale for services that are more rituals than mere treatments. A plush Middle Eastern motif — Ibrahim’s Egyptian background influences many of the treatments and design choices — an apothecary section that sports handmade soaps and essential oils, and the intoxicating scent of burning incense complement the sensuality of the space. On top of all that, organic products, sustainably harvested wood, bamboo towels, and a medley of other ecologically conscious flourishes make make the experience all the more meaningful.
Therapists at EarthBody are just as multifaceted as the wide selection of treatments, and are trained in both eastern and western healing modalities. You’ll likely get a dose of Reiki or a few yoga stretches in the midst of a deep tissue massage, with some trigger point or Thai thrown in if you need it. You can opt for bodywork that’s anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours long, and always accompanied by luscious grapeseed oil or an antioxidant-packed chamomile cocoa butter that slides effortlessly over careworn muscles). Ibrahim also offers rigorous Body Centering, a style of bodywork that she developed specifically for chronic pain, misalignment, and structural concerns.
Aside from seriously decadent massages, EarthBody’s other treats include organic facials, couples treatments, and epicurean add-ons like hot oil scalp therapy and heated neck therapy, which comes complete wtih eye teas, hot towels, and kink-zapping neck stretches).
I was able to partake in one of EarthBody’s most extravagant herbal rituals, the Full Lotus, a botanical-packed, two-and-a-half-hour treatment that begins with an herbal foot soak, foot reflexology, and some hedonistic exfoliation, to boot. The foot soak transitions into a full-body dry brush exfoliation to slough off dead skin cells, and then comes the major treat — a 90-minute essential oil massage. My therapist, Sky, offered a unique combination of intuitive touch and anatomical know-how that enabled her to deftly work through some of my most convoluted and worked-up knots. Combined with the heated neck therapy and a jaw-loosening facial massage, by the end of my session I felt like a lotus in full bloom.
Sky also plied me with some proper care and feeding tips, which ranged from the obvious (making sure you drink tons of water, since a massage means major detoxing) to the reflective (moving slowly and mindfully, and understanding that bodywork can be transformative when it comes to releasing old energy or creative blocks).
As I sat post-massage sipping herbal tea and nibbling on dates, I thought about why a place like EarthBody is so significant, especially when it comes to cutting through some of the misconceptions that paint spas and holistic centers as peddlers of exorbitant luxury. On the contrary, Ibrahim and her therapists are supplying clients with something far more profound than an hour or two of mindless pampering: gratitude for the body you’re in and the loving discernment to give it the attention it needs. And that is something to definitely give thanks for.
by Nirmala Nataraj on Nov 25, 2009