Archive for January, 2011

Blind Spa: In the Land of Massage, the No-eyed Man is King

Monday, January 31st, 2011

blind-man

India is the country with the largest blind population in the world. Of the nearly 40 million blind individuals across the globe, 15 million of them are Indians. How is this possible? India has a severe shortage of optometrists and ophthalmologists, and it also suffers from a lack of donated eyes with which to treat corneal blindness. The truly sad part is that with the majority of cases in India, blindness could have been avoidable if proper care were received.

As with many disabilities, there is a stigma associated with blindness in India; one that prevents the blind from being fully accepted in society, and allowing them to live full and productive lives. The truth is, blind individuals are an incredible resource of untapped potential and one field in which they are being trained is that related to the spa. India is the birthplace of Ayurveda – a comprehensive system of holistic medicine designed to facilitate optimal physical, mental and spiritual well being – and it remains the premier destination in the world for such treatments. An integral part of Ayurveda is massage and many blind individuals are proving to be gifted in this art and science.

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Bathing in Bulgaria

Thursday, January 27th, 2011
Bulgaria

Bulgaria

When most people think of Bulgaria, one of the first things that come to mind is, well, nothing. Bulgaria, unlike titans-of-tourism Italy, France and Greece, is not on the radar of most travelers. How unfortunate it is, being that this Eastern European country is in fact a gem; incredible beaches, uncrowded ski resorts, delectable cuisine and expertly cultivated wines all characterize the nation. Maybe even more surprising to some is the country’s standing as one of the most inviting, and comprehensive, spa and wellness regions in all of Europe.

With over 800 springs varying in chemical compositions and boasting a multitude of healing minerals, curative mud and clay sources gaining their disease-curing properties from the Black Sea, and a climate that facilitates the growth of a plethora of meditative herbs, Bulgaria is undoubtedly one of the premier spa destinations in the world. The country’s history as a healing center dates back to ancient times when the Romans established spa centers in cities including Sofia, Sandanski and Kyustendil. In fact, the Emperor Maximilianus visited Bulgaria simply so he could bathe in a spring and treat his rheumatic disorder.

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Another Epic Hangover? Steam it Away

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

hungover woman

We’re now more than half way through the month of January; for many of us, that means we bailed on our New Year’s resolution to curb our alcohol intake for the year about a week, week-and-a-half ago. As a result, 2011 is well on its way to being yet another year of imbibing great beers, wines and liquors, and also a year of suffering epic hangovers that will make us want to curl up in a tiny little ball and die. So what do you do when Advil, ramen noodles and that old wives’ tale – hair of the dog – fail to make you feel better? Not to worry – just steam your hangover away.

That’s right – nasty hangovers, caused by a number of factors associated with drinking alcohol including the dehydrating effects of ethanol in the alcohol, chemical reactions which impair the liver’s ability to produce glucose to feed the body and brain, and congeners produced during fermentation that exaggerate hangover symptoms, can all be quelled by a gentle steam bath. How is this possible you ask? There are two primary reasons why.

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Ceremonial Steam: Native Sweat Lodges

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011
Sweat Lodge

Hupa Native American Sweat Lodge

Long before modern bath environments offered high-technology steam generators and fixtures, Native American and other native cultures utilized the powerful effects of steam, which they generated in sweat lodges. Native American sweat lodges were typically dome-shaped, circular and built low to the ground. They were made from “living” materials including tree branches and animal skins, and as a result the structures were believed to possess spiritual significance.

In order to power the steam generation within the sweat lodge, rocks were heated up outside, in fire pits, to extremely high degrees. Transported into the sweat lodge utilizing shovels, they were then placed into a pit dugout in the center. The ceremony leader would pour water on the hot rocks, creating steam, elevating the internal temperature of the sweat lodge, and causing participants to sweat. Often traditionally used plants such as sage were placed on the rocks prior to pouring water, adding an aroma and essence to the steam and aiding in purification.
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