In With the “Om”

bySuzette Hill, contributing writer | October 1, 2003

As little as 10 years ago, Taoism, feng shui, and Ayurveda never would have played in Peoria, Ill., so to speak. But whether it’s a cultural backlash against our high-tech, fast-paced society or a greater awareness of self and others, Westerners are cultivating an appreciation for the ancient Eastern philosophies and practices.

Wise Choice

Based on 4,000 years of body wisdom from India, the Paint Shop’s (Beverly Hills, Calif.) Dharma Pedicures energized the chakras (energy centers in the body) through intense foot massage and color. Owner Julie Serquinia and staff focused on three energy centers, tailoring each choice – Roots, Self, and Love. Dharma Roots centers energy and draws on the power of a person’s basic nature, while Dharma Self recharges the batteries and focuses energies. And who doesn’t need Dharma Love, which opens the heart to love?

Soak and Spritz Away Stress

One of the principle Chinese religions, Tao philosophy embodies the harmony of opposites. Frenchy’s Manicure in Seattle promotes this harmony with the stress-relieving Scen Tao Manicure. Named for the line of Babor skin care products, the Scen Tao Manicure incorporates products formulated with Asian herbs such as green tea and ginseng. Kieran Malone, manager, says it’s one of Frenchy’s most popular services, which she attributes to the appealing scent of the products, the rich hand cream, and the eight-minute hand massage. “The products have a unique, refreshing scent that clients love,” she says. Each manicure ends with a spritz of the Scen Tao body splash on the client’s hands and arms.

Ahh-yurvedic Foot Treat

Most clients of San Diego’s Beauty Kliniek understand and embrace the Ayurvedic philosophy of harmony and balance – especially when it comes to beauty. In fact, the spa developed the Ayurvedic Foot Treatment at the request of spa clients who wanted their Ayurvedic body treatments to extend from head to toe. But according to assistant spa manager and nail department head Jacqueline Cantwell, it’s also popular with regular pedicure clients, many of whom treat themselves every few months.

The service starts with a soak in rosemary and ginger oils to stimulate circulation as well as the olfactory senses, followed by an exfoliation with crushed fennel seeds. Next comes a massage with a blend of ghi (clarified butter) and chickpea flour, followed by a mask with French mud.


Great Karma

A destination resort located in the forested hills of Wisconsin Dells, Wis., Sundara Inn & Spa has developed a line of signature products formulated with organics and plants indigenous to the area known for its scenic red rock bluffs and riverfront. For example, the sandstone used in the Sundara Spa Sandstone Polish is found only in two other places in the world. “The spa is centered on Ayurvedic principles and other beliefs of India,” explains Robert Gerbing, spa manager. “In India, the foot bath is a ritual that goes back thousands of years to show respect to travelers who come to your home.”

Balancing Act

Spa Mizan (Lafayette, La.) lives up to its name (Mizan means “balance” in Arabic) by putting equal emphasis on beauty and well being in all services. Clients who opt for a Chakra Manicure or Chakra pedicure first complete the Aveda Chakra Quiz to evaluate the balance of their chakras, the seven energy writers in the body that according to Ayurvedic principle correspond to certain emotions, characteristics, colors, sounds, aromas, and tastes. The client’s score decrees which Aveda Chakra aroma – motivation, attraction, Equipoise, Fulfillment, Creativity, Intuition, or Bliss – best suits their needs. “Motivation, for example, in balance brings health, security, and prosperity,” explains owner Ginger Louviere.

Hit Me, Baby

Based on the principles of feng shui, the Bamboo Awakening Pedicure at Yamaguchi Salon at Spa Mystique in The Century Plaza Hotel (Los Angeles) keeps clients light on their feet all week. Adapted from Chinese bamboo body massage techniques, the rhythmic slap of long, slender bamboo reeds on the soles and calves stimulates circulation and rejuvenates the mind. The service also includes a generous hands-on massage as well as a green tea body treatment that leaves feet looking as great as they feel. Yamaguchi wholesales the product line and imported bamboo to salons and spas and trains professionals on the technique as well.

Break Old Habits

Clients of Seattle’s Habitude salons got a taste of something new this past August when Inez gray, founder and owner, introduced Try Thai, the first of a seasonal service menu that will rotate the country of focus with seasons. After a guided tour of four different Thai-based sensory experiences – including a visit to the Thai Spirit House, an ice cold toning treatment, reflexology hand massage, and iced tea compress – Ginger lime pedicure clients will take their toes for a dip as the pedicure grates fresh ginger into the water and tops it off with fresh lime slices. “It’s all about drama and the telling of a story,” Gray says, adding that each client also receives a Thai beverage.

Nailing Feng Shui

An ancient Chinese study of the natural environment, feng shui is all about balancing energy. Traditionally that balance has focused on home or office surroundings, but on-the-go Americans need all the balance they can get – particularly when it comes to how they looks and feel. At Heidi Christines’ Ada, Mich.-based salon and spas, CEO and president Patty Elzinga makes feng shui the basis of all client consultations to tailor service recommendations. “Whomever you are bleeds through whatever you do,” Elzinga comments. In nails, that means ‘fire’ personalities rage for hot pinks and reds. “We have taken this ancient, reverent art into a normal, everyday scene that helps our technicians work with clients.”

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