aromatherapy

What is the right Spa for me?

Spa.   The Oxford English Dictionary defines this in two ways:

  1. A place or resort with a mineral spring
  2. A commercial establishment offering health & beauty treatments through such means as steam baths, exercise equipment and massage.

This can be further broken down into different commercial spas:

  1. Destination spas
  2. Spa Resorts
  3. Days Spas

So far, so confusing.   Let’s take a closer look at each spa to understand what each one offers  🙂

 

DESTINATION SPAS:

Destination Spas are residential facilities that concentrate on improving health and fitness through exercise, nutrition, spa treatments and thermal wellbeing. They are all about relaxation and rejuvenation and learning how to live a healthy life.    The spa is the destination, you are there for a reason and that is to spa and nothing else!  You can stay for as long as you want, from days to months if budget allows!  The aim is to restore your health and vitality.

Six Senses Yao-noi Spa, Thailand

The cost usually includes all meals, exercise classes and some spa treatments, but obviously check before you book.

They are staffed by experts in various disciplines e.g yoga or nutrition or herbal medicine, and promote a healthy and active lifestyle during your stay.   Some personalise therapies to their guests so that they gain optimum benefit from their time there.

Children aren’t normally welcome in a destination spa.  It is however suitable for people travelling alone but who want to spend time with like-minded people and for couples.

 

SPA RESORTS:

A spa resort caters more for families in a hotel situation and is less focused on an all-encompassing health and wellness experience.   The spa treatments are usually only one part of the stay which can include outdoor pools, tennis, cycling and golf.   They are likely to have a suite of saunas and steam rooms with maybe an ice room or plunge pool alongside a gym for guests to use during their stay.

Treetop Sauna, Centre Parcs, Sherwood Forest

At a spa resort the focus is on enjoying yourself, eat and drink healthy if you like, but if you don’t there are other options available on the menu!

Some spa resorts can also act as a day spa, whereby access is allowed to day guests who aren’t residents of the hotel.

 

DAY SPAS:

As the name suggests, these aren’t residential – you literally visit a day spa for a day without any overnight accommodation.

They usually have a variety of pampering facilities for the guest to experience such as massages, beauty therapies and holistic treatments and have thermal rooms and swimming pools. Gym facilities are very common now too.   Packages generally include a treatment and lunch or afternoon tea.

 

Pennyhill Park Spa

Day spas vary in price depending on what treatments they can offer.   Some may just offer manicures and massage alongside a sauna, steam room and jacuzzi, whilst others offer a full range of treatments, some even including more ‘medical’ ones such as Botox and laser facials, with a selection of thermal wellbeing rooms and pools.

A lot of day spas are attached to hotels or country clubs and allow guests to stay at the hotel if they wish and then revisit again the next day.

http://www.sixsenses.com/resorts/yao-noi/spa

http://www.centerparcs.co.uk/thingstodo/aqua_sana.jsp

https://www.exclusive.co.uk/the-spa/

Wellbeing in the City – ESPA at The Corinthia

The Corinthia is a luxury 5 star spa hotel set in the centre of London, just a short walk from Trafalgar Square.   When we were invited to visit from Magdi Abdelaty, the Spa Operations Manager, we jumped at the chance to experience the renowned Espa facilities first hand.

espa-life

The spa spreads out over 4 floors, including15 treatment rooms, a gym, hair salon and a Thermal Floor with heat experience rooms and pools. The décor is luxurious and relaxing mood lighting sets the ambience to an almost decadent level.

Our evening began with a leisurely swim in the shimmering silver stainless steel pool followed by a cool shower. We then took a ball of ice from the fountain and headed to the Amphitheatre sauna, set down into the floor with a spectacular suspended ceiling.   When the heat became slightly too much, we headed outside for more ice, bringing it back with us to the sauna and letting it melt over our bodies as we sat there!   The frameless glass sauna walls allowed us to watch the mesmerising flames of the nearby fire set within the wall.

david de vleeschauwer

david de vleeschauwer

the-vitality-pool-espa-life-at-corinthia-copy

 

sauna-at-corinthia

Next on our thermal journey was a visit to the Vitality Pool with its built-in loungers and powerful swan neck fountains.   This provided full relaxation for mind and body whilst relieving tired and aching muscles.  After the warmth of the pool, it was time to cool down again in the Dornbracht ‘Big Rain’ shower before moving on to the glamorous black mosaic tiled steam room to relax in clouds of fragranced steam.

david de vleeschauwer

david de vleeschauwer

We repeated the above journey before settling onto the heated marble relaxation loungers by another fireplace, luxuriating in the warmth of the beds and the glow of the fire.

spa-2a-1

Eventually it was time to get changed and take part in the real world again.   But our journey of relaxation and luxury wasn’t over yet.   The changing rooms had a sauna in the Ladies Area and a Tepidarium in the Men’s.    And both rooms had sleeping pods, small booths with cushions and blankets where you could take a revitalising nap or even meditate in private.  A totally private oasis with no distractions in the middle of a bustling, busy city!

We all agreed it was a wonderfully relaxing experience.   Favourite part?  The sauna got a lot of votes due to its innovative design and the sleep pods were a definite hit!

 

For more information please visit:

https://www.espalifeatcorinthia.com/

Tel:                  +44(0) 20 7321 3050

Email:             espalife.london@corinthia.com

For more information on thermal wellbeing and how to gain optimum benefit from your thermal journey please visit:

http://www.dromuk.com/online/dromology/

Goodnight, Sleep Tight ….

Sleep is one of the biggest contributing factors to excellent physical and mental health and wellbeing but its importance is sometimes overshadowed by the media focus on healthy eating and exercise. Insufficient sleep can impact quite detrimentally on your health in a variety of different ways.

_90143896_thinkstockphotos-504373738

copyright: ThinkStockMedia

The amount of sleep we need varies from person to person, but on average the majority of us need about 8 hours a night. Young children and teens may need more as sleep supports their growth and development.  When we sleep our brains have the chance to repair and rebalance the hormones that govern the emotions that help us to stay calm, relaxed and happy.  It corrects any chemical imbalances and leaves us rested therefore we are more alert and energetic when we wake.

Studies show that a consistent lack of sleep can also lead to weight gain. Tiredness can cause your brain to crave high calorie foods for energy but when your body is tired, it isn’t as effective at breaking down fat cells and tissues, so fat is stored more easily.   You are less likely to want to exercise due to low energy and general sluggishness. According to a leading insomnia specialist, Kathryn Pinkham, a good night’s sleep can balance out the hormone fluctuations that provoke appetite.

Our immune system needs sleep to be able to function properly.  If we don’t get enough sleep it can affect how the it responds to infection, making it harder to fight off coughs and colds for example.  However, you can boost your immune system by using a sauna or steam room where the heat dilates blood vessels thereby increasing circulation throughout the body.    The heat can also help to relax you leading to better sleep.

DROM_0235

Kelo Sauna Room – Dröm UK Ltd

Sleep can also help to rejuvenate your skin as it rebalances the hydration levels in the body. While we sleep there is a rise in growth hormones which allows damaged cells to be repaired. Lack of sleep results in under eye puffiness, dryness and the appearance of more wrinkles.   It also leads to increased stress hormones in the body which can lead to the increase in the breakdown of collagen which gives the skin its firmness and translucency.  If the skin cells don’t get a chance to repair themselves, the result is a more noticeable sign of ageing.

The less we sleep, the more it affects our mental wellbeing.   According to Mind, the mental health charity,  it can be a vicious circle:  If you have a mental health problem it can affect how you sleep and poor sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health.  Not enough sleep can lead to negative thoughts and can leave you feeling anxious or depressed.    Tiredness can leave you feeling physically and mentally unable to cope with the day ahead, and can be quite isolating as you don’t feel up to socialising with others.

So what is the best way to ensure a good night’s sleep?

There are many suggestions on how to do this and again, it will vary from person to person.   Generally, the time before bed should be calm and relaxed rather than spent in front of a screen with flashing images or loud music!   Take a warm bath, try some breathing exercises, drink warm milk, spray lavender fragrance onto your pillow, or even meditate.  Doing regular physical exercise can also help with sleep.

llavender-collage

 

Avoid caffeine drinks and don’t go to bed either too hungry or too full.   Create a routine of doing the same soothing actions each night so that your body learns it is time to sleep.  Make sure your bedroom is well ventilated and that your mattress and pillows are comfortable.

For more information on the above and how best to combat sleeplessness please visit these websites:

http://www.theinsomniaclinic.co.uk/

http://www.mind.org.uk/

http://www.dromuk.com

 

 

 

 

 

A Bather’s Guide to Thermal Rooms – Part 3 (Saunas)

Thermal bathing is becoming more popular than ever. However, with so many different rooms to use, how do you know which ones will offer you the benefits you are looking for?

Follow our series of blogs designed to explain the look, temperature, useage and benefits of each room and discover the range of experiences and rituals available.

Overview:

In general, sauna rooms are traditionally clad in timber with benches, a wood stove or electric heater and stones.   They are commonly built using Aspen, Alder, Cedar, Spruce, Ash or Kelo timber, some of which can be heat treated to intensify their colour and aroma.   Some rooms have feature walls made from slate or stone and glass can also be used for walls and doors to enhance the feeling of space.   Both LED lighting and fibre optics are used for ambience, relaxation and mood enhancement through chromotherapy.

DROM UPG 005

Some rooms have feature walls made from slate or stone and glass can also be used for walls and doors to enhance the feeling of space.   Both LED lighting and fibre optics are used for ambience, relaxation and mood enhancement through chromotherapy (please see previous blog post Complementary Wellbeing Part 2 – Chromotherapy for more on the benefits of mood lighting).

Traditional (or Finnish) Sauna:

Temp Range:   80 – 100C                             

Percentage Humidity:   10-20%

Traditional (or Finnish) Sauna

Traditional (or Finnish) Sauna

A traditional sauna is a hot, dry room with wooden benches, typically in two tiers.   The lower benches are always cooler than the top benches, often by about 20 degrees.  Ensure you find a temperature to bathe in that is comfortable for you.   Small amounts of water can be ladled onto the stones to increase the humidity for a short period of time.  Add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to the water (if you can – not all commercial spas will allow it), infusing the steam created with your chosen fragrance.

Benefits:

The high temperature in the sauna releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers, sometimes referred to as ‘happy hormones’.  Endorphins can ease the pain of arthritis and relieve muscle soreness after intense exercise.     Sweating caused by high temperatures opens the skin’s pores and helps reduce levels of toxins and impurities in the body, eliminating waste and reducing the load put on the kidneys.  Sauna bathing also lowers blood pressure temporarily and improves circulation as the blood cells dilate, increasing the oxygen levels around the body.

Banya (or Russian Bathing):

Temperature Range:      70-110⁰C

Percentage Humidity:   40-70%

DROM_0235

Banya (or Russian Bathing)

A Banya traditionally incorporates a wood burning heater.  Water is generously ladled onto hot stones, or even thrown at the walls, to increase the humidity in the room.  To protect the head from overheating in the high temperatures, bathers often wear Sauna hats which can first be dipped in water to aid the cooling process.    Often a massage is carried out using a fragrant bundle of thin leafy twigs bound together called a Venik, or Vihta.  This is said to release toxins through the skin, ease muscle tension and improve blood circulation.

Venik Massage:

Venik

Venik bundle

There are several techniques involved in a Venik massage – waggling, compressing, stroking and lashing.  It is best to use these techniques one after the other.

Waggle – flutter the Venik just above the body to create an air flow that warms the body up for more intense procedures.

Stroking – gently press the Venik against the body and draw it from head to toe and back again.

Compress – raise the Venik up to the warmer air, shake it to gather the heat, then press firmly against the body for 2-3 seconds

Lashing:  Light sliding hits with the Venik.

Alternate the stroking and lashing, then combine compressing and lashing – lash the body two or three times and then press against the body for 2-3 seconds.  Generally, this is carried out by an experienced masseuse.

Benefits:             The same as for a Traditional Sauna.

Herbal Sauna:

Temperature Range:      50-70⁰C

Percentage Humidity:   25-40%

Herbal Sauna 1

Herbal Sauna

An herbal sauna is very similar to a traditional sauna, although is often slightly cooler.  Fresh or dried herbs of your choice are put into a small amount of water in a bowl or dish suspended over the heater stones.    In commercial saunas, a tray of herbs is placed above the heater and water is dripped over the herbs from a tap.    As the herbs heat up in the water, their aroma is released gently into the room.

As in the traditional sauna, the lower benches are always cooler than the top benches so bathe where you feel the most comfortable.   Ladle water over the stones to increase humidity for short periods.

 

Sauna Master (or Aufgiesser)

Several spa’s employ a Sauna Master to enhance the bathing experience of their guests.   It is impossible to give an exact description of what they do as each Sauna Master will have their own techniques and rituals.  However the experience will always involve aromatherapy and heat manipulation.

Generally, the Sauna Master will pour water enriched with essential oils onto the hot stones, creating a burst of scented steam, releasing the health properties of each essence.  This makes the air more humid and the heat feels more intense.

They will start waving a towel, using different movements, to agitate the hot air and circulate it around the sauna, intensifying the sensation of heat.  Then they fan the bathers by wafting the towel in front of them creating a wave of heat that rushes over their body.  The bathers breathe deeply, inhaling the healing vapours of the essences.

The Sauna Master will encourage bathers to leave and cool down before repeating the process several times.

 

 

 

For more information on bathing rituals click here:  http://www.dromuk.com/online/dromology

 

 

Complementary Wellbeing – Part 3: Crystals

At Dröm UK, we love a crystal 🙂  As well as displaying them in our beautiful roomsets in the Showroom, we also have them on our desks to help with our positivity and creativity on a daily basis.

People have known for centuries about the healing power and properties of crystals. Ancient civilisations used crystals to promote wellbeing, attract riches and love and also to ward off evil. In the modern world, scientists have looked for logical explanations as to how and why crystals work. Quantum theory suggests that everything is made up of energy which vibrates at a certain frequency. So in simple terms, when a crystal vibrates within our personal energy field (for example, if we are holding it), it creates a larger vibrational field within our frequency which can affect our physical health in a positive, healing way. (For more information on this please visit Stephanie Lucas’ excellent blog at http://www.QuantumStones.com).

Selenite and Rose Quartz

Selenite and Rose Quartz

 

Smoky Quartz

Smoky Quartz

Relaxing in a sauna or steam room without modern day distractions like smartphones and computers is the perfect time to incorporate a little meditation and holistic healing into your day. As well as chromotherapy and aromatherapy (as discussed in previous blogs) placing a crystal in the room has many healing benefits. Crystals can balance or stimulate energies, help relieve stress and depression, promote self-belief and encourage abundance in all things. They can give out positive energy and absorb negative energy.   Crystal points or wands can be used to direct this energy – when they are arranged pointing outwards it is directed away from the body and when pointing inwards they are drawing it in.   Crystal spheres or balls send energy in all directions equally.

IMG_0322

Sage smudge stick

It is always a good idea to cleanse your crystals regularly as they can store various emotions, not always positive, from being handled. There are several different ways of doing this. Holding the crystals under running water and leaving them in the sunlight or moonlight can both cleanse and energise them or cleanse them by ‘smudging’ which is passing them through the smoke of a bundle of sage or an incense stick. You can also use other crystals to cleanse stones – clear quartz is good for this, and citrine is excellent as it is a self-cleansing stone. Always check that your crystal is not porous before leaving it in water for any length of time as you don’t want to damage it. There are loads of websites that detail other cleansing methods. Find the one that works best for you.

Once your crystal is cleansed and energised, it is ready for use! Here is a brief list of some of the more commonly used crystals and their benefits:

Amethyst:   Calming, balancing, healing, promotes inner peace and emotional stability, relieves stress, aids sleep.

Beautiful Amethyst Geode

Agate: Balances universal forces, soothes, calms, builds self confidence, heals anger.

Citrine:  Emotionally balancing.  Dispels negative energy.  Brings good fortune.  Enhances communication.  Raises self esteem.  Useful for meditation.

Clear Quartz: Balancing, calming, promotes harmony and healing, amplifies energies, encourages clarity.

Labradorite: Reduces stress and anxiety.  Calming.  Enhances intuition and dispels negativity. Stimulates the imagination.

Lapis Lazuli:  Harmony, clarity, self confidence.  Relieves stress and helps alleviate feelings of depression.

Orange Calcite:  Helps to relieve feelings of depression.  Restores mental & emotional equilibrium.  Promotes laughter and happiness.

Rose Quartz:  Opens the heart chakra. Strong energy, friendship, love.  Restores trust. Lowers stress, eases feelings of guilt.

IMG_0318

Rose Quartz Sphere with Amethyst

Selenite:  Promotes mental clarity and honesty.  Dispels negativity.

Sodalite:  Boosts self-esteem and trust.

Clear Quartz can be used to increase any of the energies of other crystals.   Another way of amplifying crystal energy is to create a grid – this can be more powerful than just using a single stone.  Place crystals in a geometric pattern so that they work together to direct vibrational energy towards fulfilling a specific goal.  Some examples of grids can be found at http://meanings.crystalsandjewelry.com/free-crystal-grids/.   We have created some grids in our wellbeing rooms to create an even more peaceful, relaxing ambience within.

Always buy a crystal that resonates with you.  Hold it, feel it, meditate lightly with it.   If it doesn’t do anything for you then leave it in the shop.

There are many excellent websites to explore that will go into more detail about a wider variety of crystals and how they can be used to benefit our personal wellbeing.

 

 

Complementary Wellbeing – Part 1: Aromatherapy

Wellbeing extends beyond the physical.   Psychological and spiritual wellness is also important to assist in coping with the stresses of everyday life.

Aromatherapy, Chromotherapy and Crystals are just a few of the ‘alternative’ therapies that can be combined with the more traditional wellbeing experiences to achieve a fuller sense of relaxation or stimulation.

In this Wellbeing mini-series, we first take a look at Aromatherapy in more detail and will cover Chromotherapy and Crystals in future blog posts.

 

Aromatherapy:

“Smell is a potent wizard that transports us across thousands of miles and all the years we have lived.” Helen Keller

Aromatherapy is the use of aromatic plant extracts and essential oils to promote physical and psychological wellbeing. Essential oil is the liquid distilled from the aromatic substances within various parts of a plant, which contains its healing properties.

Aroma blog

Smell is a very powerful sense.   It is believed that the inhalation of essential oils stimulate the section of the brain that is connected to smell, which in turn sends a signal to the section of the brain that controls emotions and memories.   This causes the release of chemicals which can relax or invigorate you.  The mind is an important healing tool and can strongly influence your health and wellbeing.  One of the more significant aspects of aromatherapy is that the odour is pleasing to the user, as pleasure is an essential part of enhancing our feeling of wellbeing.

Some of the more commonly used essential oils include Lavender, Pine Needle, Lemon, Peppermint and Eucalyptus.   These are used to calm or invigorate, heal and balance.   For example, Lavender is perfect to help relax and calm any fears.   Eucalyptus and Pine Needle help to find relief from infections, coughs and colds and also relieve aches, pains and fatigue. The citrus oils are uplifting and refreshing, helping with depression and anxiety.

BISHOPSHEATH_009

Lavender to calm and relax

Most oils have antiseptic properties and can fight infections and bacteria.   They can also stimulate the immune and circulatory systems and aid digestion and work on the energy system of the body. The cost of essential oils can vary greatly depending on the rarity of the plant.  Factors such as the country of origin and growing conditions can also affect the price.

When relaxing in a sauna add a few drops of essential oil to the water before it is sprinkled over the stones or add some fresh or dried herbs to a bowl of water suspended above the heater.   As the herbs heat up their aroma is released gently into the air.   Choose an oil to enhance or complement your mood. Essential oils work particularly well in steam rooms as the oil is gently infused into the steam, filling the room with your chosen fragrance.

Aromatherapy is not restricted to inhalation. Oils can also be applied directly to the skin by an aromatherapist, where they can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream.    There are many excellent websites that can give detailed information regarding aromatherapy  and how it can be used to benefit our personal wellbeing. It is always advisable to obtain advice from a qualified aromatherapist or doctor before using essential oils, particularly if you are pregnant or have medical problems.