Winter package soothes holiday ills

(shanghai daily)
Updated: 2006-12-20 09:54

The Christmas holiday season can be bad news for our body and skin - parties, New Year celebrations, overindulgence in food and the stress of last-minute shopping, leaves little time to take care of ourselves.

To celebrate the season and to help your body get energized and warm this winter, why not indulge in a sophisticated body treatment?

CHI, The Spa at Pudong Shangri-La has created "Winter Journey," a tailor-made package for the season. It is designed to offer a treatment for the colder months, warming the body, relaxing the mind and rejuvenating the skin.

Walking into the spa is like walking into a holistic sanctuary. Everywhere candles flicker a gentle light and the atmosphere of quiet is tangible. The Winter Journey starts before even entering the treatment room.

CHI plays up the Shangri-La identity, which revolves around the century-old healing traditions and rituals found in China and the Himalayas. The treatment rooms are thus tastefully decorated with Himalayan artifacts and design elements, with strict adherence to the Chinese principles of harmony and balance.

The 100-minute journey (1,680 yuan/US$214) started with a welcoming ginger, cinnamon and honey foot soak. After laying down on the treatment bed, a therapist rubbed a Tibetan singing bowl to produce a sound of harmonics and overtones that calmed the mind.

The 10-minute, four-handed soothing foot massage was followed by a back scrub using aromatic cardamom, clove, oregano and honey to warm the system. "The special scrub helps to peel away the top layer of dead skin cells and to improve circulation," said Mary Yip, the spa manager.

She added as winter is cold the body needs to cope with the lower temperature and nourish the yang. "That's why we use those spices to create a scrub which is hot in energetic behavior."

The hot scrub tends to move the qi and blood up and out so in winter the skin can protect the body from the cold environment. Yip said people can easily buy the ingredients in the supermarket and make the same scrub themselves.

The most exciting part, however, was a 90-minute, four-handed massage with the use of hot stones. In this part of the treatment, you get the same benefits of a two-handed, three-hour massage.

I settled my face into the padded hole at the top of the bed, closed my eyes and let the anticipation grow. Two smiling therapists were ready to collectively melt away my every tension. After putting the Himalayan healing stones on my back, each began to massage one of my legs simultaneously.

With both sides of the body worked at the same time, a certain balance was achieved that can't be reached with a regular massage performed by a single therapist.

The therapists were like choreographed dancers, each manning one side of my body then alternating their movements to cover my upper and lower back at once. They precisely synchronized their movements to induce deep relaxation with the application of the stones after the hand massage.

The stones are naturally smooth for gliding movements. They are very dense and can hold heat for a long time. The heat helped to increase the blood circulation.

"Therapists are trained to apply the same pressure and rhythm - to compliment each other in a way," Yip said. "We incorporate the hot stone massage during the treatment to make our clients feel deeply relaxed. Stiff joints benefit a lot from the penetrating heat."

Such four-hand massage can be both calming and invigorating. It was energizing because two therapists covered the whole surface at once; I felt that the weight of four hands and the heat radiating from them as stimulating.

While some people prefer the privacy of a single-therapist massage, many will appreciate the all-encompassing intensity of four hands rubbing at once. By the end, I was slightly disoriented, unsure of how much time had passed.

The Winter Journey package is perfect for the festive season as it can assist in the warming, inspiring and boosting to the yang and immune system. The package is available through March 31. Please reserve at least a day in advance.

Address: 6/F, Tower 2, 33 Fucheng Road
Tel: 021-5877-1503



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