Happy New Year everyone! I hope you’ve all had a relaxing and enriching end to 2011 and beginning of 2012. Back in early December it occurred to me that I had massaged about 30 people in 2011 but no one had reciprocated on me. I felt that I gave myself a little TLC. To top it off my back and neck had so many knots in it that I could barely lift an arm (I'm only a wee bit exaggerating here). It was definitely time for me to get my own treatment.
With the Neal's Yard Kings Road Spa being a 25-minute walk from my flat (and whose products I was familiar with since they contain a high percentage of organic ingredients) I decided to see what they had on offer. I booked a Detox and Glow package with Aya. Perfect! And it was, about 98% perfect.
The treatment started with a full body brush to stimulate lymphatic drainage and help remove the toxins from my body, of which I imagined there was a lot. Aya brushed my skin very gently, much more gently than I brush my own skin, not soft enough to be ticklish, but soft enough to be distracting. But maybe I'm not being too kind to my skin if I'm brushing it too hard?
I followed Aya's instructions to the letter and after showering into the sauna I went for 20 minutes at 64 degrees Fahrenheit. For many people this probably wouldn't feel hot at all. In fact a lot of other people might be feeling a bit cheated that it's not hot enough at this temperature. Not me! It was perfect, I could breathe normally, my heart rate didn't feel elevated. I felt relaxed. Ahhhhhhh.
My 20 minutes in the sauna passed luxuriously, in fact the machine beeped when there was still 5 minutes to go on the counter. Wait? Was that right? Did I get to stay another 5 minutes or get out immediately when it beeps? When in doubt get out I thought. Then came something entirely unexpected, a knock on the door...
Did I stay too long in the sauna? It seemed impossible. So stark naked I slowly opened the door and stuck my head around it expecting to see Aya. Instead a lady fully dressed in normal cloths (read: not Aya, and furthermore this lady did not look like she was getting a treatment otherwise she would have been in a bathrobe) looked at the confusion on my face apologized and scurried away. Strange but ok, maybe she was looking for the bathroom? (Never mind the fact that the door was clearly marked as a sauna). I set to work rubbing the detox toning oil into my body (still following Aya's instructions to the letter) when no more than 2 minutes later came another knock at the door - what the??? This time it was a different lady dressed in black which I thought might indicate a shop uniform. "Are you going to be long?" she asked to which I responded that I was in the middle of a treatment and shut the door. I quickly and half-heartedly applied the rest of the detox oil, threw on my bathrobe, and dashed back to my treatment room.
“Back already?” Aya asked with surprise when I re-entered the treatment room (she told me that she would be waiting for me outside the sauna/shower room which was further evidence that I had been unnecessarily rushed out of the sauna). I mumbled something incoherent and settled myself back under the safety and comfort of the towels on the massage table. I wanted to put the whole thing behind me. Now I was more than ready for my massage.
Aya worked wonders on my back, neck, and shoulders. I could happily go the rest of my life without having any other body part massaged (well, maybe not my whole life). My back, neck, and shoulders are where I carry all of my tension in life. And I carry a lot of it. It's also where I'm hypercritical of those massaging me and where I take special pride to do a good job on those who I massage. Aya did a brilliant job bringing life back to those areas. I forgot how light it was possible for my back, neck, and shoulders to feel. I instructed her to massage on the slightly harder side of medium which was just perfect. I particularly liked her oblique work (the fleshy bits on either side of the lower back which wrap around to the front) and she did some intense scapula (shoulder blade) work. With all those good strokes it seemed unfathomable to keep dwelling on the sauna trauma but the brain is a powerful organ indeed.
Finally it was time for the facial. I selected from the Neal's Yard Brightening range and warned Aya that she'd have her work cut out for her on the extractions. She went to work cleaning and scrubbing, cleaning and extracting, cleaning and treating, until the Rose Formula Anti-oxident Facial Mask. Then I got a choice of neck, hand or foot massage. I went with feet because they were aching from the 5 inch heels I wore to my company Christmas party 2 days before. I'm glad I chose feet. Aya helped them feel like they hadn't been in a meat grinder for the first time in 48 hours.
Just before the whole wonderful experience was over Aya treated my skin with... As I got dressed I was bummed at how quickly it all flew by. Next I'll show you which products I used Aya told me. You get 15% off the products in the shop. I perked up.
Once back in the shop where I had entered the spa I pretty much bought almost everything Aya used on my face. I have a really difficult time finding products that treat uneven skin tone and sun spots that aren't loaded with toxic chemicals. I had to take advantage in the name of research!
At the cash register who should appear
She probably didn't recognize me in my clothes. She smiled sweetly. When she was out of ear shot I leaned across the till and whispered to Aya what had happened. She looked displeased and said that she had specifically told her not to disturb me. Ok, well I did my part to give the feedback now she could do what she wanted with the info. I felt it was duty to speak up. Afterall how are people to learn if you don't say anything?
All in all it was a wonderful experience. It's a shame that a wee tiny interaction of less than 10 secs could have occupied so much of my thoughts and this blog content. I know for myself as an aromatherapist-in-training that every little detail is so important. It only takes one small thing- the room temperature, the hand pressure, one essential oil in a blend of many to break the lovely massage reverie.
My therapist Aya was brilliant in every way and the facilities were excellent quality so the basics were there. Just one detail around communication between spa and shop staff to work out. Or explain to shop staff what goes on in the treatment rooms.