The Heat is On

Seeking overall wellbeing while fighting some of the common complaints of desk-dwellers like ourselves, we stumble upon this age-old therapy. Ankita Mamgain explores more.

Balance is perhaps one of the most abused words in the English dictionary, used frequently and inadvertently in a variety of contexts. A key to our existence, balance is what’s lacking in our lives, well for the most part at least. The ‘balanced diet’ is a far fetched suggestion for most and phrases like ‘balance of the mind and body’ are limited to spa and wellness retreat brochures.

But fortunately, no matter how fast-paced our lives may be, there is still room for quick-fixes that can restore equilibrium.

June-2014_Beauty_Review_01Our predominantly sedentary state can lead to a number of ailments, both physical and mental and one kind of therapy that has yielded results over centuries is thermotherapy or heat therapy.

“Give me the power to produce fever, and I will cure all disease,” is a quotation attributed to Hipocrates more than 2,300 years ago. We don’t have to resort to such extremes but from the rays of the sun to the more modern methods of laser and ultrasound, or even a gentle massage, heat can alleviate a wide range of problems.

For me it has always done wonders. Right from a warm hug to a hot-water-bottle, which comes to my rescue almost every month, I can vouch for its instantly calming effects.

Ayurveda, the ancient Indian therapeutic practice, acknowledges its powerful properties, such as promoting circulation, improving digestion and stimulating healing. Ayurvedic practitioners call it Agni-Karma or ‘fire-therapy’.
Today thermotherapy has a range of uses from weight loss to treating depression and even cancer. But here, the focus is on beauty and how a little extra warmth can help you look and feel fabulous.

Many of the heat-centric traditional methods of skin care and rejuvenation have been around for centuries and are still quite popular. Often combining thermal with hydro therapy they are designed to cleanse, invigorate and refresh the mind and body. Here are some of them:

June-2014_Beauty_Review_02Caldarium: The stone floors, walls and curved stone seating of the caldarium is heated to create a calming and purifying effect, allowing the body to heat up gently in a warm, dry environment, releasing toxins and purifying the skin.

Sauna: Heated to a temperature around 80 to 100 degrees Celsius with minimal humidity, this room creates dry and intense heat for a purifying effect on the body. The benefits of a sauna include cleansing and detoxification
of skin, relieving tired aching muscles and joints and increasing circulation. The room can sometimes be infused with herbal essence that helps you relax both emotionally and physically.

Steam: A must for anyone who likes to take care of their skin, it gently eases out muscular tension, relaxes your mind and absorbs toxins from the skin. A few minutes regularly spent in steam room stimulates blood circulation, leaving skin cleansed and radiant as well as being good for natural weight loss.

Infrared body wrap: This treatment is currently very popular. It heats up your body from the inside out, penetrating up to one and half inches deep into the skin and enabling the body to release toxins and melt away body fat. The wraps sculpt your figure into a shapely silhouette contouring the curves, apparently by encouraging bodies to sweat out deeply buried toxins and excess inches. Other benefits include rejuvenated, smooth skin, lessened joint pain, reduced cellulite and an amazing feeling of wellbeing.

Massages: They’ve been around since time immemorial and, when incorporated with thermal elements like hot stones and herbal pouches, have yielded great results in muscle relaxation, pain relief and de-stressing.

June-2014_Beauty_Review_03The popular hot-stone massage has an interesting variant called the Lava Shell treatment and I went over to Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain’s Rimal Spa to try it out. The relaxing one-hour session uses heat, produced
in real sea shells from the South Pacific, to gently massage your body.

Upon arrival I was given a questionnaire to fill in, which took note of my skin type, any allergies and problem areas.

June-2014_Beauty_Review_04I was escorted to the massage room by my attendant Peerya and she showed me the locker, slippers, bathrobe and other shower accoutrements. After taking steam for 10 minutes I was ready for the massage.

Peerya began by running a coarse brush all over my body which she told me awakens the surface nerves and simulates circulation. She then used aromatic oil and Swedish massage movements to ease out the muscles before bringing in the warm and satin-smooth shells.

The heat comes from inside the lava shells via a mixture of a minerals and algae with salt water and essential oils. Combined together, they start a chemical reaction that produces heat for some time.

The massage included a cleansing of the feet with a grainy exfoliator wiped away with hot steamed towels, which felt wonderful!

What I really liked was how the clam shells fit into the palm of her hand, so I could feel both the heat of the clam shell and the touch of her fingertips. It’s primarily a relaxing and soothing massage. For deeper work, hot-stone might be a better choice; also offered at Rimal Spa. For me this relaxing interval was an absolute treat, which left me truly refreshed and energised; a session I wouldn’t really mind shelling out for.

What: Signature Jewels of the Sea massage (Lava Shell massage)
Where: Rimal Spa, Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain
Favourite feature: Apart from the warm smiles that greet you, the balmy touch of the sea shells and the soothing music that makes you drift away to dreamland.

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June 2015: Editor’s Note

Beauty Essentials