The Location: The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel, Mumbai
It starts off with the peal of a temple bell and leads into the rhythmic chant of sacred verses. There is no jarring note and no jolt of pain. The ingredients are “beyond organic”; every movement is unhurried and gentle. Designed to soothe mind, body and soul, this treatment is testimony to the fact that pain and gain are not always interlinked – the latter is quite possible without the former, thank you very much! The ritual is built around Ila Skincare, which calls upon ‘vibrational energies’ to soothe, relax and balance the nervous system. Developed by Denise Leicester, a Brit who came to India and fell in love with its culture, traditions and flowers, it offers up a medley of floral and plant extracts, natural mineral oils and salt crystals. There are no synthetic chemicals and all the ingredients are directly sourced from local producers who work in harmony with nature.
For example, the Rose Damascena comes from a farmer in the Himalayas, who grows and distills roses according to centuries-old methods. The water is drawn by solar energy, then mixed with petals in copper vats and heated by natural fire-fuel. The end result is a distillate of Rose Otto with a depth and richness that is so potent, I can smell the fragrance and feel its silken touch a full 12 hours after washing it off. All the products are artisanal and hand blended in accompaniment to energy and balance-imbuing chants that enhance their efficacy.
The treatment encompasses everything from the tips of my toes to the scalp. There’s no pummeling, just rhythmical touches, the idea being to clear blockages in the lymphatic system, which lie just below the skin, trapping toxins before they penetrate the blood stream. It calls on sensuous Kundalini oil (a blend of patchouli, neroli, jasmine, coriander) and relaxing Himalayan herb and salt poultices; all strokes are accompanied by chants that correspond to the various chakras being worked upon at that time. It’s all very gentle and the true effects start manifesting themselves a little while after the treatment is over.
Half an hour later, I am completely spaced out and have to grab the seat to check that it only feels like an out-of-body experience. I am fast asleep halfway back home, and slumber blissfully through the night for the first time in months!
Excerpted from Casaviva India, November 2010