spa glossary

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Cultivate your understanding of standard spa practices and massage techniques.


acupuncture

Part of traditional Chinese medicine in which tiny, fine needles are lightly inserted in the skin to increase the flow of energy and help the body heal itself.

alexander technique

A method of realigning the body to improve posture, relieve tension and realign the internal organs.

aqua aerobics

Aerobic exercises performed in a pool using the support and resistance of the water to burn fat, strengthen bones, and increase cardiovascular activity. The buoyancy of the water reduces the chance of injuring joints or muscles.

aromatherapy

Treatments such as massage, facials, body wraps, or hydrobaths that include the application of fragrant essential oils, each used for a specific therapeutic benefit.

ayurveda

One of the oldest medical disciplines in the world. Founded in India and now stretching worldwide, it incorporates a variety of techniques from meditation to massage, diet and herbal medicines.

balneotherapy

The use of underwater massage to stimulate, massage and relieve tension in the body.

bowen therapy

A powerful, complementary, non-intrusive therapy, which is used in aiding the body to help heal itself of aches and pains.

cathiodermie

Low-voltage electrical stimulation of facial area used to oxygenate the skin, stimulate and revitalize circulation.

cranio-sacral therapy

A gentle therapy that focuses on the connection between the skull and the base of the spine, and helps release trapped spinal fluid.

crystal healing

The use of crystals to help highlight and draw out imbalanced energies from the body.

dead sea mud treatment

An application of mineral-rich mud from the Dead Sea. Used to detoxify skin and body, and to ease painful symptoms of rheumatism and arthritis.

dry brush

A brushing of the skin with a natural-bristle brush to remove dead skin and impurities while stimulating circulation, part of the preparation for massage, wraps or body masks.

exfoliation

A process by which the top layer of dead skin cells is sloughed off the face or body via dry-brushing, scrubs, or other exfoliation techniques.

four-handed/synchronized massage (balinese massage)

A massage performed by two therapists using synchronized movements along the body.

hammam

A Turkish or middle-Eastern bathing area which uses steam, water, and oils.

herbal wrap

A treatment in which moisture, heat, and herbal essences penetrate the skin while the body is wrapped in hot linens, plastic sheets, and blankets. It is intended to promote muscle relaxation and the elimination of toxins.

hydrotherapy

Treatments using water incorporating underwater massage, jet blitzes, showers and/or mineral baths.

indian head massage

An ayurvedic therapy in which medicated oils are used in a vigorous head and scalp massage. It increases circulation, exfoliates the scalp and nourishes the hair.

jet blitz

A thalassotherapy treatment in which pressurized seawater is administered via a controlled hose. Each area of the body is massaged in turn to help boost circulation and break down fatty tissue.

laconium

Similar to a sauna, where dry heat is used to relax muscles and help draw out toxins.

la stone/hot stone therapy

A relaxing treatment with roots in Native American culture designed to relieve stiffness and soreness and restore energy. Smooth, volcanic stones are heated and then used with oil in massage.

lomi-lomi

A Polynesian healing treatment incorporating long and broad massage strokes, as well as a rocking motion. This treatment can be quite vigorous, as the therapist uses forearms and elbows as well as hands.

lymph or lymphatic drainage

A special type of massage where a gentle pumping technique is used to help drain away pockets of water retention and blocked toxins.

marma massage

A type of massage where the strokes work on the body's energy channels to release blockages and help circulation.

moor mud baths

A natural preparation of mud that is rich in organic matter, proteins, vitamins, and trace minerals, used to help ease aches and pains.

paraffin treatment

A treatment in which heated paraffin wax is brushed over the body, feet or hands. It is used as a heat pack to help eliminate toxins as well as softening the skin.

pilates

Devised by Dr Joseph Pilates to help damaged dancers, it is a series of precise movements performed on a specially designed apparatus to help strengthen and re-align the body as well as aiding flexibility. Exercises can also be done on a floor mat, but are not as effective

qi jong/qugong/chi kong

A Chinese medical discipline combining movement and breathing exercises to help strengthen both body and mind.

reflexology

An ancient Chinese technique that uses pressure-point massage (usually on the feet, but also on the hands and ears) to restore the flow of energy throughout the entire body.

reiki

A gentle and restorative Japanese technique involving the placing of hands on the body to help the energy flow.

sauna

Dry heat administered in a wooden room to open the pores, relax muscles, and eliminate toxins.

seaweed wrap

A wrap or mask of concentrated seawater and seaweed, which helps release toxins and revitalize the skin.

shiatsu

An acupressure massage technique developed in Japan. The therapist applies pressure to specific points in the body to stimulate and unblock "meridians" or energy channels.

steam room or tepidarium

Similar to a Turkish bath where hot steam is used to help relax the body and eliminate toxins.

swedish massage

The classic massage technique of manipulating muscles with the use of massage oils. It helps ease aching muscles, improve circulation and help relaxation.

tai chi

A Chinese martial art of stylized gestures regulated by deep breathing and graceful movement.

tamazcal

A traditional Mayan sweatlodge where the heat helps body to relax, opens the pores, and helps in elimination of toxins.

thai massage

A non-oil massage treatment performed over light cotton pajamas. A manipulation of the body using yoga like stretching, pummeling, kneading as well as exerting pressure along the body's energy channels to help release blockages and soothe tight limbs and muscles.

thalassotherapy

From the Greek for sea, “thalassa,” and treatment, “therapia,” all the treatments use seawater and seawater products such as seaweed and algae. True thalassotherapy centers are located by the sea where the water, algae and mud are especially treated and purified for inclusion in the therapies.

tuina

A traditional Chinese medicinal massage in which the body is pulled, pounded, pummeled, and rolled. It works on the body's energy channels and helps release blocked energies. Vigorous, and not for the timid.

vichy shower

A light, rain like shower, which is often used in combination with massage.

wai cru

The spiritual dimension of Thai boxing, which engages the mind as well as physical movements.

watsu

A shiatsu massage treatment performed in a warm pool where the therapist holds and moves the limbs.

yoga

An ancient Hindu discipline comprising focused deep breathing, stretching and toning the body using various positions designed to improve circulation, flexibility and strength. A philosophical approach to balancing the body and mind.

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