Spa Therapies Inspired by Centuries-Old Native American Rituals

mii-amo-spa-treatment[Image: Courtesy of Mii Amo Spa]The number of spa-goers who crave deeply authentic treatments is on the rise. To cater to a growing population seeking a historical twist on traditional therapies, spas are designing treatment protocols with Native American elements that incorporate ways for clients to more closely connect to the Earth. Here’s a sampling of some authentically rooted services, from full-moon celebrations to water journeys.

Native American treatments have always been a part of the fabric at Mii Amo Spa in Sedona, Arizona, but a few months ago, spa director Doreen Young added four weekly arrival and departure rituals. The complimentary ceremonies take place in the spa’s Crystal Grotto— modeled on a traditional kiva ritual room with a red clay floor—and begin with a sage burning to clear the air, send out positive energy and set intentions for the day. One of many inspired menu options is the Spirit of the Full Moon Massage (90 min./$300), during which a full body and scalp massage are preluded by a footbath. “What’s so special about this treatment is that it happens once a month and guests can book the service anytime during the three-day moonlit window,” explains Young, as Native Americans believe that these lunar energies are released the days before, during and after the full moon.

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Nina Ummel, owner of Seattle-based Ummelina Day Spa, has crafted her Taking the Waters Naugh Chez Journey (90 min./$100) to spotlight the Yakama Nation’s affinity for water. “It starts with an aromatic footbath and progresses to hydrotherapy tubs, monsoon and waterfall showers, mineral springs or Oceana baths, and ends in a steam-enhanced rainforest experience,” she says, noting that the herb-, salt- and oil-infused waters, plus the sounds of a swirling, plentiful river, make for a truly unique experience.

skana-spa-treatment-room[Image: Courtesy of Skana Spa]Part of the Turning Stone Resort Casino, Skana Spa in Verona, New York, is owned by the Oneida Indian Nation and steeped in Native American customs. The reception area was designed to look like a traditional Native American longhouse (a type of residential dwelling) and dreamcatchers decorate each treatment room. Many guests elect for the Sage & White Pine Hot Towel Massage (50-80 min./$130-$180). “White pine is seen by the Oneidas as the tree of peace and is a valued botanical for healing fatigue and mental exhaustion,” says spa director Shane Bird, who notes that the spa has chosen to focus on traditionally used herbal blends and essential oils as opposed to recreating rituals.

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Because of the area’s Pueblo History, Native American treatments have been on the menu at Nidah Spa in the Eldorado Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico, since its opening in 2005. One of the more popular services is the Turquoise Gemstone Wrap (80 min./$180), which includes a dry brushing and the application of a blue-green algae clay mask that leaves a temporary turquoise color on the skin. During a scalp and foot massage, turquoise stones— believed to impart healthy energy— are laid on patrons’ hands. “Turquoise signifies life, according to the Pueblo people of the Southwest,” notes spa director Lisa Downey. “And the stone appeals to our clients because it’s traditionally used in healing rituals.”

–by Charu Suri

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