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I’ve been dreaming up things I can do–and you too if you’re so inclined–to bring back more of the inner sparkle to these end-of-year days and nights.
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST CARYN MIRRIAM-GOLDBERG
I love the magazine articles about spas–the one in Northern California where they soak you in a tub of some king of fragrant grasses that cleanse your soul, or the big sky of stars spa in Arizona where you lie beside a pool at dusk, sipping on a celery-spinach shake that tastes like heaven while the pool boy serenades you in Italian. Yet outrageous expense aside, who has time to go on such retreats?
Still, I yearn to go to such places and get away from the days of December, heavy with holiday commercialism and someone else’s family traditions, for a celebration of the shortest day and retreat from the longest meal up ahead. So I’ve been dreaming up things I can do–and you too if you’re so inclined–to bring back more of the inner sparkle to these end-of-year days and nights.
For me, spa time needs to be in fits and starts, little oases to thread through my life, so consider doing any of this all at once or here and there. A few things first: get yourself some fancy fruit, yogurt and bath products (see more details below), some books and articles you’ve been wanting to read to replenish your imagination, and as much time alone as you can wrangle.
How To Make Your Own Spa Day
Spa Breakfast Go to the fridge, and from where you hid your tropical fruit salad (so that your husband/wife/child/parent/friend wouldn’t have eaten it), excavate it. Spread out the fruit on a beautiful glass or antique plate. Aim for a good combination of colors: I recommend slices of kiwi, strawberries, red grapes, some sliced mango if you can get it, a smattering of blueberries and raspberries. Unlodge the hidden Greek yogurt from the back of the fridge. Make yourself some exquisite tea (green with mint and mango perhaps?) or, if you’re so inclined, hazelnut coffee with hazelnut coconut milk creamer and some whipped cream. Whatever you have, take your breakfast to a quiet and clean room in your house that you love, perhaps one you don’t spend much time in normally, and if you like, have a great magazine (such as this one) or collection of spiritual writings to read (I love Pema Chodron and any autobiography of a Tibetan nun or monk I can find). Put your feet up, eat your breakfast, read and relax.
Spa Yoga Either go to an excellent yoga class you love or do yoga on your own at home, but aim for at least 90 minutes. You are at the spa, and it’s your job now to simply do this. (Note: Some of you will opt to do yoga before breakfast….or to wait a little after eating before yoga class.)
Spa Lunch If you’re out and about, go to a restaurant you like but maybe don’t visit much (too expensive or out-of-the-way, but now is the time to do this, and think of how much travel time and money you’re saving by not going to Sedona). Either meet a friend you dearly love, and even better if she’s doing spa day too (with you or on her own), or bring a great book. Eat light, aiming for lots of fruits and vegetables, lean meats (if you’re not a vegetarian), a diversity of color and texture. Savor it.
Spa Workout Either take a long walk, run or bike ride, or go to a gym and work out on the elliptical and/or treadmill and/or stair-stepper. Or go to a pool (indoors if you’re in Kansas or Montana, but maybe outdoors in Tucson), and swim. Or take a Zumba class or just dance like crazy in your own living room to Jimmy Hendrix and Bruce Springsteen and Annie Lennox. Do something aerobic for at least 30 minutes.
Massage Schedule a massage with an excellent massage therapist. Maybe try a hot stone massage (especially if you live in a cold climate). Don’t eat for an hour or two beforehand, and afterwards, drink a lot of water. Breathe slow and deep.
Journal Time Open your journal (what? you don’t have a journal? go buy one that you love — I recommend the Paperblanks journals; they’re beautiful and open flat). Write a long list of everything you have, have experienced, or know that you’re grateful for at this moment. If you feel so inclined, pluck something off the list, and write the story of it in your life (such as why I love tea with milk because it’s what a grandfather and I drank together).
Spa Dinner Bring something in from a gourmet-type take-out place. See if you can get someone you live with to serve you too. Light candles. Play music. Relax.
Spa Movie Watch something uplifting and joyful on your own or with your family, friends or beloved. Aim for the tale of someone’s spiritual journey. You might consider getting a Spiritual Cinema Circle CD (many have an uplifting short film or two, short documentary and feature film). Other ideas: Whale Rider, Wings of Desire, Seven Years in Tibet, or one of your favorites.
Spa Bath lock the bathroom door (this is the most important). Light candles around the tub, which, as you fill, can be infused with the essential oils (I love eucalyptus and sweet orange) or bath salts of your choice. Turn down or off the lights, and carefully (since you have candles around the tub), slip into the water. If possible, have music that soothes you and that you love playing loud enough to vanish the rest of the world. Soak and relax. Or sing along. Or read something uplifting. Stay until your fingers and toes are shriveled up some.
After-Bath Treatment Adorn yourself with lotions of your choice. Or exfoliate something (bottoms of feet, hands, face) and then gently message in moisturizer that smells fantastic to you. Take your time. Afterwards, put on very soft and comfortable pajamas (or a nightgown). Aim for fabrics such as fleece, flannel or, if you’re so inclined, silk. Wear fuzzy slippers, and then step back out into the world.
Spa Dreamtime Climb into bed with a great novel (I recommend Katherine Towler’s Evening Ferry trilogy — wonderful stories of a Rhode Island island community during the 1940s, 1960s and 1980s). Read by lamplight for a while. Before bed, light a scented candle or apply some essential oil behind your ears and under your nose. Dream happily.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.