Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spring Cleaning for your Body!

While in Portland last week, Louise, Stella, and I all went to the Korean Jade Sauna in Beaverton - a women's traditional cleansing experience. It is advertised as "no frills" and there is quite a bit of no-frilling about it (see picture - it's a re-cycled 70's rancher!). Still, an exhilarating and refreshing time was had by all three of us - and we agreed to do this as a "Spring Cleanse" every year!
First you take a shower, then, still wet, go lie down in the Salt Room:

The Salt Room is layered about 3-4 inches deep with Sea Salt and a cloth on top - pillows about the room are also filled with salt. And, it's warmed up to about 100 degrees. You lie down for about 45 minutes, and relax while the salt draws out your toxins. The bags at the top of the photo on the shelf are bags of mugwort - they are also strewn all about the spa - and make things nicely fragrant. Here's a bit of Wikipedia on the properties of MugWort!
After the cherry trees bloom in Korea, hordes of bonneted grandmothers collect wild mugwort. It is a common seasoning in Korean soups and pancakes. Known as a blood cleanser, it is believed to have different medicinal properties depending on the region it is collected. In some regions, mugwort thins the blood, while in another region, it is proposed to have hallucigenic properties, leading to some bonneted grandmothers passing out from direct skin contact (dermal absorption) with the active chemicals. For this reason, Koreans also wear a silk sleeve when picking mugwort plants.

In the Middle Ages Mugwort was used as part of a herbal mixture called gruit, used in the flavoring of beer before the widespread introduction of hops. Once again, it is possible that drinkers of the beer were not only intoxicated from the beer, but also from the hallucinogenic properties of the plant.


Well, it was certainly relaxing at the least!
After you are nicely toasted from the salt room, you proceed to the steam sauna room for another 10-15 minutes before climbing on the Exfoliation table!

One of the Spa attendants - in a swimsuit- comes to help you, and using exfoliating mitts, they scrub you down . . . . all over. I mean all.over.everywhere. The scrubbing is interspersed with buckets of warm or cold water being thrown over you to rinse you down. If you have jiggly bits, they just hold them down firmly with one hand while scrubbing away with the other hand. From your toes to your head on the backside, the left side, the right side and the front side. This goes on for about 30 minutes or more - and about 10 minutes into it, you realize that those flying pieces of gradeau is really your skin coming off!!!( maybe the Mugwort helps delay the realization)

After you have shed your skin, another shower/soap/shampoo/conditioner and then a brief visit to the dry sauna is dictated.Then, at long last - to the JADE SAUNA room - the floors are large pieces of jade stone; 1 ton of natural jade rocks from a mine in CheonChun Province . Here's their recommendation about this experience:
"After a few minutes, you should start to feel warm and relaxed. After sitting in this room, we recommend not showering again. You will have perspired but your skin will not be sticky. Just dry off with a tower." We couldn't find a tower, so we just used a towel....


2 1/2 hours after beginning the process, we were not only not sticky - we smelled enticingly of mugwort, our skin glistened, our butts were softer than they'd been since babyhood, my knees were so clean and "new" they shone.
If you see something glowing over Western Montana for the next few nights - that's me!!

Next time, I might pony up the extra $25 for the "tea chair" -a port-a-potty seat over a steaming crockpot full of more mugwort to gently steam-douche those delicate parts. But only if I can convince them to set it up somewhere other than in the (rather public) hallway. The only thing missing was being served champagne and fruit! I give this Jade Sauna Experience ***** stars :)

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