Goodness of sandalwood

The word ‘spa’ instantly conjures up images of a tranquil and relaxing place. So, when I reached JW Marriot’s Spa at JW on a hot afternoon, this is exactly what I was expecting. The serene interiors paid homage to the Orient, with soft soothing music playing in the background. It was as if I had entered another realm altogether. There was no sign of the heat, dust and grime of Bengaluru summer in this cool oasis in the heart of the city.

I was greeted with a refreshing cold tea laced with lemon and ginger. Boinu, my masseuse for the day, welcomed me with a ready smile. I was informed that the treatment chosen for me was the Signature Spa Experience, which was specially designed for the summer. Massages are best done in winters when the body — joints and muscles — require the necessary warmth to battle the stiffness that sets in because of the cold. But I was soon to learn that summer massages are therapeutic, too. They are especially beneficial to fight skin tanning, fatigue, migraines, lethargy and other seasonal ailments.

Going all natural

Designed to make the most of natural local ingredients, the treatment involved the use of subtle lingering scents of sandalwood to calm the body and the mind. My entire treatment was designed around this star ingredient. Sandalwood oil has been an irreplaceable part of our spiritual and cultural ceremonies. In Ayurveda, sandalwood has been used for its healing and energising properties.

After I prepped myself for the treatment, Boinu explained that the first step in the process was exfoliation. In the Signature Spa Experience, a paste of sandalwood and saffron with milk is used for mild exfoliation. The process leaves the entire body smooth and radiant. Boinu started off with soft strokes smearing the scrub, which had a clay-like consistency. As the movement continued, I could feel my muscles relax under her touch. Exfoliation removes the dead skin and opens the pores, allowing them to breathe.

After washing off the scrub, I headed for the real deal. This was touted to be a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. Boinu explained that she would be using a mix of sandalwood essential oil with a base of jojoba oil. She asked me about my problem areas. The lower back and shoulders, of course — the common stress points for most working professionals. What began with a slow mild rubbing of the oil soon picked up the pace and turned into palm walk across the back. I was wary that the fragrance of sandalwood would be overpowering, but I was in for a pleasant surprise as the scent was soothing and not too intense. The oil itself was extremely light on the skin, quite unlike the heavy Ayurvedic oils that leave a greasy layer on the skin.

A calming effect

Sandalwood essential oil is said to rejuvenate and clear stagnant energy, restoring the flow of prana, the life force, to balance the body and mind. Boinu showed her expertise by using effleurage, a technique wherein smooth, circular strokes are used to warm up the muscles. It is predominantly used in Swedish massages. My back and shoulder areas eased up as Boinu applied just the right amount of pressure to release the knots.

Time seemed to stand still at the massage table, as the kneading and wringing of the muscles went from slow to intense. The moving heating pad under the table provided warm relief after every movement. And before I knew it, the massage came to an end with a soothing finish. Post a quick shower, the body felt light and heavy at the same time. The soreness soon gave way to relaxation, and my skin felt soft and supple, like a baby’s.

The 120-minute treatment is not for those who are pressed for time. If you are a working professional looking to detox on weekends, or a busy mom who wants to take some time off, this is definitely a must-try. Clear your mind of all your worries when you hit the massage table, as nirvana takes time.

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Goodness of sandalwood

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