Saturday, December 23, 2017

Recipes for Aching Feet

Photo: Pixabay.com

My feet are killing me. Oh, my aching feet. How often have you moaned those words while rubbing the soles of your poor throbbing feet? If you’ve been running around doing last minute shopping, have aching feet from wearing those fierce party stilettos for hours or have simply been on your feet all day, I’ve got some ways to soothe and smooth tired (or abused) tootsies, as well as rough, dry and cracked skin.

Fill two tubs (or foot baths) one with hot water and the other with cold water.  Make sure to fill both tubs with enough water to cover the feet to ankle level.  (Test the hot water to make sure that it is not so hot that it will scald your feet.*)

Place your feet into the hot water for three minutes, then switch to the cold water for 30 – 40 seconds.  Repeat this two times, ending with the cold water.

Alternating between the hot and cold water is invigorating and will relieve foot fatigue and stimulate circulation.

When you’ve been on your feet all day, lavender is very calming in a foot bath and when used with warm water it also helps you relax while it soothes aching feet. You can soak the feet in 5 – 10 drops of lavender oil and 2 – 3 quarts of warm water or try one of the bath soaks below for additional benefits.

Therapeutic Soak
5 – 10 drops lavender oil
3 quarts warm water
2 tablespoons Epsom salt
Soak feet for 10 – 20 minutes

Sea Salt Soother
5 – 10 drops lavender oil
2 pints of warm water
2 tablespoons sea salt
Soak feet for 10 – 20 minutes

*If you are diabetic, check with your doctor before trying any foot baths.

You can get calluses from pressure or friction from wearing high heels or uncomfortable, too tight shoes. The feet jam into the toes as the feet slide forward while you walk. Here are two ways to treat callused feet:
  • Soak the feet and then use a pumice stone to smooth callused skin.  Massage olive oil or castor oil onto the feet and wear socks overnight.
  • After soaking feet, saturate a cotton ball or pad in vinegar and tape to the callused area and cover the foot (or both feet) with socks overnight. 


Photo: Pixabay.com

Peppermint Candy Cane Foot Scrub

Beautify and stimulate your feet with celebrity manicurist/owner of As U Wish Nail Spa, Skyy Hadley’s at-home Peppermint Candy Cane Foot Scrub:

Ingredients

½ cup coconut oil
3 regular-size candy canes
5-6 drops peppermint essential oil
2 tablespoons fresh peppermint leaves (or peppermint tea leaves)

Directions:
  1. Warm up ½ cup of coconut oil and pour into a small bowl
  2. Crush up 3 regular-sized candy canes as finely as possible.
  3. In another bowl, whisk crushed-up candy canes together with 1 cup of granulated sugar until completely combined.
  4. Mix sugar blend into the bowl containing the coconut oil, making sure to break apart any chunks or pieces with your spoon.
  5. Add in 5-6 drops of peppermint essential oil.
  6. Take 2 tbsp fresh peppermint tea leaves and stir in to the mixture until fully blended.
  7. Work the scrub into your feet and heels for 10 minutes, removing dead skin and smoothing out skin.

Enjoy the refreshing aroma while refreshing and reviving your tired toes.

Refreshing Foot Spray

This foot spray recipe is adapted from Reader’s Digest Natural Remedies for Healthy Living.

Ingredients

2/3 oz peppermint tincture
2/3 oz pot marigold (calendula) tincture
1/3 oz rosemary tincture
10 drops lemon oil
10 drops cypress oil
10 drops peppermint oil
3-½ oz witch hazel

Directions:

Add ingredients to a spray bottle. Shake well before using. Spray to feet during the day as needed.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

How I Was Super-Charged by the World’s First Giant Singing Bowl

I was standing in a private room looking at a huge bronze singing bowl. I was in Lucerne, the third stop on a trip to four regions in Switzerland, staying at the Palace Luzern.  The hotel describes it as the world’s first giant singing bowl and I had signed up for the “ceremony,” an experience that promised a “state of lightness and deep relaxation.” 

Photo: Courtesy of Palace Luzern

The giant bowl is struck, causing 1,000 frequencies to flow through the body and “Every cell unites in harmonious vibration,” states information at the hotel website.

OK. Sure.

The giant singing bowl took 15 years to create.  This process included studying the effects and functions of small traditional Tibetan singing bowls, making the mould for the bowl, which was cast in solid bronze and has a diameter of 1.76 meters and a weight of 1.2 tons.  It had to be housed in this cozy room on the ground floor instead of in the third floor spa (for obvious reasons.)

It has been found that certain vibrational sounds can invoke a deep state of relaxation. These vibrations can also help with meditation, which is why singing bowls or small gongs are sometimes used in certain treatments (especially those for balancing chi (energy) and in yoga.  Singing bowls in particular are used for stress reduction, healing and chakra balancing. 

As the ceremony began, I was offered water to drink in which a jaspis stone from New Zealand had been soaked. Jaspis (or jasper) stones are considered to be healing stones.  It is an ancient stone worn by shamans and priests as it is also considered sacred and offers protection. The power and purpose of the stone can depend on the type and color.  Jaspis stones have been used for focusing and centering the mind in meditation, as well as to alleviate stress, inspire tranquility, peace and calm. The water helps the vibrations go inside the cells, the therapist explained, and is only used at the spa in conjunction with the singing bowl. 

The ceremony is performed while standing inside the bowl or suspended above it in a hammock.  I chose to lie in the hammock. Another journalist was there to experience the ceremony and chose to stand inside the bowl.  I was curious to see if we would have different results.

Photo: Courtesy of Palace Luzern


A ball is pushed up to strike the bowl, using the same type of device that is used to spin a rollercoaster. During the ceremony, which last 10 minutes, I could feel most of the vibratory effects in my head, feet and hands. 

While the other journalist did indeed experience a state of relaxation, I was charged with energy, feeling chi in my hands, the way they often feel when doing Tai Chi.  As I was served more of the water, I asked the therapist about our polar opposite reactions and she explained that the experience gives you what you need. I’m normally calm and quiet, in a relaxed state and often seek out treatments or activities that give me more energy. So that made sense.  I was refreshed and ready to take on the day. (I also became a chatterbox—highly unusual.)  I continued to feel pleasant and serene during the day.  

The 25-minute Classical Ceremony is CHF 85 (Swiss Francs) which is about $86.30, and includes an explanation of the ceremony, a refreshing drink, 10-minute ceremony and relaxation with tea. I’m not sure how many people would go for spending $86 for water, tea and 10-minutes of sound vibration, but for skeptics, it does have a positive effect on the body.  Many locals come in and do the ceremony for relaxation.  For those who are into more traditional spa treatments there are spa packages that include the 25-minute Classical Ceremony along with free use of the spa (gym, sauna, steam, aroma shower and ice fountain) or that include breakfast or lunch, a 90-minute treatment after the ceremony. There are also packages for two, such as Two-Tone (that includes the 25-minute ceremony plus two hours at the spa.)  Find more information about the Giant Singing Bowl Ceremony at the Palace Spa website.

Helpful Links

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Phoenix Legends: A (Pima) Christmas Story

[Storytelling & Song at Sheraton Wild Horse Pass]
Photo: Gerrie Summers

The Storytelling and Song program at a Sheraton desert resort follows the traditions of an Indian ancient culture

There is something magical about the Christmas season in Phoenix, Arizona. Perhaps it is the charming contrast of cacti draped with festive holiday lights sparkling in the deep, darkness of the warm Sonoran desert at night. Or it may be the mystical feel of being on sacred Native American land.

It is also a perfect time to visit and experience a tradition never before shared with the general public. Since 2005, the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort  located in Chandler, a city in Maricopa County, has featured the Storytelling & Song program to share the ancient culture of the Pima and Maricopa tribes with its guests.

Storytelling is an important and valued part of Pima and Maricopa heritage. History is passed down through oral traditions and winter is the only season where storytelling is permitted among the Pima and Maricopa people.

Storytelling & Song takes place in late November through mid-March. It begins in the early evening, taking advantage of the cozy light of a crackling fire inside a large pit, encircled by chairs and created especially for this program.

Among the Pima and Maricopa people, stories were used to convey moral lessons. These stories began to lose their importance when Christianity was introduced -- or, more accurately, imposed upon the tribes as the moral authority. Therefore stories were retold as children's tales, with the moral lessons still intact. Several of the stories and legends are centered on the creation of man and feature desert wildlife as important, mythical characters.

Featured storytellers are members of the Gila River Indian Community, who tell three short stories based on Pima or Maricopa legend and lore, as well as personal stories about their experiences growing up on the surrounding tribal lands.

During a visit back in 2007, Tim Terry, who is a Pima, shared stories taught to him by his grandmother. One was the Pima creation story, which seems to have a number of variations, I guess depending upon who is telling the tale.

Another was the Tree Story, in which an adult tree teaches its child about being a tree. "Make sure you dig your roots deep in the earth, so you'll be grounded and stretch your arms to the sun to grow. You need water for nourishment," the tree tells the child. "It's a big responsibility to be a tree."

As a youth, Terry was taught that (humans) should live in harmony with plants and nature. You need this balance or you'll develop a "sickness," he was told. "You need to be in balance -- how you talk, how you see things, do things. If you shoot something, you thank it for its life because it is giving you life with its life. Thank the plant for planting or thank the plant for giving life to help you live."

There are lessons in each story that is told, he explained, and is the way the children are taught about life. "Everything in life has a story and everything has a song," he said as he concluded the program. "We have to be open to see it and hear it." He then took a handmade flute out of his bag and began to play his grandmother's song, a gentle sound that seemed to blend with a subtle breeze, the caressing rays of a setting sun, taking us to an ancient, spiritual place.

It was called "You Are Always Welcome to My Home."

The Storytelling & Song program is now in its ninth year and will return for the winter at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa, opening with a ceremonial blessing led by Community Elder Robert Stone on Thursday, December 4.

The program takes place from 6pm – 7pm Thursday – Saturday evenings.  Storytelling & Song is complimentary to all Resort and Resort restaurant guests.  The program ends with a closing blessing on the last day of winter, Saturday March 21.

For further information:

               Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort
               Gila River Indian Community
               Visit Phoenix  Website of the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau
               Chandler, Arizona - City of Chandler website, describes the facilities, sights, attractions and cultural traditions of the city.




Sunday, April 10, 2011

Flowmotion Yoga


I took Sarah Tomson Beyer’s flow yoga class, Flowmotion: Find Your Rhythm, What’s Your Flow, when she came to Pure East in Manhattan.

The two-hour class began with warm-up sun salutations and then we were taken through a number of Flowmotion sequences that we would do during the class.

As the class moves forward, the pace of the sequences build and you're supposed to “tune into your rhythm and express your flow.”


Flowmotion is a cross between modern dance and yoga. Beyer has a background in dance and her technique reminds me of a yoga class I used to take on Mondays and Wednesdays at New York Sports Club. That teacher's name was also Sarah and she was a former gymnast and dancer.

Moving through the fluid, and at times therapeutic sequences, makes you feel serene. Unfortunately the room in which we had the class was too small for the number of participants, making the “flow” a bit difficult, and if you're a beginner to yoga (or have been playing hooky from your regular practice) it can be challenging. At the end of class, though, you feel great.

Sarah's studio is based in Park City, Utah, but she often travels, offering classes at various locations throughout the US and abroad. For more information and schedules visit Flowmotionstyle.com.

PHOTOS: Josh Blumental

Also check out Sarah Tomson Beyer's apparel line, meSheeky.


MeSheeky: Apparel for Active Lifestyles

meSheeky is playful loungewear created by yoga instructor Sarah Tomson Beyer for active lifestyles. The apparel line is inspired by a dancer’s warm-up clothes. The soft, stretch jersey fabric makes the clothing perfect for yoga, dance, workouts and travel.




The Trixie skirt has a straight fit, with side slits. $58







Trixie skirt in Berry.










The soft halter-style tank is great for jogging and other activities. $58












Trixie tank in Jet Black.












The Trixie pant has a ruched front and back, is fitted and then flared. $88








Trixie pant in Jet Black.


The Nico skirt has a faux wrap waistband and angular slit and looks great over leggings or yoga pants. $58
Nico skirt in Punch.










The Trixie skirt has a sexy fit for the playful and adventurous woman. $58











Trixie skirt in Wink.







The Odette skirt has a foldover waistband and adjustable drawstring. $64










Odette in Jade.


For more information and to see more styles in the meSheeky collection, visit meSheeky.com.




Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Travel Well

There were three spa treatments introduced at the Island/Spa Magazine-sponsored Travel Well media event that caught my eye.


Tranquil Tongue Twister: Texting Tension Tamer
PHOTO: Courtesy of Mohonk Mountain House

TEXTING TENSION TAMER

As a sufferer of carpal tunnel syndrome, the Texting Tension Tamer: A Massage for Multi-taskers was of particular interest. Therapist Shiloh Pileggi instantly noticed the strain injury in my right wrist. This massage is perfect for those of us who spend excessive time texting or working online. Attention is given to the shoulders, neck and upper back to relieve sore muscles, and the hands and forearms receive extra special care. This 90-minute treatment is offered by the Spa at Mohonk House located in Paltz, New York. Visit www.mohonk.com.




My vision is clear. A soothing massage of the third eye chakra.
PHOTO: Anne Raso

MY INTENTION IS TO HEAD TO THE NEAREST SPA

Mii Amo, the destination spa at Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Arizona, offers the Intentional Aromatherapy Treatment. The spa believes “Massages can become more meaningful when intentions are experienced at the beginning of the treatment.” So if you feel you need clarity, for example, this desired intention is paired with specific essential oils, which will have “a profound effect on your body, mind, heart and soul.” The therapist then incorporates the essential oils into the massage.

At the event the therapist simply massaged the oil into the third eye chakra. The actual 90 -minute session includes gentle dry brushing, a balancing massage with your custom blended oil, and a light wrap with a head, neck and scalp massage.

There are ten intentions from I offer strength. I am a good leader. (Key oil—frankincense) to I will be prosperous. I am confident. (Key oil—sweet orange). I picked My vision is clear. My path is steady. The key oil is lemon peel, which I’ve noticed has been my essential oil of choice in recent aromatherapy treatments.

For further information, visit www.miiamo.com.


Terranea's Nancy Hoffman strikes a tranquil pose at the Travel Well event.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Terranea Resort


THE SPA AT TERRANEA

The Spa at Terranea (Ter-a-NAY-a) recommends different treatments for morning and mid-afternoon based on the circadian rhythm (the body’s natural 24-hour cycle of movement, rest and repair that responds to light and darkness in the environment) to maximize benefits to your well-being. Therapist Nancy Hoffman gave a mini-version of the spa’s 120-minute signature treatment called Flickering Embers, which is recommended for late afternoon and evening. The treatment is done in a room with a fireplace, in the glow of flickering embers. It begins with a warm, detoxifying volcanic ash body wrap, followed with a bath of essential oils and healing magnesium. A balancing abdominal massage of the Hara (the energy center of the body) is next. Warm marine poultices are placed across the lower back, knees and neck.

The massage and poultices alone were deeply relaxing. One can only imagine the effects of the body wrap and bath along with the soothing warmth from the fireplace. That certainly beats a candle! For more information visit www.terranea.com.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Celebrity Life: Cruise Line Targets Fitness for the Body, Mind & Soul

The Path to Enlightenment. A corridor leads to Aqua Spa treatment rooms.
PHOTO: G. Summers

We’ve come a long way from the days when cruise ships were meat markets on the sea. It made perfect sense, especially with those decadent midnight buffets, when workout equipment and fitness classes were introduced. Well, now those waste-producing buffets (and you can take that anyway you like) have been reduced to one special night for passengers to photograph sculptured food and then eat until they explode and/or experience chocolate comas. Today cruise lines are going even further than creating exercise classes for physical health. Now they are concentrating on healthy minds and lifestyles.

Back in October, I was aboard the Celebrity Constellation while it was docked in Bayonne, New Jersey. The Celebrity Cruise line was announcing the creation of Celebrity Life, a program they described as a series of "palate pleasing, intellectually-enriching and life-enhancing programs."


Renew with a selection of facials.
PHOTO: G. Summers

There are three program categories: Savor, Discover and Renew. Savor features wine enrichment events such as tastings and interactive programs. Discover gives guests the opportunity to learn something they’ve always wanted to try but never had time to accomplish (such as learning a language). Renew, which is a program geared toward Tranquil Travelers like myself, has a more goal-oriented approach to classes, with seminars and treatments designed to help guests on their quest to look younger, feel better and live longer.

Renew offers three areas of enrichment within the program: Ageless, Energy and Longevity. Each has its own slate of treatment selections, seminars and workshops.


The Ageless series includes seminars focusing on skin renewal and youth-enhancing lifestyle tips, in addition to the medical spa cosmetic services, such as Botox®, Restylane® and Perlane®, and a selection of anti-aging facials, including a 24-karat gold facial available on Celebrity Equinox, to target fine lines and wrinkles.

Don't you love a gym with an ocean view?

PHOTO: G. Summers

The Energy series is geared toward helping people develop self-awareness and healthier living through nutritional information, wellness assessments and realistic "life prescriptions" that guests can incorporate into their lifestyles once they leave the ship. Also included in this series, of course, are body sculpting and strengthening classes, a "boot camp" course, indoor cycling, and personal training. Also mentioned is gravity training. If that has something to do with keeping things from drooping due to gravity, I know a few people who would look forward to that!



Products allow you to take the Renew experience home.
PHOTO: G. Summers

Longevity presents seminars focusing on stress management, lifestyle enhancements and alternative healing systems such as Chinese medicine. The series also features complimentary consultations with the on board acupuncturist, acupuncture treatments to re-balance the mind and body, in addition to yoga, tai chi and "fab abs" courses.

For more information on the Celebrity Life program visit http://www.celebritycruises.com/.