There are a variety of must-try experiences in Greater Palm Springs, but for visitors and locals alike looking for rejuvenation of body, mind, and spirit, here are a few you won’t want to miss.
Meaning “science of life,” Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old holistic theory of wellness that originated in India and is based on the belief that mind and body are intimately linked.
In an Ayuvedic Shirodhara treatment, a constant stream of warm plant-based oil (traditionally sesame) is poured on a client's “third eye,” which is located on the forehead between the eyebrows. Said to stimulate the pineal gland and therefore improve the production of melatonin and serotonin, the technique is believed to balance the central nervous system and help with sleep problems, memory loss, poor concentration, chronic headaches, stress, depression, mental tension, and more. The deeply relaxing treatment also includes a head massage with an herbal-infused hair oil.
PHOTOGRAPH BY GETTY IMAGES
Ayuvedic Shirodhara treatment is believed to help with sleep problems, memory loss, poor concentration, chronic headaches, stress, depression, mental tension, and more.
Those looking for more can add on to the experience with a Bindi ($165, 60 minutes), a full-body masque that uses warmed, crushed herbs to cleanse and exfoliate the skin followed by a massage with herb-infused oil, or go for a Nirvana treatment ($225, 90 minutes), which includes a Bindi, Shirodhara, and an herbal wrap to create a comforting and revitalizing Ayurvedic-inspired ritual.
Where: JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa
Cost: $165, 60 minutes (plus any additional treatments)
Book it: 800-255-0848; marriott.com
TWO: Flotation Tank
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to hover in outer space in zero gravity, total silence, and darkness, a session in a flotation tank offers you a taste. First-timers are often amazed at how wonderful it makes them feel.
Without gravity exerting its forces on the body (a high solution of Epsom salt in the water keeps you afloat without any effort), the spine and skeletal structure can begin to decompress. This is great for providing relief to anyone in physical pain or who is looking to recover faster from an injury. It's also beneficial for pregnant moms, providing them with a bit of respite from bearing the extra weight of a child.
But the benefits go even deeper. You literally soak in the magnesium from the Epsom salts, which helps melt any knots in your muscles and calms the nerves.
And then there's the mind. In today's 24/7 world of news, social media posts, texts, and constant activity, our brains are almost always on “go.” Freeing the mind from external stimuli during the session leads to the type of brainwaves created during meditation.
Each flotation pod is in its own room. When you arrive, you’ll be lead to a spa-like room with a shower and instructed to fully wash off and shampoo your hair before getting into the water. You’ll then pull down the clamshell lid of the pod, and he float begins with soft music playing and a faint light; eventually both will go off, leaving you to sink deeply into the bliss of total peace.
Where: Desert Serenity Float
Cost: $79, 60 minutes (specials available for first-timers and for packages)
Book it: 760-699-7301; desertserenityfloat.com
THREE: Sound Bath
Head up to the high desert 20 miles north of Joshua Tree in Landers for an experience truly unique to Greater Palm Springs.
There, you'll find the Integratron, a 38-foot all-wood domed structure that was designed by George Van Tassel (no longer alive) to be an electrostatic generator for the purpose of rejuvenation and time travel. Van Tassel built it precisely where he did because he believed the site to be a geomagnetic vortex. (According to Van Tassel, aliens telepathically sent him the idea for the building.)
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY PALM SPRINGS LIFE ARCHIVES
The Integratron in Landers.
While the structure was never used for Van Tassel’s original purpose, its architecture and all-wood construction provided the second floor with incredible acoustics. Taking advantage of this, the property’s current owners offer 60-minute Sound Baths — perfect for those looking for deep relaxation and inner stillness.
A 60-minute session begins with a brief introduction to the Integratron's history and sound qualities (if you whisper, someone across the room can hear you), followed by a live performance of quartz crystal bowls tuned to the frequencies of the body's chakras.
As you lie reclined on blankets on the floor, you feel the sound vibrations moving through your body as you receive a vibrational "tune up." It might not be exactly what Van Tassel had in mind, but he’d surely approve.
Where: The Integratron
Cost: Public sessions (reservations needed) are $35/person weekdays; $40 weekends & holidays
Book it: 760-364-3126; integratron.com/sound-bath/
FOUR: Detox Retreat
Most ancient cultures had fasting rituals, and many today still practice fasting at certain times of year. Beyond its spiritual aspects, fasting provides the body’s digestive organs with a break from food, freeing up energy that the body can use to start clearing out waste and toxins (by way of the skin, lungs, kidney, colon, and liver). Fortunately, our modern-day culture is catching on.
Even simply fasting from solid foods brings benefit, and drinking only fresh-pressed juices, teas, and pureed vegetable soups provides an opportunity to detox while keeping the body fueled with micronutrients. These vitamins, minerals, and enzymes circulate in the bloodstream, fueling your energy and encouraging weight loss.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY GETTY IMAGES
Drinking only fresh-pressed juices, teas, and pureed vegetable soups provides an opportunity to detox.
At We Care Spa, a destination retreat in Desert Hot Springs, guests can visit for an 8-Day Renewal, a 6-Day Retreat, or a 3-Day Tune-Up while taking part daily in educational and movement classes as well as colonic hydrotherapy, which is the fastest way to flush out waste released from the detox.
Where: We Care Spa
Cost: Varies by length of stay and time of year (see website or call)
Book it: 800-888-2523; wecarespa.com