Finally — an annual event in Canberra where we can dive deep into our wardrobes and…
It’s been a while since I last wriggled my nude self across a massage table for undisturbed peace and tranquility. Where my mind escaped the worries of the day and instead travelled to an inner world of my own time and space ladened with stillness. ‘Well, that’s a first world problem‘ you might be muttering to yourself but really when you think of it, the indulgence of bodywork (be it a facial or massage) is not always for the purpose of relaxation.
While I won’t deny that a massage does feel wonderfully relaxing and a facial leaves you a changed woman come the other end of an hour, there are a multitude of health benefits that come from regular holistic pampering. And when you begin to understand these benefits, it becomes apparent that for some a massage or facial is more than just an indulgence, it is a necessity; a way to deal with chronic pain and dysfunction, stress and the negative effects of day-to-day life.
For me, they tend to be a combination of both. Particularly on the day that I visited the treatment rooms of Let’s Be Natural, who have teamed up with Satori Body Care to offer both therapeutic and remedial massages to those who need it and of course, those who love it.
But for those wondering where and what Let’s Be Natural is, it’s a hub for all things natural, wholesome and just darn right good for you, including natural health and beauty treatments.
Let’s Be Natural encourages a holistic approach to your health and wellbeing, and is not your average health food shop. It’s team believe in the benefits of living a healthy and sustainable life, and have made it their mission to help you live in the modern world in a way that promotes your long term health as well as the health of society and the planet. For them it’s about helping you draw on the beauty from within, understand that good health creates happiness and that caring for yourself, others and the planet—all as one—is the future. Something that resonates with me also, (it may for you too), and so when I walked in to the store for another visit, (yes I’m a big fan of this place), I was ready to do just that.
Whether you are in pain or just in need of some time out, a massage will do wonders to anyone’s state of mind. Because let’s face it, there are times when a strong knead is necessary to alleviate the knots from too much time spent at the computer and then there are those where a little escapism is needed to rejuvenate the mind, body and soul.
Coupled with a facial, I was definitely looking forward to the latter (although there were are few tender spots to work out), yet I had no idea what I was in for.
Skilled in re-patterning the body to maintain proper alignment for energy flow and good health, Sarah Balduchelli is the quintessence of lovely, with more than 10 years experience working in the health industry and having graduated from the largest (and best) massage school in America, The Utah College of Massage Therapy.
At least I know I’m going to be in…er…under(?) good hands.
Using a combination of many different modalities, Sarah’s bodywork focuses on mysofascial release work—working with the connective tissue of the body—which she tells me has the potential to attain amazing results especially in the areas of chronic management and rehabilitation.
“I also use specific “connective” strokes and techniques during my massages to re-connect the body and relax the central nervous system,” she says.
“But one thing any massage therapist learns quite quickly is that everyone is very different; there is no formula so the more tools you have in your toolbox the better you can help people. I focus on tailoring every session to the specific needs and goals of every client.”
And that’s exactly what she does. As per the usual process, I complete a questionnaire before wriggling onto the table, but there’s only so much a piece of paper can tell someone about the body and so Sarah asks me a few questions to identify the problem areas of pain and discomfort (if any). Both my left knee and shoulder—guilty as charged. But you certainly don’t need to be experiencing pain to enjoy the magic that is Sarah’s hands.
For the next hour, I feel myself transcend into a deeper state of mind as the sound of the music floats in and out of my conscious stream and the rhythm of Sarah’s strokes work their magic. Despite its street-facing rooms, the muffled sounds of the traffic outside are far away in the distance and although Sarah is focusing mainly on the areas I’ve identified, my body is starting to balance out.
Massages can evoke all kinds of emotion and whether it be the timing of everything happening in my life and around me, or just that I’m an emotional soul, I find myself emerging from the table with wet eyes once the hour is up and willing the massage to last just that little bit longer.
It’s also at this point that I realise I’m in a state of bliss, but really only halfway there.
Wrapping the black and white kimono gown around me, I shuffle into the treatment room across the hall to meet Kristy (Let’s Be Natural’s Assistant Manager and holistic beauty therapist) for my holistic facial treatment.
Originally from Canberra, Kristy has lived between Brisbane, Byron Bay, the Gold Coast and Canberra learning new techniques, undertaking training and study, and feeding her insatiable appetite to know more about holistic wellbeing and beauty. Having suffered from hormonal cystic acne as a teenager and severe endometriosis in her early 20s, Kristy tells me that it was her illness that led her to work in the holistic beauty industry.
“My life, hobbies and passions are natural skincare, makeup, anti-ageing, music and healing,” she says.
“But it wasn’t until my early 30s that things all started coming together; my life experiences and knowledge all came together and I began to develop a few techniques within my treatments.”
Perhaps it is her grounding nature, but no more than five minutes on the Nuage spa table and I find myself drifting into what can only be described as an entrancing ritual of sorts…Everything seems lighter as I feel the stresses of the day leave me and float away. The thing I love most about a treatment such as this, is that even when I find myself in a meditative state far from the realms of reality, there is always clarity about whatever is bothering me, waiting for me when I get off the table.
The binaural beats of the music send me into an induced state of relaxation and although I hear Kristy moving quietly behind and over me as she paints my face with a clay mask in gentle strokes, my mind has found a space of stillness it doesn’t want to leave. At first I think nothing of it, but it feels as though her movements and each application within the facial is perfectly matched to the music playing in the background.
“The cd contains tracks that have delta waves and binaural beats which are claimed to induce relaxation, meditation and other desireable mental states,” Kristy explains.
“There are lot of studies going on about this subject…having been recognised as super important in all relaxation treatments. So if you’re wondering whether the music was chosen specifically to illicit a meditative response than yes it was.”
“As a therapist, I will respond to the music and often ‘sync’ with the client, thus possibly producing the flow you felt and experienced; in may ways it’s healing for the client and myself.”
Through music, lighting and fragrance as well as Kristy’s energy, the treatment takes place in a safe, non-judgemental space that she aims to provide for all her clients. Just one element that makes the experience so unique and different to that your usual facial.
“I believe that through providing a nurturing space and inciting a deep state of relaxation a client can start to achieve some inner stillness,” Kristy says.
“Once you start feeling what this is like you can then relax into it and allow your body’s natural healing ability to take action, becoming aware of whatever it is that needs some attention and healing.”
Not typical of your standard skincare facial, it is clear that I’ve not experienced just any facial but rather a truly unique treatment that focuses on more than just beauty and has its own health benefits.
“To me glowing skin and radiance comes from within,” says Kristy, “…from being healthy in emotions (towards others and yourself), body and spirit.”
“While bodywork (massage) helps people to relax, I find that we also carry a lot of stress and tension in our faces; I realised that beauty is holistic and it’s more than just applying a product on the the face. Beauty comes from health—emotional, spiritual and physical health.”
Although the facial for me, personally, was more than just skin deep, Kristy does use high-quality organic and natural skincare products that are based on plant extracts and synergistic blends of essential oils, in particular Uskincare, as well as active clays and plant-based skin boosters. Depending on the results you are seeking, Kristy can tailor the products she uses based on a discussion about your skin prior to sinking into the comforts of the amazing and comfortable spa table.
Regardless of whether you believe it or not, I’m one for going off the energy of a person and the small gestures and attention to detail (as cliche as it may be) that follow; particularly with an aunt who has been in the beauty industry for 20-odd years. So when it comes to facials I look for the whole package. For me it’s not just about the results I see in the mirror when I look at my face each day, but the bounce in my steps during the days that follow, the radiating glow that I get a glimpse of in my reflection and the newfound energy I have when I wake up each day.
As Kristy says, “The facial is as unique as you; it’s all about you.”
“Hopefully I provide time and space for you to go inside your inner world for an hour or so, reconnect and come back to your world feeling and looking better than ever!”
The author received her massage and facial courtesy of Let’s Be Natural.