Traditional Thai artwork brightens the dark-mahogany walls of Thiparpa Thai Massage in the light of chandeliers and flickering candles. From the floor of this flower-studded haven, therapists perform traditional Thai massages atop soft mattresses separated by opaque, glittering curtains. In their signature style, therapists use their bodies to move clients through positions that compress muscles, exercise joints, and mimic the poses of the therapist's childhood rag doll. Therapists can also incorporate Swedish massage and whiffs of aromatherapy. Thiparpa stays open until 9 p.m. daily, which provides patients ample time for a massage after work.
Ten years. That's how long it took the experts at Oceanic Foot Spa to perfect their signature foot massage, which incorporates elements of reflexology to help promote relaxation throughout the body. But the spa's pampering services don't stop at the ankles. Full-body massages treat recipients to soothing Swedish sessions or tension-relieving hot-stone treatments, and facials provide custom cleansing. Once their service ends, clients can sip on goji berry-rose tea and wiggle their freshly de-stressed toes.
The Kneaded Spot specializes not only in familiar massage styles such as the Swedish technique, but also BowenWork, a three-decade-old therapy style invented by famed practitioner Tom Bowen. The outfit's massage services tend to privilege relaxation over pain relief, though massage can still lead to side benefits such as more restful sleep and an end to screaming matches with your trapezius muscle. BowenWork, on the other hand, focuses on alleviating pain, realigning and resetting the body through gentle rolls over precise points in order to aid in recovery from accidents and sports injuries.
At Wat Po Thai Spa, a 2010 nominee for Best Day Spa by Best of LA, technicians bolster well-being with services that range from traditional Thai massage to skincare. The house-specialty Thai Combo fuses Thai massage, Swedish massage, and reflexology into an international amalgamation of relaxation similar to naptime at the UN. Thai massage harnesses compression, stretching, and rocking techniques to improve circulation of vital energy along the body's pathways, and Swedish massage encompasses gentle strokes such as gliding, kneading, and stretching to increase oxygen flow in the blood and forge full-body tension relief. Patrons walk away from massage sessions with relieved stress, allayed aches, increased internal alignment, and enough flexibility to fold bodies into an empty Pringles can at the first sign of danger.
Licensed aesthetician and Bay Area–native Barbara Zaller didn’t always know massage therapy was her calling. After beginning her career as a dental assistant, then taking time off to raise her son, Barbara entered the professional fray once more. From her outpost at Butterfly Yoga, Barbara pampers clients with facials, customized peels, professional teeth whitening, massage therapy, and skin therapy. She swathes faces in luxe products from brands such as Dermalogica and DermaQuest, which she uses to treat acne, rosacea, and damaged skin. Her dexterous fingers ease stress from muscles during Swedish, shiatsu, deep-tissue, and sports massage. She performs specific body work on areas more annoying than a little sister’s obsession with megaphones and complimenting people's work ethics.