At Nirvana Reflexology Spa, a team of certified reflexologists uses the ancient therapy to relieve ailments and reduce toxins. During reflexology treatments, pressure is applied to specific areas of the feet and hands that are believed to line up with many of the body's internal organs. The treatment, aside from inducing general feelings of relaxation and well-being, has been shown to positively impact everything from migraines and back pain to insomnia and anxiety. For additional soothing, the therapists also administer an herbal tea bath for the feet, since coffee can often leave toes jumpy, and they also work out tension in the neck and scalp, adjusting pressure to each client's comfort level.
Though reflexology shares much in common with acupuncture, it has its own unique properties and origins. Read on to learn more about the practice.
In the early 20th century, you might have been able to identify patients coming from a reflexology appointment by the clothespins on their fingertips. Today’s reflexologists generally carry out their treatments by hand in a wellness clinic or a massage studio, but the principle remains the same: apply pressure to specific points on the hands, feet, or ears, prompting responses in organs throughout the body.
Similar to acupuncture and acupressure, the practice posits that energy pathways run throughout the body. Reflexology’s system, however, is a bit simpler than Chinese medicine’s complex map of meridians. Envision vertical lines running from each toe up through the leg, joining lines running from each finger up the arm toward the neck and coming together in the head, and you have the body divided into 10 attractively slimming reflexology zones. Within each zone on the palm or—most common in reflexology sessions today—the sole, certain pressure points are thought to correspond to organs, joints, or other tissues elsewhere in the same zone.
Dr. William Fitzgerald—originator of the clothespin technique—began practicing what he called “zone therapy” in 1915. While research has yet to find a concrete link between modern medical thought and the millennia-old idea of imperceptible bodily energy, that doesn't mean reflexology can't be relaxing. Patients can expect the benefits of a treatment to include at least those of a good foot massage: increased circulation, relieved muscle tension, and decreased stress and susceptibility to tickle attacks. Even early proponents of the technique accepted that results might vary from person to person. Writing in 1928, physician Bernard Lust was content with claiming that “the adoption of the method is attended with absolutely no danger or disagreeable results, and may be the means of lengthening short lives and making good health catching.”
Amber light glows against the earth-toned walls of Tea Spa Wellness Center's waiting area, a tranquil cove that foreshadows the pampering services patrons are about to enjoy. Inside private treatment rooms, the spa's licensed massage therapists use essential oils, hot towels, and long, warming strokes during the spa's signature massage, or employ smooth heated rocks to unblock energy pathways and boost circulation during hot-stone massages. Tea Spa also provides a reprieve from the harshly lit outside world with custom facials that use Guinot skin-care products to deep-cleanse and tone skin or fade away signs of aging. Meanwhile, an infrared sauna helps clients sweat out toxins. All these amenities add up to Tea Spa being voted to the Washingtonian magazine's list of "Great Day Spas 2013".
Fonghsien Lu Chang's holistic medical training has taken her from Taiwan and China to the Mid-Atlantic, where she performs acupuncture and acupressure treatments on aching and ailing bodies. She supplements many of her needling and kneading therapies with traditional Chinese herbal regimens and specializes in treating concerns such as hormonal imbalances, weight loss, and acute cases of cooties. Electro-therapy treatments help manage certain types of pain, and reflexology sessions home in on specific points on the soles.