Jenn Guerra is a person of many talents. The certified massage therapist practices numerous forms of bodywork, from the intense pressure of deep-tissue massage to the targeted manipulation of trigger-point therapy and acupressure. But she knows just as much about the spirit as she does the body. She regularly holds spiritual readings in private sessions, at events and parties, and even over the phone, as long as the client’s line isn’t being tied up by someone going on the Internet in 1995. For all of these services, Jenn Guerra can work out of her office or travel directly to clients' homes.
To some, visiting another country is a reprieve from everyday life and an opportunity to learn about another culture. To others, it is a life-changing experience. Jennifer Pritchard’s sojourn in Mysore, India cemented the foundation for what eventually would become The Yoga Shala. During her travels, Jennifer was inspired to return home to create a warm and inviting space for practicing yoga, and is one of a select number of Canadians to receive teaching authorization from the Shri K Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute. At her studio today, which was voted Best of the City in 2010 by readers of Victoria News, she and her team of instructors uphold authentic yoga principles to help students improve their physical and mental well-being.
The Yoga Shala’s curriculum is rooted in the Ashtanga style of yoga, in which practitioners synchronize their breath with postures to build up internal heat, flushing out toxins and convincing the spleen that it’s vacationing in Mexico. The instructors cater classes to beginning and advanced students alike, encouraging them to work at their own pace, detailing easier or more challenging modifications to poses. Advanced-level courses focus on arm balances, deep hip work, back bends, and solidifying core muscles. The Yoga Shala regularly hosts community-building social events, and Acro Yoga and Kirtan Chanting nights are offered twice a month. The studio also offers teacher apprenticeships each season and hosts a yoga tour group retreat with a 200-hour immersion to India each winter.
Tiffany Johnson loves working with her hands, whether she's renovating her home or working the tension out of a patient's back. Her studio, Divine Hands Massage Therapy, is open seven days a week within Soothe Your Soul Healing Center. Inside private treatment rooms, she manipulates muscle tissue with therapeutic and deep-tissue techniques, incorporating hot stones if requested or subliminally suggested. Her roster of services also includes detoxifying body wraps, reflexology, and couples massages delivered in a marigold room atop crimson sheets.
Cozy treatment rooms with exposed-brick walls put patrons' minds and bodies at ease in preparation for detailed pampering. Bella Vera Day Spa's talented beauty gurus coddle mugs masterfully during the 45-minute refresher facial, designed to remind cheeks how to best imitate a baby's bottom. A licensed massage therapist alleviates nagging knots during the 60-minute "not so basic" muscle remix, which uses intuitive, free-flowing strokes to foster deep relaxation. Boots burdened with crying tootsies can acquire peace, quiet, and tiny paintings through an indulgence spa pedicure, which buffs away phalange dirt to make digits glow like lint during cosmic bowling.
Though threading has been among Asia’s most popular depilation methods for thousands of years, it only recently made its way onto the service menus of Western spas. The ancient practice has shown signs of becoming more of a spa mainstay, however, thanks to an eco-friendly process that also manages to stay on good terms with sensitive skin.
For evidence of threading’s rapidly expanding popularity, one need not look further than Brow Shapes' Eastern-inspired treatment menu. When not sculpting brows into precise arches, the spa’s artists rely on their attention to detail to draw henna tattoos that depict flowery swirls, geometric patterns, or extremely detailed public-transit maps. The spa also features a variety of facial massages, each of which can be customized to relieve pain, aid in relaxation, and improve skin tone.
Situated in a historic neighborhood under the shadow of Sequoia National Park, Liza's Day Spa steeps the senses in tranquility with essential-oil aromas, Asian-inspired décor, and the sounds of burbling water. Skilled massage therapists mend tense backs with modalities ranging from Swedish and deep tissue to shiatsu and craniosacral, each helping to eradicate tension, chronic pain, and ill feelings toward mouthy shoulder blades. In a bath of warm, polished stones, patrons wiggle digits to prep them for the gentle shaping and polishing of hot-stone mani-pedis, and diamond-tipped microdermabrasion and custom facials help exfoliate and hydrate the skin.