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The middle of Iowa farm country might not be the first place you'd expect to find the nation's most prominent Ayurvedic health center, but Fairfield isn't your typical Iowa town. The home of the Maharishi University of Management, Fairfield has long been identified with the career of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the guru who introduced the world to Transcendental Meditation. Now as much as a third of the town's population practices Transcendental Meditation every day, according to a 2010 Chicago Tribune article that says visitors to Fairfield "can't help picking up the maharishi vibes."

One major source of those vibes: a 100-acre oasis four miles north of town, where practitioners at the Raj Ayurveda Health Spa educate visitors on the principles of Ayurveda. Surrounded by meadow and woodlands, the Raj has emanated peace and natural healing since its founding in 1993. Its practitioners develop treatment programs in tandem with a council of Ayurvedic experts from India, who base their advice on close readings of the practice's classic ancient texts.

Visits to the center typically begin with an assessment, which consultants use to design appropriate therapeutic regimens. The list of conditions the center treats includes just about any ailment you can think of. There are methods for addressing chronic pain and migraines, insomnia and ulcers, and even the effects of aging.

But tackling specific symptoms is only the beginning. Just as important to the spa is communicating Ayurveda's comprehensive approach to health, which is why it's developed guidelines on diet, yoga, and medicine.

1734 Jasmine Ave.

Permanent Great Looks Salon & Spa?s team of spa technicians enhances exteriors with a comprehensive menu of skin, body, and nail treatments. Manicure services provide customers with nails painted with Shellac polish that protects against chips for up to two weeks, even after wearers build sand castles to store stockpiles of shucked oyster shells. Toes simmer in heated bubble basins before curling up in steamy towels in the pedicure room, and aestheticians stationed in serene private rooms treat skin to body scrubs designed to polish surfaces and stir circulation. The active ingredients in body-scrub formulas range from Dead Sea salt to organic brown sugar steeped with essential oils and more conducive to soft skin than intercepting sneezes from the Marshmallow Man.

1726 Main St.