Within a 17th-floor penthouse, Spa J'Adore's wide windows allow rays of sunlight to illuminate Buddha photos, exposed-brick walls, and brilliant orchids. Their décor, a combination of urban chic and zen sensibilities, reflects the massage practice's dual focus on Western and Eastern traditions. To that end, massage therapists are equally adept at deep-tissue and Swedish treatments as modalities from Thailand and Japan. The staff also paints on tans with brushes instead of sprays during body-bronzing sessions, which create a smoother, more natural appearance. After their treatments, clients can lounge on the spa's balcony, sipping herbal tea from heavy clay cups and relaying semaphore messages to hikers on distant mountains.
What happens when a nightclub owner and yoga instructor partner up in a business venture? They create yoga workshops that incorporate heart-pumping bass and dubstep beats spun by the likes of FreQNasty and Rara Avis, in addition to traditional hatha and vinyasa lessons. Tim Dale and Tara Dale helm Yoga Tree, a studio that offers a wide variety of classes and yoga styles so that practitioners can find the style that best fits their practice, and instructors can lead classes in the specialty that speaks to them. And since opening their first studio in 1999, the duo has expanded their business to include six more locations throughout the Bay area to meet the demand for the Yoga Tree experience.
Teacher training courses are also available for those interested in leading their own classes. Students can opt for a 200- or 500-hour program, or elective classes that focus on Tantric yoga, handstands, and holistic Yoga Nidra. Yoga Tree also sells yoga-related products in their store, such as yoga attire, mats, books, and DVDs.
As music plays, white scrims separate Pure Envy Spa Bar’s pedicure stations, where stenciled portraits of Audrey Hepburn hang on sea-green walls. There, visitors plunge feet into baths of dutch cocoa, milk and honey, or water spiked with floating lime slices and mint leaves. Nailcare services are far from the only treatments available—a variety of facials soothe different skin types, and hot stones and oils facilitate massages. Waxing helps remove undesired hair more efficiently than trying to shave with a vegetable peeler. The spa boutique also sells OPI polishes, Yon-Ka Paris skincare products, and gift cards.
When Earthbody looks to hire new massage therapists and licensed aestheticians, it doesn't consider recent graduates—rather, it's looking for people with years of training and experience beneath their belts, and who still love what they do. It wants people who are healers at heart, able to lavish each client with skillful services and attention. Each detail at Earthbody has been carried out with similar mindfulness—from the spa's own line of organic body and facial products, all crafted in small batches in San Francisco, to little luxuries such as heated and infused foot towels and complimentary tea service.
To set the mood, the staff lights soy candles and tea lights, which burn cleanly so that even those with allergies can breathe easily. Surrounded by this soft glow, aestheticians renew skin with facials or treat bodies to massages that not only make muscles feel great but also uproot deep-seated tension. After each session—be it a couples massage or hot-oil Indian scalp treatment—the staff can compost, recycle, or launder everything used during the sessions. Dr. Shawn Goozh, a licensed clinical psychologist, also offers somatic-psychotherapy sessions that use bodywork to deepen traditional psychotherapy.
The staff's attention to detail hasn't gone unnoticed by the media. "This intimate Hayes Valley spot is more healing center than mere day spa," writes the San Francisco Bay Guardian. "Therapists are trained in several modalities and develop custom sessions for every client, including consultations before and after treatment." In 2010, SF Weekly named Earthbody its pick for best day spa, citing its "ecological sustainability and ancient holistic rites."
An oasis of relaxation and nice smells, Qua Foot Spa lets guests sip steaming chrysanthemum or lavender tea as they enjoy foot massages. Sea-salt baths and exfoliating scrubs soften heels and toes roughened from stepping on the rocks that your roommate leaves scattered around the hallway, and reflexology massages aim to restore energy flow through the body’s meridians to relieve tension.