Great Day Spas 2013: Our 4 Favorite Holistic Havens

Think a massage or facial should be part of a whole-body wellness experience? These practitioners agree.

Bi Yu Wellness Center and Spa

6238 Montrose Rd., Rockville; 301-493-4911.

A massage with Hyun Martin is a spiritual experience. At the start, Martin urged us to conjure up a serene image—snorkeling was suggested—as a "relaxation visualization." During the hourlong massage, there were other stress busters: deep breathing, chanting "ahhh," and a "singing" crystal meditation bowl placed on the stomach to "help align all of your cells." All the while Martin kneaded muscles, stretched limbs, and gently worked pressure points in her studio overflowing with products, plants, crystals, and natural light.

The treatment was billed as a Signature Massage ($110), and there was variety in the strokes used. No surprise that at the end the catharsis was mental as well as physical.

Of note: All of Martin's treatments—facials, jaw work, body wraps, pulsed-light therapy—have a spiritual component. Her goal is to treat the whole body.

Online booking: Yes.

Organic Plum Studio

5 Loudoun St., SE, Leesburg; 703-967-8719.

In a cushy three-level boutique setting in downtown Leesburg, Organic Plum is an all-natural skin-care haven owned by Lisa Leach, an aesthetician who's been practicing more than 20 years and also happens to be an organic nutritionist and wellness speaker, making her approach to beauty a holistic one. Clients are treated to her warm, attentive style as well as facials with organic products from the Eminence line she favors.

Don't miss her blissful Signature Anti-Aging Treatment ($120), a 90-minute customized facial that includes a peel, serums, and masks; special focus on the eye area, neck, and jaw line; and—to top it all off—a scalp, shoulder, and foot massage that alone may make you feel years younger.

Of note: Holistic nutrition counseling, yoga, and Pilates are available.

Online booking? No.

The Still Point

1 Columbia Ave., Takoma Park, 301-920-0801; 12451 Clarksville Pike (Route 108), Clarksville, 410-531-3245.

When you enter the Still Point, you're asked to remove your shoes and slip into a pair of sandals, to symbolize the transition from the outside world.

The spa's sunny, almost ethereal interior lifts your spirit. Almost every manner of service is offered—facials, naturopathy, reflexology, waxing, acupuncture, eco-makeup, shamanic healing. And there are massages—lots of them: Swedish, hot-stone, acupressure, Shiatsu, Thai, myofascial release, prenatal fertility, and massage training for couples.

For those who like deep-tissue massage, Brigitte Rawlings is a master at reading the body to provide the perfect pressure in a quiet, near-wordless treatment.

Of note: A second location has opened in Clarksville; a third in Highland, Maryland, offers yoga.

Online booking? Yes.

Tulsi Holistic Living

3327 M St., NW; 202-333-7025.

If you're of the mind that a massage should be part of a whole-body wellness experience, a rubdown at Tulsi should soothe your soul.

A center devoted to "natural health"—it has everything from nutritional counseling and acupuncture to shamanic healing and Reiki—Tulsi also offers organic spa services including facials, massage, and hair removal.

The space, painted in a warm moss green, embraces you. In the waiting area are shelves of homeopathic and herbal remedies as well as self-help books with such titles as Protecting Your Health With Probiotics.

A spiritual massage with Holly Arines was terrific. Arines first suggested there be an intention for the session (we chose "stillness"), then gave a massage that not only coaxed tense areas to let go but did produce stillness—despite the occasional car horn from the street below. She worked on areas, such as the stomach and between the breasts, that most therapists skip. After the massage was over and our tester was dressed, Arines came back in to talk about what she'd noticed and to answer any questions—a nice touch.

Of note: Tulsi has a no-tipping policy as well as monthly promotions—our $85 spiritual massage was a special in November—that can make treatments a relative bargain.

Online booking? No.

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