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Korean Spas and
Korean spas are opening up all over the suburbs of Seattle and are becoming popular
across the country. Isn’t it wonderful that we are blessed with this diversity and the
opportunity to enjoy the wonderful offerings of other cultures? Amazingly, the average
entry cost for day use is $15-$30!
Called Jjimjilbang in Korean, these gender-segregated bath houses date back centuries.
The spas offer varying temperature jacuzzis, cold baths, mineral water baths, steam and
dry saunas, low-lit infrared heated resting rooms which may include Himalayan pink salt,
sand, clay, crystals or other herbs and minerals for balance and deep rest. They also offer
a small restaurant inside with traditional Korean meals. There are also exercise rooms, TV
rooms, massage chairs, places for your laptop and internet - you can make an entire day
stay at these spas.
They also offer various treatments with scrub and massage being the most popular. What
a wonderful way to exfoliate, and finish with a rub down of oil and milk to nourish the skin.
You can also get a fresh cucumber mask to hydrate, cool, and nourish the face. The price
for this 90 minute treatment is $100-$120. It is a wonderful way to rebalance all your
doshas, especially vata.
I make a trip to the Korean Spa roughly every other month and enjoy a couple hours of
restoration with hot and cold tubs, and steam sauna. I always bring my Ayurvedic oils
and give myself a day of ancient Indian rejuvenation a-la ancient Korean.
In lieu of the paid scrub and massage, you can do a similar treatment yourself
- here’s how!
Bring your dosha specific body oil, and a little coconut oil or an
Ayurvedic hair oil.
When you check in at the front desk, ask for an extra towel and purchase a scrubby mitt
($1). Ask for toothbrush and razor if you want those too. If you forgot water, now is the
time to purchase a bottle. Start hydrating yourself as soon as possible.
Great, now you are in.
The first thing to do is to remove all your clothes, place a towel on the floor and give
yourself a nice oil massage (called ‘abhyangha’ in Ayurveda) with your dosha-specific oil.
Start on the legs and, for this time, avoid the feet. Do not get your feet oily or you will
track oil in the spa making it slippery for you and others and the spa owners will not
Make sure to rub the oil in well, taking a good 10-15 minutes to massage yourself. After
thighs and calves, oil the hips, then arms and torso. Give yourself some time to rub out
any sore areas and if you have an injury, now is a great time to rub some pain oil or tiger
balm on that area.
Next, rub some hair or coconut oil into the scalp. This will keep your head cool during the
time in the heated areas, and also benefit your hair, like a hot oil treatment for both
existing hair and new growth. Use sparingly, mostly getting it on the roots and scalp; you
don’t want to be a drippy oily mess!
Take a small bath towel with you and head straight for the steam sauna. Do not go into
the tubs with oil, spa owners will not be happy with you if you do, so when oily, steam
Place the towel down where you will be seated. Now, go and get a pan of cold water.
These spas have plastic pans in the shower area and you can bring one into the steam
room with you. There should be a spigot in the steam room with cold water. If not, get
some from the shower area.
Now with your pan of cold water, have a seat on your towel and enjoy the warm steam as
it softens tension and sore muscles. Again, keep the oil to yourself, not getting any where
others might slip.
Continue massaging the oil into your skin as you warm up. As you start to sweat, you can
keep your head cool by scooping cool water from the pan and sprinkling some on your
The spa experience should leave you feeling rejuvenated, not depleted. If you leave with
a headache or feeling exhausted, you probably got overheated. So following some advice
on heat tolerance is wise.
Duration: Vata and Kapha can stay in the steam sauna longer than Pitta.
Pitta people should leave the sauna after 5-10 minutes. (Pitta people often push
themselves to do things harder, longer, better.) They should sit on a lower bench where it
is less hot. Pitta people are better off stepping out of the steam room when they first feel
they have had enough heat, or better yet just before then.
Vata and Kapha need to follow that rule as well, but since they tend to run cooler, they
will likely last 15 to 20 minutes.
Then go to the shower! Soap off oily areas. This is where I also brush my teeth and shave.
Now is a great time to use the jacuzzi/hot tubs. Following the duration advice for your
dosha stated for the steam room, get out before you get too hot. The cold tub is great for
increasing circulation and reducing inflammation and also for toning the skin. Pitta and
Kapha people can enjoy a longer time in the cold than Vatas. It’s cooling for Pitta and
invigorating stimulation for Kapha’s slow metabolism.
After a good soak in the warm pools (and maybe another trip to the steam room), give
yourself a scrub.
Find the low seated shower area and grab yourself a little plastic stool and pan. Fill the
pan with warm water. You will use this pan of water to rinse your scrub mitt over and
over as you scrub yourself. Use the bar soap, not liquid soap that contains oil and will not
be the best choice here.
Go over each part of your body two or three times scrubbing much the way you do self
massage going straight up and down on the long bones, and round on the hip, shoulder
and knee joints. Don’t forget your feet, hands and neck and be sure to be really gentle
on your face with just light feathery strokes. As you rinse your scrub mitt in the pan of
warm water, you will see a foamy substance forming in the water pan. This is your old skin.
After two or three passes with the scrub mitt, rinse yourself off. You will know you are
done with your scrub when you run your finger along your skin and it squeaks!
Follow with a very light application of oil. Now you can robe up or put on the spa clothes
(provided) and head into the warm rooms for stillness and relaxation. Enjoy feeling the
subtle beneficial effects from the different components of the various rooms you may find:
sand, salt, clay, jade, or amethyst crystals in these quiet rooms. Keep talking to a
minimum. Many people are there to sleep. Try meditation or take a little nap - you will
likely find yourself loosing the sense of time and becoming deeply rested.
There you have it - an economical dosha-balancing mini spa vacation a few miles from
Written by Trish Foss
Edited by Natalie Taylor, Motivational Coach and Career Counselor,
eliminating unnecessary things in lives and homes to make room for causeless joy
Go for it! Get in touch with Natalie and book your session today.
email: firstname.lastname@example.org phone: (510) 435-1699
Himalayan salt bricks line the walls of this room
While the spa areas are gender
segregated, the restaurant is not.
Classic Korean Scrub Massage