Need an excuse to refresh? Spring's it. And in the spirit of newness, we wanted to offer more adventuresome options than the average massage. We sampled a few Eastern-inspired services to share our experiences

mukha mystic nirvana

$100
MUKHA CUSTOM COSMETICS AND MEDI-SPA
980 N. High St., Short North
614-294-7546
MukhaSpa.com

As I walked into Mukha, owner Tim Maurer greeted me with a question: "Are you ready for a religious experience?" Was I ever. I was stressed that day. (And week. And month. And year.)

The Mukha Mystic Nirvana is a total-body experience that's sort of a combination of a facial and a massage, peaking with a stream of warm oil being dripped on the third eye (center of the forehead).

As religious experiences go, this one was of the Eastern variety. Maurer employs ancient-Indian Ayurvedic techniques to balance out the different energies, or doshas, in the body. It relaxes you while also upping circulation and flushing out toxins. The premise is that therapists use different techniques depending on the client's body type. That means you're getting an experience specially tailored for you, which is pretty neat.

Because the 90-minute Mystic Nirvana is all about the sensory experience, the lights were kept low, music played softly, and Maurer spoke softly. My arms, hands, legs, feet, shoulders and scalp all got treated to a body scrub and vigorous massage. Everything was wrapped in warm towels to help seal in moisture.

Back to that oil. Called Shirodhara, the Indian practice uses a continuous stream of warm oil to wash away stress, fatigue and anxiety. I'd already been lulled into a state of tranquility by the time Maurer unleashed the oil, and that little rivulet literally washed away any remaining nagging thoughts. Mission accomplished.

Tip: This isn't a squeeze-it-in-on-your-lunch-break kind of treatment. You'll want to schedule it at the end of the day. The description warned that my hair would be "saturated with soothing oils," and it was helpful and true. Maurer left an extra towel to help squeeze out extra oil, but I still looked like I'd just stepped out of the shower when I left.

You know what? I didn't mind at all. All the stress that I'd walked in with had melted away-for the weekend, at least.

-Shelley Mann

ear candling

$60
SKIN PERFECT CLINIC
2117 Polaris Parkway, Polaris
614-846-8420
SkinPerfectClinic.com

Before scheduling my appointment for ear candling at the Skin Perfect Clinic, I was only vaguely familiar with the treatment, which dates back to Biblical times.

I knew it had something to do with cleaning your ears but was unaware that some consider it a preventative measure to help with sinus blockage. That was welcome news to me, since I suffer from seasonal allergies and have had my share of sinus infections.

When I arrived at the clinic, I was taken to a softly lit, inviting room, where I climbed onto a table fully clothed and stretched out on my side.

The clinician explained that she would place a hollow candle-actually rolled muslin dipped in paraffin wax-in the outer opening of my ear and hold it at an angle consistent with the angle of the ear canal. Lighting the candle, she said, would create a vacuum in the ear and pull out excess wax, fungus and bacteria into the hollow core. (The procedure does not remove all of the wax because some of the substance is needed to keep dirt and bugs out of the ear.)

I didn't feel much during the 30-minute procedure but did hear the candle snapping and hissing.

Afterward, we opened the candle to see what had been pulled from my ears. It wasn't as dramatic as I had expected; there was just a small amount of dark wax.

The clinic staff considers the procedure a form of body detoxification, so they recommend drinking lots of water afterward and avoiding alcohol for the day. It's also important, they noted, to wash your ear the next time you shower to remove any wax or particles that were pulled to the top of ear canal.

The day after the treatment, my left ear ached a little, and my sinuses felt tender. Time will tell whether the cleaning paved the way for a season with fewer sinus issues. I'm hopeful.

- Melissa Kossler Dutton


the soma

$80
WOODHOUSE DAY SPA
19 N. High St., Dublin
614-790-8822
Columbus.WoodhouseSpas.com


Soma is the Vedic god of bliss. And blissful this is.

My treatment started with the same thing everything at Woodhouse does-with a plush robe and complimentary glass of wine. (Heck, give me both of those and I'm already in a stellar mood. The rest is practically icing!)

The Soma, a 50-minute treatment, combines two arts-shirodhara and reflexology-and is indulgent for men and women alike.

My treatment began with me crawling between the blankets onto a comfortably heated massage bed, laying on my back, and placing a silky eye mask over my eyes. The Shirodhara portion of the treatment-an Ayurvedic technique used to release mental tension and restore balance-came first. To start, the therapist placed a hanging, lantern-like funnel above my forehead, and then poured

in warm oils that streamed slowly and steadily onto my forehead. The sensation initially gave my whole body the chills. It almost tickled. I wasn't sure I liked it. But about five minutes in, it was strangely addictive-and amazing. After 10 or 15 minutes, the stream stopped, and the therapist massaged the oils into my head and neck.

When that massage concluded, the therapist moved to my feet for the second half of the treatment-the reflexology. It's an ancient massage technique that uses reflex areas of the feet to help soothe corresponding organs, from the stomach to the kidneys. As the therapist massaged her way around my feet, she found a few knots and hoped she was helping the corresponding organs.

(She has one friend, she told me, who swears reflexology is the only thing that soothes her kidney stones.) To be honest, after 20 or 30 minutes, I'm not sure whether my organs felt any different (I hadn't had any complaints anyway). But I do know my feet felt phenomenal.

My whole body was kind of melted to the bed by the treatment's end. I was so relaxed I had to consciously keep myself awake at points.
Utterly dreamy.

- Kristy Eckert