Bali is one of more than 17,000 islands in the Indonesian archipelago bordered by the Indian Ocean and the Bali Sea. Beckoned by its luxurious spas, eighty percent of international visitors to Indonesia only stop in Bali. Bali’s spa therapies are rooted in the rituals of Javanese royalty and Chinese, Tibetan, and Ayurvedic therapies.
The Balinese Massage
The Balinese massage is a unique blend of massage therapy, acupressure, reflexology and aromatherapy. Essential oils, especially jasmine, rose, sandalwood, coconut, cempaka, sandat and frangipani, are used freely and are chosen on the basis of one’s individual condition. These oils help the flow of blood and oxygen, which balances the body’s qi or energy flow.
Clients wear loose clothing or smocks or they’re lightly draped with towels. Clients lie on a conventional massage table, massage sofa, or a mat on a floor. If needed, clients can also be seated in a chair. The massage therapist starts with a dry massage that combines kneading strokes, skin rolling, gentle stretches, compressions and foot massage. Room temperature fragrant oils are added during the procedure, and warm oils with lemon grass, clove or ginger are used to address specific pain. Pushing techniques predominate and are used to heal muscle spasms and provide a deep pressure massage.
After the massage, which usually lasts an hour, clients may be treated to a Lulur or Boreh body scrub or they may be covered with hydrating ingredients such as yogurt or honey. Depending on the spa, clients may opt for a Flower Bath or an invigorating shower.
The Balinese massage calms the nerves, restores the spirit and heals the body. It’s reported to improve sleeping disorders and provide relief from migraines, headaches, allergies, asthma, and muscle pain. The Balinese massage boosts the circulation, identifies and treats painful areas and spasms, and increases energy flow.
Because it is a rigorous procedure, individuals who have had recent surgery should abstain. It’s also not recommended for pregnant women, individuals with joint or limb pain, or who have problems with either low or high blood pressure.
The Jamu Massage
The Jamu massage is a type of Balinese massage that relies on Indian, Chinese, and European massage techniques such as acupressure, rolling motions, long strokes, and percussion-like drumming. The Jamu massage is more invigorating than the traditional Balinese massage and is intended to increase blood circulation and revitalize the body.
Mandi Lulur or Lulur Bath
The mandi lulur is a Javanese specialty procedure. It’s used to exfoliate and soften the skin. The lulur includes a light coconut oil massage that’s combined with rose, frangipani and jasmine scents. Although the pressure is lighter, occasionally deeper pressure is applied to the palm or thumb to stimulate the nervous system. A paste-like mixture made from rice, turmeric and fragrances is applied as an exfoliating agent. Afterwards, clients step into a flower bath with rose and jasmine petals.
The Javanese Volcanic Mud Wrap
Indonesian mud is rich in minerals, including minerals found in volcanic lava. Clients are covered in mud, which detoxifies and heals the skin, and covered with a wrap so that the minerals can penetrate the skin.
The Boreh Body Scrub
Similar to the mud wrap, this procedure uses a paste made from warming ingredients such as ginger, cloves and sandalwood. The body is covered with paste and allowed to set. It is then vigorously massaged into the skin and rinsed, leaving the skin glowing and the body energized.
American Spas with Balinese and Javanese Therapies
More and more American spas are offering Indonesian therapies or are exclusively Indonesian therapy-based spas. The Taman Sari Spa in Whistler British Columbia is the only Javanese Spa in North America. Clients can enjoy traditional Javanese hydrotherapy and massage procedures as well as treatments for weight loss and pre-wedding events. Treatments include post-maternity package, the Four-hand Prameswari Queen massage, the classic Javanese Massage, the sublime Javanese Lulur body scrub and the indulgent Merapi Volcano Body wrap. Natural Javanese herbs and fragrant oils make guests feel as if they landed in the Indonesian islands.
Absolute Nirvana, a Balinese spa, is located near the main plaza in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Procedures include traditional Balinese Massage, Lulur, Balinese facials, and hot stone massages. The spa has handicapped access and employs LaStone certified massage therapists that receive special training in Javanese Lulur, Ocean of Flowers, Brown Sugar exfoliation and Balinese Boreh. Guests are provided with cotton batik kimonos and sarongs, which are imported from Bali. Absolute Nirvana is also a member of the Green Spa Network and has its own water treatment system.