Russian & Turkish Baths
New York Ayurveda
Fifth Avenue Thai Spa
CHINA – Asia Tui-Na Wholeness: Tui na back, arm and neck massage
The experience: Tui na is no casual massage: It’s a traditional Chinese medical rubdown designed to target tight muscles, using deep-tissue pushing and the tapping of acupuncture points. At Asia Tui-Na Wholeness, my therapist, May G., went to town on my tense shoulder and back knots, using her elbows, palms and fists to pop my spine joints and release stuck muscles. She also dabbed herbs and oils—an ancient Asian practice—onto my back to soothe my sore torso.
Bonus: Postmassage, May rubbed my back down with a piping hot towel, which left my pulverized muscles feeling fresh and calm.
Why it’s worth trying: The massage isn’t for the virgin spagoer; my limbs were sore for a couple days after. But May knew how to get the deepest kinks out and left my oft-tight deltoids ten times more relaxed. 212-686-8082, asiatuinawholeness.com. 45mins regularly $50. Mention TONY when booking for $5 off this treatment.
INDIA – New York Ayurveda: Indian head massage and shirodhara
The experience: Popular throughout India, holistic head massage targets pressure points and employs oils to relieve tension, boost blood flow and clear out negative energy. The first step in any ayurvedic treatment is determining the recipient’s dosha, or how the energy flows between a person’s mind and body, so before beginning, my therapist, Kavita Rawat, had me take a short quiz to determine which of the three doshas I fell into. She then started the actual treatment by kneading my shoulder and neck muscles. Rawat proceeded to drizzle oil and special ayurvedic herbs into my hair and onto my neck, then rubbed my scalp vigorously to stimulate my circulation. The whole massage was set to soothing chant music, and I emerged feeling more relaxed than I had in weeks. If you’re searching for maximum decompression, pair the treatment with shirodhara, in which warm scented oils are slowly poured onto your forehead. According to ayurvedic principles, this opens your “third eye,” or your pathway to higher consciousness, in addition to relieving stress and combating insomnia.
Bonus: The special ayurvedic oils made my hair smell great for hours.
Why it’s worth trying: Not only will the head massage soothe all that tension you’ve been building up, but it also helps promote healthy hair growth—a major bonus in the midst of drying winter weather. 212-616-4127, newyorkayurveda.com. Indian head massage regularly $65; shirodhara: 35mins $75, 60mins $105. Mention TONY when booking for 20 percent off head massage through Feb 15.
The experience: An old Russian healing trick meant to flush toxins from your skin and improve circulation, a platza treatment involves being beaten lightly with oak leaves dipped in warm water and oil. The offbeat service is typically conducted in a steamy sauna (the one here tops 194 degrees) with an ice-cold towel wrapped around your head—though for a gentler first-time experience, you can opt to try it in a cooler treatment room. My therapist, Victor Filimonov, washed my body with warm water and scrubbed it thoroughly from front to back and side to side with the soothing, fresh-scented oak leaves. Then he rubbed my torso, arms and legs with grainy soap and showered the leaves and oils off of me.
Bonus: Post-platza, I hung out in the sauna for a bit, then took a dip in the freezing ice pool to cool down, making my body feel incredibly fresh and clean.
Why it’s worth trying: The treatment is a little weird, but it definitely leaves your skin feeling healthy and flushed. 212-674-9250, russianturkishbaths.com. $40.
JAPAN – Tamago Skin Care: Seaweed facial
The experience: Seaweed is an ancient Japanese skin-care essential that’s often utilized to hydrate the epidermis, soothe acne, smooth odd bumps and blemishes, and keep pores clean and oil-free. At Tamago, my specialist started the 75-minute treatment by wiping my face with milk cleanser and a crushed enzyme pill, to clean and exfoliate the top layer of skin. Then she applied an enzyme-peel lotion and steamed my skin to open pores. An extraction machine removed blackheads and acne-inducing evils, before a green-tea powder was applied. Afterward, the facialist smoothed on the seaweed mask, leaving it for 15 minutes while the antioxidants repaired years of damage.
Bonus: My neck and shoulders were squeezed and prodded pre-extraction, and my keyboard-kinked hands received a massage while the seaweed mask hardened.
Why it’s worth trying: My normally finicky skin remained smooth, clean and blemish-free for a few weeks. 212-505-1599, tamago-skincare.com. Regularly $95. Mention TONY when booking to receive 15 percent off this service through Mar 15.
The experience: Traditional Thai massages incorporate rhythmic acupressure points with sequences of masseuse-assisted stretches intended to awaken awareness, improve flexibility and alleviate joint pressure. My therapist, Kan Prasertsri, had me put on loose-fitting pants and a shirt, then directed me to lie down on a massage bed. She started off with my legs and feet, pulling me like Gumby and putting pressure on my calves, ankles, fingers, toes, ears and knees. As she worked her way up my body, she gently twisted my limbs and back into yoga positions and tested my flexibility. She pressed on my tight shoulder muscles and touched on acupuncture points in my neck at the base of my skull, which released some of the tension I’ve built up from hunching over a computer all day.
Bonus: The massage concluded with a soothing scalp massage and a glass of ginger-honey tea, sending me into a state of complete relaxation.
Why it’s worth trying: The massage is set in a beautiful, serene spa complete with aromatic incense and lovely piped-in Thai music, and while the masseuses put some serious pressure on those sore points, you leave feeling loose, chill and a little bit spoiled. 212-664-8239, fifthavethaispa.com. 60min massage regularly $129. Mention TONY and get 15 percent off this service through Apr 15.