Body types, somatotypes and transdermal nutrition are all phrases you probably wouldn’t think of when considering which kind of treatment you should indulge in at the spa. But not so says a new treatment approach that looks to somatotypes, a unique school of thought that combines biological principles associated with your physical body with certain characteristics of your personality, to decipher what you need for healing, wellness and nutrition to be able to function at your best.
Instead of thinking of your body as a traditional pear, apple, hourglass or rectangular shape, the methodology behind somatotypes categorizes the body using both your physical shape and dominant traits of your personality. Knowing your somatotype can be a total game changer when it comes to how you approach your diet, workouts and even your spa experience. At Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa, Kristi Dickinson, director of spa and wellness, incorporates somatotypes to address imbalances in wellness and vitality. First developed by physiologist William Sheldon in the ’40s, somatotypes draw from both modern science and ancient wisdom to sort people into three different types: ectomorph (long limbs, low muscle mass, slim and restrained), endomorph (curvier, rounder, shorter limbs and sociable), and mesomorph (lean, muscular, athletic build and assertive).
“Knowing someone’s somatotype helps us determine which mineral blend we will use as well as which therapy and homecare we recommend,” says Dickinson, who uses these classifications to not only recommend spa treatments, but to also provide much-needed nutrition to the body through the skin. “The intention of this theory in spa therapy is to transdermally supply these elements to fortify each individual’s inherent nature. The result is increased vitality and remineralization, so you look, feel and function your best.”
Somatotypes have a close connection with the Ayurvedic idea of body types, another concept that relies on body, mind and spirit to promote good health and longevity. “In Ayurveda, there are three major types or ‘doshas’—vata (wind), pitta (fire) and kapha (earth),” says Ayurvedic expert Dr. Akil Palanisamy. “There is a strong correlation between doshas and somatotypes. Specifically, the ectomorph is correlated with vata in terms of a lean and delicate body structure and a sensitive, more quiet personality. Endomorphs correlate with kapha both in physical structure and the qualities of being slower, peaceful and more tolerant. Mesomorphs are correlated with pitta in terms of being more well-proportioned, muscular, assertive, vigorous and very active.”
Just as different doshas require varying treatments to balance the body and mind, treatments based on somatotypes are also totally customized to create an internal balance. “Each constitution has a unique biochemical composition,” adds Dickinson. “They use more of certain minerals, so they need more replenishment of these chemical elements. For example, with the endomorphs we know to use red algae, Himalayan salts, red clay, citrus, cinnamon, oregano and the essential oils that deliver carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen.”
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But it’s not all chemical. The treatments that work best have a lot to do with the personality traits of each somatotype. For instance, one of the main traits of a mesophorph is impatience and hyperactivity, so this type would benefit most from vigorous body brushing. Endomorphs are known for being social and engaging, and for them, Dickinson recommends a Vichy shower treatment because of its interactive nature. Not to be forgotten, Dickinson says the introverted ectomorph needs extra attention and a scalp massage during a wrap or extra guided meditation will provide “a soothing connection and extra attention to their nervous system.”
So, next time you think of your body type as just merely a shape, think again, as you might be missing some key minerals or elements in your diet or overlooking a workout or treatment that may nourish you both mentally and physically. To find out which somatotype you are, take this short quiz. Once you know which body type you are, you’ll never look at your body as just a simple apple, pear, hourglass or rectangle again.
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