A combination of the words water and shiatsu, Watsu is a massage done in a warm, shallow pool (you and the massage therapist both wear bathing suits) for an experience that isn’t typical of massage. “Being immersed in water stimulates deep relaxation for mind and body, and the massage also promotes trust and connectivity, as you will rely completely on your therapist who is holding you,” says SpaFinder President Susie Ellis.
Besides the heightened comfort of being enveloped by warmth, the medium of water allows the therapist to position you in stretches and poses that can’t be done on your average massage table. It’s perfect for those in need of a bit of gentle kneading since the massage is designed to relieve stress, muscle tension and pain.
Where can you find Watsu? If you’re not planning a trip to Italy where the Bagni di Pisa Palace & Spa takes Watsu to a whole new level-their version takes place in a secluded Tuscan grotto and includes two therapists-then Sonoma, California is the destination of choice. The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa is one of the few spas in the U.S. to feature natural thermal mineral waters (which flow 1,100 feet directly below the inn). The Watsu pool plays host to a number of treatments, including a Shiatsu massage complete with stretching, supported by your massage therapist as you float in the pool.
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