To me, nothing beats a massage. But a massage with two massage therapists? That was something new to me, yet an Ayurvedic, two-person massage was the experience I was in for at Surya, the spa at the Santa Monica Proper Hotel.
The spa itself is based in the principles of Ayurveda—a holistic health system created in India more than 10,000 years ago—and Ayurvedic master Martha Soffer, a sought-after healer of Gwyneth Paltrow, the Kardashians, and more, founded it. I was booked in for the Signature Abhyanga Massage (starting at $295), a “rejuvenating, four-handed massage that uses customized, warm, herbalized oils that are cooked all night for the next day’s use.” To say my body was ready would be an understatement.
“When you come to Surya, your treatment experience will be designed and fine-tuned to either calm your constitution, or cool it, or energize it, based on what imbalance you may be currently experiencing,” Soffer says. “The herbalized oils that are used, the pace of certain treatments, even the mantras or music that’s played in your treatments…Everything is designed to balance you inside and out.”
Prepping for an Ayurvedic, two-person massage
Heading to the treatment room in the spa, I was immediately calmed by candle light and a full bathroom off the spa (more on that later). The lead therapist explained what was going to happen and asked if I had any concerns, to which I said I just wanted to be more relaxed. She then left, I disrobed, got onto the table under the covers, and Soffer entered to chat through the experience more with me.
Putting her hands over my back and feeling different areas, she seemed to intuitively know things about me and my body (literally spot on)—how long ago it had been since my period, how I hadn’t slept well in a couple days, how I deal with migraines—which then gained follow-up questions from her for more clarity. This is part of Soffer’s practice as an Ayurvedic Pulse diagnostician, and I was fascinated. It felt like I was getting a body scan from her hands, and the results were scarily accurate. Then, it was time for the main event.
A very hands-on experience
The therapists worked like an orchestrated dance, their movements mirroring each other’s on each side of my body. Not only did the movements match, but the pressure did, too, which was incredible. As the therapists worked my muscles, I could feel myself becoming more relaxed and my tension melting. The oils were warm and fragrant, and at times it felt like I had transcended my body (particularly when it got to the scalp massage)—I had no idea what time it was or how much time had passed until it was over.
After the massage, I was treated to a yoni steam—yes, a vaginal steam, and that was surprisingly comforting? It felt like the whole experience was a warm, fragrant hug. Afterwards, I was told I could take a hot shower in the adjoined bathroom to finish the session (and tone down the amount of unabsorbed oil). As I showered, I felt like this was something I would need to do again at some point, sort of like body maintenance.
Finishing out the experience with some tea, I went home refreshed and raving about it to anyone who would listen. This year, Soffer says there’s more to come from the spa like new treatments, including facials, and classes. But most importantly, “what won’t change is the love you feel when you walk in the door, and for all the time you’re there,” she says. And I can attest, that is very much felt. Until next time, Surya.