City Pulse

By Amber Roniger

Body-mind-spirit connection… Ohm nama shivaya… align your charkas and breathe white light through your third eye. If you’re anything like my parents, you think this is total hokey-pokey-poohey, voodoo-witchcraft, David Blaine sleight-of-hand, hippie-spacey, tragic boho trifle. Interesting theory, but this new urban hippie-chica happens to think it’s totally happening, man, in the here and now.

Please to understand, I’m that girl from Larchmont (Larchomont-schmarchmont, up-turn your nose, yada-yah, I’ve heard it all before), but not the one that you think. Honestly, my upbringing wasn’t even remotely too-too. I was raised with the shtetl mentality: while all the girlies were zipping around in their little red Cabriolet convertibles, I was riding low in the Chevy Caprice family wagon. (I did get a little tickle every time Dad pulled away with the purple magic mushroom sticker on the rear window). I actually believed we were poor ’cause our house wasn’t the biggest mansion on the block. Aah, the unchecked power of parental influence. Yah, I lacked perspective.

As a tiny tot in the 70’s, I went to YMCA summer camp and did ‘stretching’ exercises. It wasn’t till years later (and a half tab of Bart Simpson acid) that I realized we had been doing yoga. It was suddenly easy to trace the roots of my mental hippie-tree (most certainly not inherited from the ‘rents) back farther than the Dead Shows.

I got my first manicure before my Bat Mitzvah. That was the zenith of 13 year-old luxury in my Talmud; did people really live like this?

The first time I even heard of a spa, I was standing in one at the Dead Sea. When my dusty teen-tour arrived, I didn’t have a single shekel to spend. Clearly the concept of relaxation was totally alien in a childhood household ruled by a two-headed economist-shrink monster. I was befuddled. My one prior experience with mud submergence was “feel like a pot day” at camp, where we took mud baths and then sunbathed till we were kiln toasty; hardly in pursuit of beauty, but rather to satiate the twisted artistic sentiment of our limey pottery teacher, Nigel.

The closest I even came to a heat treatment at the spa was running barefoot across the Negev’s 120° baking sand in mortal pain, an alarmingly unintelligent move (lame even by 14 year-old standards). I kept pausing to dunk my smoking soles in the swampy, salty water (another stunningly brilliant move), only to be reprimanded in Hebrew over the loudspeaker (if it wasn’t in my Hoftorah, me no comprende). I feel for those firewalkers. I do blame my temporary dementia on the severely dehydrated state of my brain; it must have shrunk significantly to pinhead proportions. I was plumb hallucinating, and I can’t blame it on an oasis mirage or any type of psychotropic (the closest I’d come to psychedelics at that age was reading “A Wrinkle In Time” and of course, Sesame Street). Some of the boys in my tour did try (unsuccessfully) to trade us girls for a gaggle of camels, but that is a mostly unrelated bizarro tale.

I remember Mom telling me of a particularly unglamorous encounter with a chiropractor when she was a child, where he (allegedly) drop-kicked her back as she was fleeing the scene. I have yet to verify the veracity of this claim. Suffice it to say, Mom is not overly hep on chiros, or natural healing in general. My medicinal upbringing consisted of antibiotics and more antibiotics, never heard of a vitamin, didn’t drink water.

Reminiscing on my very conventional, un-pretentious rearing, I know I’m such a goober-sap for gloating and gleaming about spa-ing all day at the most fancy-dancy ayurvedic spa in town. But I just don’t care. I’ve never ever indulged in the luxury of a full day at the spa. And this one is the creme-de-kefir, the CHOPRA CENTER & SPA (http://www.chopra.com) at the DREAM HOTEL. dial!

I’m sure everyone has heard of Deepak Chopra from his appearances on Oprah. My personal theory is that his ginormious splash was due to the simple fact that Big O likes names that rhyme with hers, but that is neither here nor there. I long ago poured through all of Chopra’s books, clutch reads when you’re feeling a bit dumpy. And it’s always positive to have a self-affirming book to distract from allergy-man coughing out lung cookies then grasping the subway pole with his goobery hand – oh lord why?! (Note to self: initiate wearing white ballroom gloves on the train, no matter how silly it appears).

There must be zillions of spa-type venues on the island to satiate my first full day of relaxation-nation, but it turns out that my ayurvedic hero, Dr. Deepak himself, will grace the spa with his presence at SOUL OF HEALING, MAY 31ST THROUGH JUNE 6TH. And the real schlemiel is that Beauty News NYC members will receive a $400 discount! You ‘aint gonna bump into no Daily Candy members strutting around the Dream with a fat discount; this is completely exclusive!

It’s impossible to describe the Soul of Healing program without pandering (and you know how I despise brownnosers, ass-kissers and yes-men), but Soul of Healing is a calm oasis in the tumultuous storm of the gritty city (see? pandering, what to do?): a five-day transformative journey filled with healing, balance, discovery and awakening (dead up my hippie-alley). This ticket is hotter than Madonna at MSG and offered only a few times a year. Soul of Healing will clear the mind, lessen anxiety, detoxify the body, empower nutrition, manage stress and re-center and bring peace into participants’ lives. I mean where else in NYC can you learn the ancient art of Primordial Sound Meditation (something like a barbaric ‘yawp,’ I surmise), practice the Seven Spiritual Laws of yoga, and have your toxic bloat pounded out by rejuvenating specialty massages?

Once practiced only in India, ayurveda is starting to catch fire in the West. And the Chopra Center is the headline act, the marquee ring, the ayurvedic epicenter in NYC. Soul of Healing touches upon so many topics that are near and dear to my emerging diva side: the art of relaxation (proudly in training to become a grand master), yoga (headstands make me giddy), massage (I long to get my butt kicked by diminutive Chinese women every payday) and natural living (deep ozone breaths-of-fire). It keeps the boys guessing that I’m 32 (when I’m actually 33). So join me in this artistic endeavor to merge body, mind and soul, or at the very least get up close and personal with Dr. D., by far the hottest doc on the NYC spa beat!

Call (888) 424-6772 x1639 and mention Beauty News NYC for your $400 discount today! Space is uber-limited so hurry up & dial!

Originally published May 2006
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