by Jenny Berg
Photo courtesy of Hamsa
Though its roots are in ancient India, Ayurveda is becoming evermore prevalent in the Midwest. Chicago, in particular, has seen a recent upsurge of pampering dens that are wholly based on the Eastern practices.
So, what is Ayurveda all about? Monica Yearwood is the owner of Hamsa, a new Ayurvedic wellness center, spa, and boutique in Chicago’s North Center neighborhood. (Fun fact: the spot is next door to the cute tea-house Delicious Cafe, which has Ayuervedic menu offerings.) “Ayurveda embraces three pillars—lifestyle, diet, and herbal medicine—as the foundation to complete health,” Yearwood says. “As a lifestyle, it teaches that we each have a relationship with nature, and that there are specific practices that maximize this relationship, such as adequate sleep and eating seasonally.”
Photo courtesy of Acchaa Spa
Acchaa Spa, new to Chicago’s River North neighborhood, also uses Ayurvedic techniques. Before clients get cozy in the treatment rooms—which are lit with glowing salt stones and decked with hanging lanterns— they fill out a questionnaire that helps therapists customize services to their dosha (or Ayuervedic mind/body type). Treatments include a “Third Eye Massage,” which is designed to clear up mental chatter and allow for mood stability.
Some of Chicago’s more mainstream spas are adopting Ayurvedic practices as well. At the plush Four Seasons Spa, the new Själ facial is a holistic treatment that incorporates products made with precious minerals and gemstones. During the luxe treatment, technicians apply healing practices based in shiatsu, reflexology, and—you guessed it—Ayurveda.
So, why is this lifestyle catching on in Chicago? “I think in general, we are collectively witnessing a cultural shift toward living in alignment with nature’s cycles,” Yearwood says. “Organic restaurants, rooftop gardens, and city-dwelling beekeepers are symptoms of the collective urge to re-establish this connection.”