Twist on Tradition

A Main Line spa adds interactive workshops to the menu.

Ilona Csaky, owner of Harmonia Healing Arts Spa in Wayne. (Photo by Luigi Ciuffetelli)Who among us can’t extol the magical abilities of our favorite massage therapist or the healing powers of that in-demand esthetician? Facials, massages, body treatments and nail care have made up the backbone of the spa experience for years—and for good reason. Each treatment is a mini-retreat, a vacation for the body and an indulgence for the soul. When we do discover that special service or employee, we make them as regular on our calendars as work-status meetings—scared to let such a good thing go.

But there’s much to be said for the new. Sure, these good old standbys are dear to us, but what harm is there in opening the door a bit and seeing what else might be out there? As one Main Line spa is showing, adding new and unusual offerings to the menu doesn’t just mix things up—it actually creates a stronger spa experience for clients.

Ilona Csaky, owner of Harmonia Healing Arts Spa in Wayne, is a bit of a pioneer in the practice. For more than a year, she’s been hosting workshops that complement more traditional treatments. From yoga to Qigong, the sessions last a few hours, and they can be included as part of a spa package or serve as a visitor’s only experience.

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“We want our clients to be as healthy as possible,” says Csaky. “These workshops support our other treatments, and the clients learn enough to use the teachings at home, too.”

Inevitably, these classes—which focus more on inner beauty and relaxation—promote overall well-being and help clients become happier, healthier people.

One of Harmonia’s most popular workshops is belly dancing. “It’s an intense workout and it’s fun at the same time,” says Csaky.

By using everything from the shoulders to the hips, focusing on proper posture, and working in fun touches like silk veils, the dancing delivers a core-concentrated workout. The workshops also review the culture and history behind belly dancing, giving visitors a full education. It’s a “great way to feel beautiful, feminine and strong,” says Csaky.

Another well-attended workshop, Qigong speaks to the natural, healing aura with which Csaky has infused Harmonia. An exercise from China that’s similar to tai chi, Qigong includes stretching, meditation and the harvesting of energy. “You’re extremely relaxed when you’re done,” says Csaky. “At the end, the chi (energy) is in your hands and it’s burning; it’s like a heavy heat you can feel, and you leave with all that energy.”

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Qigong can lower stress, improve immunity, flexibility and balance, and help maintain even emotions. It’s been known to alleviate hypertension, fatigue and digestive disorders.

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Since Qigong is a skill that requires learning and time, sessions are offered as one-hour classes or three-hour workshops, allowing attendees to create their own program for growth. It’s approachable to all ages and fitness levels; older visitors can even perform the movements while seated in chairs. For special Qigong workshops, the group heads to nearby parks, adding the wonders of nature to the experience. A recent excursion to the Willows in Wayne found clients peacefully moving among the trees.

Csaky also offers yoga and is planning on adding more workshops come spring, thanks to the positive response she’s received so far.

Harmonia provides two forms of acupuncture, which are offered more like a typical treatment, with a private room and one-on-one consultation. Yet another Asian offering—and one of Csaky’s favorites—acupuncture is available alone or with a facial.

Acupuncture surrounds the belief in qi—or life energy—that flows through all bodies. By focusing on the body’s meridians and the illnesses a client may speak of, thin, sterile needles are inserted where blockages may have formed in an attempt to get things moving again. This can maintain or improve health. Acupuncture can be particularly helpful to clients with back or joint pain, bronchitis, and stomach issues.

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The acupuncture facial focuses on the fine lines that come with age, encouraging collagen and elastin production, and increasing blood and lymphoid circulation. “In one treatment, your face actually feels tighter,” says Csaky, who has the treatment done on herself. “If you take before-and-after pictures, you can see the difference. After a few treatments, people will wonder what’s going on with their skin.”

With either acupuncture treatment, the entire body benefits. “The skin is your largest organ,” Csaky says. “So no matter what, the whole body’s function is helped.”

Want More?

Check out these Main Line spas for unique offerings.

3000 BC Spa, Wayne
  This spa takes its services on the road, offering work-site wellness days at area companies. Employees receive chair massages, hand reflexology treatments for those tired typing fingers, and invitations to seminars on yoga, nutrition and meditation.

Changes Salon & Day Spa, Ardmore
  Sometimes there’s more going on inside than aromatherapy or a massage can remedy. So Changes turns to in-house professional counselor Lynn Brandsma, who’s also a board-certified music therapist. She can help you handle image, weight and personal issues with a full mind-and-body treatment.

Joseph Anthony Retreat Spa & Salon, Glen Mills 
Fifteen minutes in a fluffy, white robe before any treatment is a mini-escape in itself, but at Joseph Anthony, the effect is upped within the Brine Light Inhalation Therapy Room. As you lounge, take in a brine waterfall and kaleidoscope of colorful lights across the water—an effortless relaxation treatment.

Our Best of the Main Line Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!