Above: Reiki master I Made Warmana at Bali’s Karma Kandara resort.
A clutch of innovative therapists is redefining the island’s spa experience.
By Judy Chapman
Bali has long enticed spa-goers with its endless array of yoga, meditation, and wellness experiences. For those who have done it all, we profile six trendsetting healers who are putting everything from raindrop therapy to blind reflexology on the island’s increasingly diverse spa menu.
Before her current residency at the Four Seasons resorts in Bali, clinical aromatherapist Gabrielle Souczek made a name for herself as a psychologist and “raindrop technique” master in New Zealand, the U.S., and her native Austria. Inspired by an ancient practice employed by the Native American Lakota people, Souczek’s technique involves a sprinkling of warm essential oils over your back and feet. Once the oils have been “raindropped” over the body, Souczek gently massages them into the skin using feathering motions. A hot, moist compress completes the treatment, applied to deepen the penetration of the oils, stimulate cellular detox, and kill dormant viruses along the spine (fourseasons.com).
The Power Player
Also known for his rain-stopping rituals, Bali native I Made Warmana describes himself as having “the power,” which he puts to good use in his intense, energy-transfer reiki rituals at the Rei spa and Karma Resorts. A non-contact therapy, Warmana’s reiki sees the master move around your body performing martial arts– like poses, all the while casting a healing energy over you from his palms. More spiritual than physical, the therapy is thought to improve sleep patterns and reduce stress and muscle tension (reiwellness.com; karmaresorts.com).
The Man With The Golden Touch
At The Bale in Nusa Dua, Terry Liew—founder of Singapore’s Shiatsu School and a clinical aromatherapist—oversees treatments that utilize therapists’ fingers, arms, elbows, knees, and feet, not to mention the hot stones that are employed to deepen the experience. Liew’s Japanese anma (literally, “press and rub”) therapy is designed to leave you limp and limber, targeting pressure points along the body’s 14 main meridians to relax muscles and improve circulation through alternating rounds of gentle massage, stretching, and percussive manipulations (thebale.com).
The Singing Sage
Handpicked by a Balinese priest on behalf of the Tugu Canggu hotel, therapist Mbok Nengah is as popular for her soothing voice as she is for her gentle Mantra Massage. In the dim-lit confines of the Tugu’s Waroeng Jamu spa, Nengah presses bundles of steaming herbs over the body to release impurities, all the while singing soulful renditions of Sanskrit mantras with the aim of creating a state of deep relaxation. When she’s done in the spa, Nengah acts as a spiritual adviser to Tugu staff and guests (tuguhotels.com).
The Water Woman
Dutch-born Elisa Senese describes her water massage therapy as a kind of rebirth: guests are stretched, massaged, and guided through a pool of warm water, all the while cradled in Elisa’s arms. One of the offerings on the extensive spa menu at the Four Seasons resort in Jimbaran, the aquatic ritual brings into play elements of Elisa’s training in other wellness fields including watsu, dance, and reiki. In addition to helping reduce muscular tension, the therapy is reputedly a good remedy for poor posture and respirative illness (fourseasons.com).
The Sightless Savant
With a self-proclaimed “gifted intuitive awareness,” reflexologist Wayan Budi Arta has become a popular resource at the Amanusa and Amandari resort spas over the past seven years. Having lost his sight when he was only two years old, the Balinese therapist infuses energy healing into his Blind Reflexology sessions, utilizing his heightened sense of touch to guide pressure-point manipulations of the feet, hands, and ears—thus stimulating the flow of energy to other, corresponding body parts (amanresorts.com).
Originally appeared in the April 2009 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Bali’s Holistic Healers”)