I tend to seek out spas that include elements of “therapeutic pain” promising to detangle my particularly knotted body. Consequently, I have been beaten with leafy birch swatches in a scalding Siberian mineral bath, walked on by a team of masseuses in an attic in New York’s Koreatown, and suffered a deep-tissue massage from a master Kalaripayattu on a Goan beach in India.
So being indulged at downtown Santa Barbara’s Alchemy Wellness Spa (35 W. Haley St.;  899-8811; AlchemyWellnessSpa.com) with a Pearl & Jasmine Body Renewal with Amethyst Wrap was an enlightening experience of the wonders of gentle massage. The treatment focused on energy flow, immunity boosting, and skin radiance by incorporating pressure points and medicinal salts and oils made only from wild harvested ingredients. The carefully integrated practice covered hormone balance, detoxification, and marma opening. I followed with the refreshing Rainforest Renew Facial, which focused on lymphatic drainage and reduction of inflammation — or, as my masseuse Kristen called it, “natural Botox.”
Alchemy owner Emma Narachi is a Reiki master, Aura-Soma practitioner, and craniosacral healer who incorporates ideas of spirituality, movement, and nutritional cleansing as part of her sophisticated spa offerings. By caring for every detail, she has created a wellness sanctuary with a complex take on the body-mind connection and the energies that drive it. Her spa is an oasis of organic linen robes, carved wooden windows, and handwoven rugs with a bright dressing room with a private shower. Alchemy treatments cover an extensive list of facials, massages, and wraps with extras like hydrotherapy, an infrared sauna, energetic healing, acupuncture, and organic spray tans. There are daily yoga and movement classes, monthly wellness events, food and juice cleansing programs, and even a vegetarian/vegan café.
If health is only a matter of maintaining bodily balance throughout our lives, then Alchemy is a great place to heal for those of us who have fallen into discord.