A Soak for the Soles
From ancient times, when weary travelers were greeted at their destination with a warm foot bath, to modern spas that commence full body treatments with a relaxing foot soak, this humble ritual has survived the ages. Both nurturing and practical, the footbath was a way to prevent soil from entering the home, while honoring and acknowledging your guest's journey. In some cultures, a foot wash was also given to clear all negative energy, stress, and anxiety before crossing the threshold.Though we rely less on our feet for long distance transport and while shoes have evolved significantly (for better and for worse) since Biblical times, the footbath is still a vital ritual. A self-prepared foot soak is a quick and easy way to unwind, relax, and nurture yourself after a long day, a vigorous workout, or too much time in unsupportive shoes. Sharon Holtz, spa director at the Spa at Mandarin Oriental in Miami says the footbath that they offer clients before signature services helps to "clear any scattered energy, ground them, and get them really present" before their treatment. Of course, you can experience the same benefits at home just by giving yourself fifteen minutes to sit, soak, and let the day go before transitioning into personal or family time.
Like many treatments for the feet, a warm soak has a relaxing effect for the whole body. Spa consultant Sylvia Sepielli, who designed such renowned spas as Mii amo in Sedona and Pangkor Laut Resort in Malaysia (where many treatments begin with a footbath), notes, "The feet receive so much stress and stimulation over the day that just the simple immersion into water can be a very relaxing and effective way to calm not just the feet but the body and mind as well." For maximum benefit, tailor your soak to the season (i.e., warming in winter, detoxifying in spring, moisturizing in summer, and exfoliating in fall) or to meet your individual needs. Add Epsom salts to boost detoxification and soothe aching muscles and joints, or peppermint essential oil to boost circulation, energize your spirit, and neutralize odor. Enhance the experience by incorporating candlelight, soothing music, or breathing exercises.
In her book, The Guru's Guide to Serenity (HarperCollins, 2006), Healing Lifestyles & Spas Beauty Editor, Laurel House recommends the following recipe for tired feet. Fill a large bowl three-quarters full with warm water. Add one teaspoon almond oil, two tablespoons nonfat dry milk, and a splash of lavender or rosemary essential oil. Relax and soak for five to fifteen minutes. Sepielli recommends concluding any sole-soaking ritual with an application of oil or lotion and a pair of warm socks to allow the moisturizer to penetrate and hydrate the skin. Practiced regularly, you'll always be ready to put your best foot forward.