Winter and the cold weather that follows affects our body and mind in a lot of ways. Your skin gets tight and dry and your mood is heavy, especially after coming off a holiday high. Combined with the normal stresses of life, it’s no surprise that seasonal depression is, in fact, a thing.
And while there are plenty of ways to pick up your mood, one thing I recommend is rejuvenating your body and mind with a Hammam & Gommage treatment at the Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie Paris.
Surinder Bains is the woman that can be accredited for the growing popularity of Hammam culture — a North African and Middle Eastern way of bathing that’s also commonly known as the Turkish bath — to North America.
The treatment, which has clientele strip down to their birthday suit to be steamed and scrubbed by a therapist, is understandably surprising; it requires the scrubee to let down their walls and appreciate their bodies — something Bains wanted to open North Americans up to after she experienced her first Hammam in Paris.
“When I walked into that Hammam, there were hundreds of women: every colour, every size, every nationality and they were all comfortable in their own skin. And they’re all walking around, they’re not worried about their body types – they were just so in tune with their bodies. I thought – I love this place. I loved the camaraderie and the spirit of women,” Bains tells me.
And so, she sold her then-travel business to open up her first location in Vancouver in 2000, and following the success, a second in Toronto in 2012. The once-culturally shocking concept has since become a favourite treatment for many.
While I had been to the Miraj Hammam spa before, I had never experienced their signature treatment, the Hammam & Gommage. Not sure what to expect, I was guided to the well-stocked change room (think hair dryers, lotions and more) where I quickly undressed and wrapped myself in a plush robe. Shortly after, I was met by my therapist who whisked me away to the treatment room and asked whether I’d be more comfortable fully naked or in a disposable thong; I went with the disposable thong.
As Bains explained to me earlier, getting North American women comfortable enough in their birthday suits was the biggest challenge she faced, and I totally understand why. As someone who’s never even gone for a bikini wax and first choice of swimwear is a one-piece, baring all to a complete stranger was something I’d have to get used to.
One thing I could definitely get used to, though, is the Jerusalem gold steam and shower room (the Hammam) that the treatment takes place in. The space is luxurious, to say the least.
After a hot water rinse, I sat in the steam portion of the room, which switches between high and low-intensity steam, for about 20 minutes. Guests are welcome to take as long as they like. Once I finished, my therapist led me to the front of the room and laid me down on the Jerusalem gold. My body was then covered with black Moroccan soap and every inch was scrubbed. First the front then the back, from my toes to my chest and even my armpits.
The aftermath was a little shocking… And I won’t lie, kind of gross. I felt refreshed but I was surprised to see what my body had been harbouring — so much dead skin. I could see the skin that had been exfoliated off my body and there was a lot of it. The treatment was definitely much needed.
Next, I was rinsed by my therapist and left alone to dispose of my disposable thong. I put my plush robe back on and was led to a quiet resting room with complete with pillows, magazines, hot tea, and my own personal mini plate of grapes and baklava – absolutely no cell phones allowed.
After the initial shock of being naked in front of the stranger, I remembered what Bains had said about the spirit of women and being in touch with my body. I let go of my insecurities, clouded thoughts and fears, and just let my mind be.
It gave my mind an escape with the added benefit of a relaxing steam, up-close-and-personal exfoliation, and massage. My skin felt soft and renewed.
If you’re looking for a way to rejuvenate your body and mind, or just shed some of that extra skin, the Miraj Hammam by Caudalie Paris is the place to go. As Bains says, “Your mind needs that rest. Even if you can come in once a quarter, do it for the largest organ of your body, your skin! We need to do that. It’s essential. It’s not even a luxury.”
Have you tried Hammam & Gommage? What was your experience like?
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