Spa and Wellness Glossary

A spa glossary of common spa, treatment and wellness terms with detailed explanations of each term. Variations may be offered, so it is best to check with the respective spas when you make your booking.



Gentle, rhythmic ayurvedic massage in which therapists work warm oil into the body to help enhance the immune system and encourage the removal of toxins.


Points along the meridian channels where the life force Рqi [Chinese], prana [Indian] and ki [Japanese] Рaccumulates. Also known as s̻n [Thai].


Application of fingertip [and sometimes palm, elbow, knee and foot]pressure on the body’s acupoints to improve the flow of qi throughout the body, release muscle tension and promote healing.


Ancient Chinese healing technique in which fine needles are inserted into acupoints along the body’s meridians to maintain health and correct any imbalance that causes illness.


Fitness routine that involves a series of rhythmic exercises usually performed to music. Promotes cardiovascular fitness, improves the body’s use of oxygen, burns calories and increases endurance.

Aerobics studio

Area used for floor exercises.

Affusion shower massage

Massage given under a relaxing, rain-like, warm shower of water or seawater. Increases blood circulation.

After-sun treatment

Treatment that soothes skin that has been over-exposed to the sun, and cools the over-heated body. May include a cooling bath and a gentle massage with a lotion of soothing ingredients such as cucumber and aloe vera.


Japanese martial art that uses techniques such as locks and throws, and focuses on using the opponent’s own energy against himself.

Alexander Technique

Therapy developed by Australian F M Alexander in the 1890s that retrains you to stand and move in an optimally balanced way. Helps reduce physical and psychological problems brought on by bad posture.


Use of algae in treatments such as baths, scrubs, wraps and skin case.

Anti-cellulite treatment

Treatment that contours the body and reduces cellulite at various parts of the body.

Anti-stress massage

Typically a 30-minute introductory massage, or one for those with limited time and who suffer from high levels of stress. Focuses on tension areas such as the back, face, neck and shoulders.


Aerobic exercises performed in a swimming pool where the water provides support and resistance to increase stamina, and stretch and strengthen muscles.

Aquamedic pool

Pool with specially positioned therapeutic jets for benefits such as relaxation and improving muscle tone.


Ancient healing art that dates back to 4,500 BC. Refers to the use of essential oils from plants and flowers in treatments such as facials, massages, body wraps, foot baths and hydrobaths.

Aromatherapy massage

Massage in which essential oils – either pre-blended or specially mixed for your needs – are applied to the body, typically with Swedish massage techniques.


Yoga postures.


A fast-paced form of yoga.


An electromagnetic field or subtle body of energy believed to surround each living thing. Traditionally thought of as oval in shape and comprising seven layered bands. Its colour, shape, size and action are believed to reflect your physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being.


An ancient Indian holistic medical system involving diet, yoga, massage and herbal remedies based on five elements – earth, water, fire, air and space, stressing balance through your dosha.

Ayurvedic massage

Massage performed by one or more therapists directly on the skin to loosen the excess doshas. Promotes circulation, increases flexibility, and relieves pain and stiffness. Applied with herbal oil.

Ayurvedic Shirodhara

Includes the steady streaming of warm, fragrant oil onto the forehead (‘third eye’), followed by a scalp massage and depending on the treatment, another body massage.

Baby massage

Infant massage that focuses on the special needs of newborns. Massage is used to relax, improve circulation and relieve common infant ailments. It also nurtures bonding between infant and parent when performed by the latter.

Bach Flower Therapies

38 flowers remedies, each associated with specific negative feelings, developed by Dr Edward Bach in the 1930s. The remedies are derived from solarized flowers that work on a vibrational level to effect emotional change. Flower therapies are also known as flower essences.

Back treatment

Deep cleansing skin treatment for the back, neck and shoulders that removes impurities and excess oils, eases tension, and leaves the skin soft and smooth. Also known as clarifying back treatment or purifying back treatment.

Balinese boreh

Traditional warming Balinese mask made from herbs and spices which improve circulation and skin suppleness. The past is lightly applied to the body, which is then wrapped in a blanket. The spices produce a sensation of deep heat.

Balinese coffee scrub

Exfoliating scrub in which finely ground Balinese coffee beans are applied to the skin.

Balinese massage

Relaxing traditional massage of Bali that uses rolling, long strokes, and finger and palm pressure. Applied with oil.


Water treatments that use hot springs, mineral water or seawater to improve circulation, restore and revitalize the body, and relieve pain and stress. Also an invigorating, re-mineralizing treatment for muscles that uses water jets and a localized massage in a tub with a special hose administered by a therapist.


Soaking or cleansing the body in water that is typically infused with salt, flowers, minerals or essential oils. May serve as a prelude to, or conclude a treatment.

Beauty treatment

Treatment provided by spas to enhance beauty and overall well-being. Includes facial treatments, makeovers, manicures, pedicures and waxing.


Hot yoga, where yoga is practiced in room heated to 29°C-38°C [84°F-100°F].


Deep tissue exercise that works to lengthen the body and seeks to restore it to the original design.

Blitz shower

Standing body massage in which a high-pressure shower jet is directed at the body or specific parts of the body by a therapist who is about 3 meters away. Has a deep massaging effect, which increases circulation. Also known as douche au jet, jet blitz or jet massage.

Body bronzing

Tanning treatment without the sun. May begin with a scrub to smooth the skin, which allows for an even tan.

Body composition analysis

Evaluation of lean body mass to determine the percentage of body fat for the purpose of tailoring a nutrition and exercise programme.

Body mask

Regenerating treatment in which the body is slathered with clay. The minerals in the clay – which may be mixed with essential oils – detoxify and hydrate the skin, leaving it refreshed and radiant.

Body scrub

Exfoliating body treatment, using products such as salt or herbs, that removes dry, dead skin cells and improves blood circulation. Softens the skin and gives it a healthier glow. Often used for preparing the skin to receive the benefits of massages and wraps. Also known as body polish.

Body treatment

General term that denotes treatments for the body.

Body wrap

Treatment in which the body is wrapped in linen soaked in a herbal solution for about 20 minutes, and sometimes kept under a heated blanket. May be preceded by an application of fruit, herbs, mud or seaweed, and accompanied by a face, head and scalp massage. Detoxifies the system, soothes tired muscles and hydrates the skin.


Therapeutic touching or manipulation of the body that uses massage or exercise to relax, ease tension and pain, and treat illnesses. May involve lessons in proper posture or movement. Some modes may treat both the body and mind.

Brush and tone

Use of loofah, special brush or rough cloth to rapidly brush the body to remove dead skin cells and impurities. Often used to prepare the body for treatments such as masks and bronzing. Also known as dry brushing.

Bust treatment

Treatment to firm and tone the bust and décolleté.


One of the oldest spices known, it is traditionally used as a medicinal aid for indigestion and flatulence, and commonly added to desserts, coffee, soaps, lotions and perfumes for its fragrance.

Chair massage

Massage performed while seated on a specially designed massage chair. The chair is portable so the massage can be performed almost anywhere. The massage typically concentrates on the back, neck, scalp and shoulders.


The seven electromagnetic energy centres located along the spine that are associated with the flow of the body’s subtle energy and which influence specific glands and functions within the body.


Head massage developed by blind Indian therapist Nehendra Mehta, who popularized his technique in London during the 1980s.

Chi nei tsang

Internal organ massage that focuses on the abdominal area where stress, tension and negative emotions accumulate. Relieves illness, and releases negative emotions and tensions, bringing relief to the abdomen and vital energy to the internal organs. Eliminates toxins in the gastrointestinal tract, promotes lymphatic drainage and treats digesting problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, bloating a


Coloured light therapy, taken from the Greek work khroma, meaning light.

Cold plunge pool

Small pool filled with chilled water to stimulate blood and cool the body quickly, especially after a sauna.

Colour therapy

Use of colour to bring about balance. Colour therapy can be administered using light, water, crystals, visualization, and food. It is believed that different colours vibrate at different rates, and each colour emits its own subtle energy. The body can be treated with the associated stones placed on the relevant chakra point.

Complementary therapy

Health care system not traditionally utilized by conventional Western medical practitioners, and which may complement orthodox treatments. Also known as alternative therapy.

Cranial-sacral therapy

A gentle touch therapy that evaluates and enhances the cranio-sacral system [comprising the membranes and fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord]to restore balance, ease stress and enhance the body’s self-healing process. The technique was developed in the mid-1970s by osteopathic physician John E Upledger.

Creme bath

Hair and scalp conditioning treatment in which a rich cream is applied to the hair section by section. The hair may be steamed before being rinsed. May include a neck, scalp and shoulder massage.

Crystal and gem therapy

A form of healing through the use of crystals and gemstones, which are believed to be able to transmit and receive energy, to modify thoughts, emotions and energy fields, thereby serving to restore balance in the body and amplify innate healing ability. Often performed with reiki and colour therapy. Most commonly used gems include gold, diamond, emerald, ruby and sapphire.


Treatment where small glass cups are attached to the skin by a vacuum that is created by placing a lit match inside each cup to burn the oxygen. The suction increases the circulation of the body’s vital energy and blood.

Dance movement therapy

Dance as a therapy, with or without music, to help those with emotional problems. The therapist may suggest movements and encourage the participants to innovate their own to express themselves.


Aerobic exercise derived from modified modern dance steps and movements.


Fruit of the date palm – ‘the tree of life’ in Muslim legend – cultivated in Arabian culture for millennia as a prize source of nutrition and medicinal properties, such as disinfection in wound healing, skin regeneration and anti-ageing.

Deep Sea mud treatment

Application of mineral-rich mud from the Dead Sea. Detoxifies the skin and body, improves cell metabolism and relieves rheumatic and arthritic pain.

Deep tissue massage

Firm and deep massage using specific techniques to release tensions, blockages and knots that have built up over time. Believed to release emotional tension. May be adapted to a specific area of tension.


System of exercise resembling yoga postures that encourages physical and spiritual development. Balances the flow of energy through the meridian system.


In ayurveda, the three humours that make up the physical body. Also describes the three constitutional types.

Dry floatation bed

The floatation bed allows the body to fall into a deeper state of relaxation allowing the body to recover from stress. Pain is relieved. Blood flow is stimulated through all the tissues, natural endorphins are released, the brain gives out alpha waves associated with relaxation and meditation.

It takes approximately 15 minutes to enter the first stage of deep relaxation, and the remaining 45 mi


Technique used for diagnosing cardiovascular illness by examining the heart and its vessels using non-invasive equipment.


Long, even strokes in the direction of the heart which helps push along the flow of blood and lymph.


Massage therapy using the Cellu M6 machine to reduce the appearance of cellulite and refine the figure.

Energy balancing

A general term to describe a variety of practices aimed at balancing the flow of energy in and around the body. Practitioners generally try to remove blockages, and balance and amplify this energy flow.

EQ4 meridian testing

Combination of traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, kinesiology, medical research and modern computing. A probe is applied to the acupoints to determine the areas that require treatment. It is believed that allergens, food and environmental stresses that weaken the body are reflected in energy levels that are higher or lower than normal.


Treatment that encourages the body to function properly by relaxing tense muscle groups in order to regulate the body’s systems and ensure they work together harmoniously. It begins with an examination of the spinal column and associated muscle groups to determine the cause of health problems and reveal asymptomatic illnesses. A modified acupuncture technique is then used to help release tense a

Essential oils

Oils, extracted from plants and flowers, that have specific characteristics that determine their use. They may be sedative or stimulating, and have antibacterial and therapeutic qualities. Usually inhaled or used in treatments such as massages, where they are absorbed by the skin.


Removal of dry, dead skin cells and impurities that impede oxygenation, using products such as salt or herbs, or techniques such as dry brushing.

Eye treatment

Treatment that focuses on the delicate eye area, generally to combat signs of premature ageing, relieve tired eyes, and reduce puffiness and dryness.

Eyebrow shaping

Grooming the eyebrows, typically by tweezing to suit the facial features.


Treatment that cleanses and improves the complexion of the face using products that best suit a specific skin type. May include gentle exfoliation, steaming to open pores for extractions, application of a facial mask and moisturizer, and a facial massage. Types of facials include aromatic, oxygenating, whitening and deep cleansing facials.

Facial mask

Cleansing facial treatment where products are applied on the face and left on for a period of time to cleanse pores and slough off dead skin.

Facial scrub

Exfoliating face treatment that uses products with abrasive ingredients to remove dry, dead skin cells and improve blood circulation. Softens the skin and gives it a healthier glow.


Fruit of Ficus carica tree, native to the Middle East and Mediterranean and thought to be the world’s first cultivated tree. The fruit is a rich source of simple sugars, minerals and fibre, while the leaves have been found to help stabilize blood sugar levels in the body

Fitness facial for men

Facial that addresses men’s specific skin types and needs, including shaving rash. May include a face, neck and shoulder massage.

Floral bath

Flower-filled bath with essential oils.

Flotation therapy

Treatment where you float on salt and mineral water at body temperature in an enclosed flotation tank [also known as an isolation tank]. The feeling of weightlessness, and the isolation from external sensations and stimuli provide a deep feeling of relaxation and sensory awareness. May be done in complete silence and darkness, or with music and videos. A two-hour treatment is said to be the equiva

Four-handed massage

Massage performed in complete tandem by two therapists. Often uses a blend of massage techniques.


Aromatic gum resin from the North African Boswellia tree, formerly valued for ceremonial worship, embalming and fumigation. Forms a strong disinfectant when burned with other incense herbs.

G5 vibro massage

Deep vibrating massage using a G5 machine that relaxes, stimulates circulation and breaks down fatty deposits.

Glycolic facial

Facial treatment using alternating hot and cold 23-karat gold-plated spoons to open and close the pores. Stimulates circulation and helps the skin absorb creams and lotions.


Massage-like treatment using creams to cleanse and moisturize.

Gong fu

Generic term for martial arts that originated in China.


Workout room with weights, and a range of high-tech cardio and variable resistance equipment.

Hair services

Services for the hair, including cutting, styling, deep conditioning, hair colouring, and washing and blow drying.


Turkish steam bath using aromatherapy essences that cleanse, purify, and stimulate blood circulation. The typical Hammam consists of a series of interconnecting chambers and pools of varying temperatures; bathers can wander between rooms, starting from the coolest and moving to the hottest before completing their ritual in a cold plunge pool. In todays spas, it is usually part of an overall ritual


Common form of yoga, focuses on control through asanas and breathing techniques.

Hay diet

Diet, devised by American physician Dr William Howard, that recommends carbohydrates are eaten at separate mealtimes from proteins and acidic fruit. Carbohydrates and proteins are not to be eaten within four hours of each other. Pulses and peanuts are not included in this diet.


A dwarf shrub whose leaves are traditionally powdered to produce a pigment used for drying hair and tattooing the body and nails, their painted designs bearing different significances – from good health and fertility to wisdom and spiritual enlightenment. Believed to have healing and cooling properties, Henna has long been used to prepare concoctions for treating a myriad of ailments, from sun-i

Herbal compress treatment

Treatment where a heater muslin or cotton parcel of herbs and spices are placed on various parts of the body to relieve sore muscles, boast circulation and refresh the skin. The herbal packs are also used in place of hands to massage the body. Also known as herbal heat revival.

Herbal medicine

Steaming with herbs. The heat, moisture and fragrance of the herbs help to open the pores and promote relaxation.

Herbal wrap

Therapeutic use of herbs in treatments and diets.

High-impact aerobics

Aerobics involving jumping, jogging and hopping movements where both feet loose contact with the ground.

Holistic approach

Integrated approach to health and fitness that takes into account your lifestyle, and mental, physical and spiritual well-being.


Holistic health care practice, based on the concept of ‘like cures like’, that treats diseases by using minute doses of natural substances that in a healthy person would produce symptoms similar to what is already being experienced. The practice was developed by German physician Dr Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843).


A sweet viscous fluid processed by bees from nectar collected from flowers of plants. Traditionally used as an antiseptic for treating ulcers and wounds, and consumed to boost immunity as well as to soothe the throat, stressed skin and inflamed joints. [Bees also produce bee pollen, propolis and royal jelly, which share powerful health benefits.]

Hot plunge pool

Pool of hot water that helps open the capillaries.

Hot spring

Natural, sometimes volcanic, spring of hot mineral water.

Hot tub

Wooden tub of hot or cool water to soak the body.


Bathtub with water jets that pummel all parts of the body. Seawater may be used, or the water may be infused with essential oils or mineral salts. Relaxes, and stimulates muscle tone and circulation.


Underwater massage in a hydrobath equipped with high-pressure jets and hand-manipulated hoses to stimulate the blood and lymphatic circulations.


Pool fitted with various high pressure jets and fountains.


Therapeutic use of water which includes baths, steam baths, steam inhalation, In – and under-water massage, soaking in hot springs, and the use of hot, cold or alternating shower sprays.

Indonesian massage

The traditional massage of Indonesia that uses deep pressure and specially blended massage oils to ease tension and improve circulation.


Analysis of the marks and changes on the iris, which is divided into areas that are linked to specific body parts and functions, to diagnose a problem, or spot early signs of trouble, in order to recommend appropriate action.


Form of yoga that focuses on symmetry and alignment. Props are commonly used.


Traditional Indonesian herbal medicine.

Javanese lulur

Traditional fragrant scrub originating from the royal palaces of Java A blend of powdered spices, including turmeric and sandalwood, is rubbed on to the body. After the vibrantly coloured paste dries, it is removed with a gentle massage. The skin is then moisturized with yogurt. The lulur is often used to clean and pamper the bride during the week leading up to her wedding.

Jet-lag treatment

Treatment that specifically eases travel-associated aches, pains and stiffness, and helps the body to adjust to the new time zone.


Japanese traditional herbal medicine. Less commonly used to refer to the Japanese traditional healing system.


The life force that sustains the body. Known as qi in traditional Chinses medicine.


Use of fingertip pressure to locate weakness in specific muscles and diagnose a problem or asymptomatic illnesses. The fingertips are used to massage the appropriate points to disperse toxins and revitalize the flow of energy.

Kneipp baths

Herbal or mineral baths of varying temperatures combined with diet and exercise. Kneipp thereapy uses hot and cold hydrotherapy treatments to improve circulation.


A form of yoga that combines chanting and breathing exercises with different asanas. Designed to awaken the body’s kundalini energy.


Course of daily treatments using natural resources, such as algae and thermal mineral water, used to re-mineralize and balance the body.


Ancient meditation tool in which a single winding path leads to a central goal and back out again. Walking it is a metaphor for journeying to the centre of understanding and returning with a broadened outlook.

Lap pool

Swimming pool with exercise lanes. Standard lap pools are 25 metres in length.

Life coach counselling

Counselling sessions that help to solve daily problems, develop harmony with the self and contribute to understanding life’s natural philosophy.

Light therapy

Use of natural or artificial light to heal see chromatherapy and colour therapy.

Lomi Lomi

Massage originating in Hawaii that uses the forearms and elbows, rhythmical rocking movements, and long and broad strokes over the body.

Low-impact aerobics

Form of aerobics with side-to-side marching or gliding movements which spare the body from excessive stress and possible injuries.

Lymphatic drainage massage

Massage that uses a gentle pumping technique to stimulate lymphatic circulation, and thus reduce water retention and remove toxins. Lymph drainage can be achieved through manual massage or hydromassage. May be performed on the face and neck, or on the body.


Treatment that combines a massage with an application of biological products to improve the skin’s condition. Provides a radiant glow, reduces cellulite, restores hydration, controls acne, balances oily or dry skin, minimizes lines and wrinkles, and corrects post-surgical bruising and swelling.


Diet that aims to balance foods by their yin-yang qualities and according to your needs.

Malay massage

Traditional massage that uses pressure and long, kneading strokes. May be applied with herbal oil.


Treatment that beautifies the hands and nails. Hands are initially soaked and exfoliated with a scrub to remove dead skin cells, cuticles are groomed, and nails are trimmed and shaped. Nails may be buffed to a shine or coated with a polish. May include a hand massage.


Hand and arm treatment comprising a scrub and heated seaweed massage.

Marine aerosol treatment

Inhalation of ionic seawater mist to cleanse the respiratory system. Alleviates breathing problems caused by asthma or smoking.

Marma point massage

Ayuredic massage in which the marma points are massaged with the thumb or index fingers in clockwise circles. Focuses on the face, neck, scalp and shoulders.

Marma points

The ayuredic vital energy points. It’s believed that the dysfunction of any marma point leads to illness.


Therapy that uses manipulative and soft tissue techniques that are generally based on concepts of the anatomy, physiology and human function. Relaxes, creates a sense of well-being, eases strain and tension, mobilizes stiff joints, improves blood circulation, improves the digestive system, and encourages the removal of toxins from the body. Generally delivered by hand, though machines and high pow


Male massage therapist


Female massage therapist.


Method of deep breathing, mental concentration and contemplation. During meditation, breathing, brain activity, and heart and pulse rates slow, encouraging the body to relax and achieve a greater sense of inner balance and peace. Relieves stress, removes pain and reduces blood pressure.

Meridian stretching

Stretching exercises designed to encourage physical and mental flexibility, for the body and mind to perform at their peak. Combines exercise, yoga and traditional Chinese medicine.


Pathways or channels through which the vital energy circulates throughout the body. All illnesses are believed to result from an imbalance or blockage of this flow.


Clinical skin-resurfacing procedure where a jet of fine crystals is vacuumed across the surface of the face to remove the topmost layer of skin.


Rich source of calcium, protein and vitamins necessary for healthy growth and development. Fermented to produce cheese and yoghurt. In skincare, used in the form of cleansing and moisturizing milk baths to improve skin tone and texture.


Supply of minerals to the body.

Moor mud wrap

Treatment with moor mud, which has anti-inflammatory and astringent properties ideal for detoxification and treatment of arthritic and skin ailments as well as hormonal and fertility problems.

Moroccan Mint Tea

A brew of green and mint leaves. Ideal refresher for the hot, dry North African climate.


Burning of the dried herb moxa around the acupoints to relieve pain. Cones of moxa are applied either directly onto the skin, or indirectly with an insulating layer of other herbs.

Mud pool

Pool with a central pedestal of volcanic mud. The mud is self-applied to the body and left to dry in the sun before being rinsed off leaving the skin deeply cleansed.

Mud treatment

Mineral-rich mud used to detoxify, loosen muscles and stimulate circulation.

Mukh Lepa

An ayurevidic facial treatment.

Myofacial release

Use of the fingers, palms, forearms and elbows in long, deliberate, gliding strokes to stretch and mobilize the fascia[connective tissue that surrounds and supports the muscles, organs and bones]to provide long-term relief of pain and promote well-being.

Nail art

Beautification of the nails with patterns, paintings or other decorative motifs.


Use of nasal medicated drops to clear the nasal passages to help allergies. One of the five purification techniques in panchakarma.


Holistic approach that believes in the body’s ability to heal itself. Uses treatments not to alleviate symptoms, but to encourage the body’s self-healing mechanism. Symptoms are viewed not as a part of the illness, but as the body’s way of ridding itself of the problem. Also known as natural medicine.


Ayurvedic massage using small linen bags – filled with rice cooked in milk mixed with a herbal blend – to induce sweat. Applied with medicated oil. Strengthens and rejuvenates.

Nutritional consultation

Consultation with a qualified nutritional practitioner to review eating habits and dietary needs. Taking into account your lifestyle, food intolerance, appetite control and weight goals, the nutritionist may compile a nutritionally balanced programme to help you attain optimal health and weight.


Japanese natural hot springs.

Organic food

Food grown without the use of pesticides or other chemicals.

Ovo lacto vegetarian

Vegan who consumes milk and egg products.

Ovo vegetarian

Vegan who consumes egg products.


Ayuredic therapy [vamana, virechana, vasti, nasya and raktamakshana] that helps rid the body of its toxins.

Paraffin treatment

Application of warm paraffin wax on the hands and feet to the skin to absorb toxins. Leaves the skin silky soft.


Treatment that beautifies the feet and nails. Feet are soaked and exfoliated with a scrub to remove dead skin cells, cuticles are groomed, and nails are trimmed and shaped. Nails may be buffed to a shine or coated with a polish. May include a foot and calf massage.


Treatment in which feet and legs are dipped in alternate tubs of bubbling jets of warm and cold seawater to improve blood circulation.


The use of mud in packs, wraps or baths for the medicinal treatment of rheumatic, skin and digestive ailments.

Personal fitness assessment

Programme that assesses your current fitness levels to recommend a suitable exercise programme. May include tests for aerobic capacity, body composition, blood pressure, heart rate, and muscular endurance and strength.

Personal training

One-on-one personalized workout with a qualified instructor.


Vegetarian who consumes fish.


Rehabilitative therapy that helps recovery from injury, surgery or disease. Treatments – which include massage, traction, hydrotherapy, corrective exercise and electrical stimulation – help to relieve pain, increase strength and improve the range of motion.


Exercise comprising slow, precise movements with special exercise equipment that engage the body and mind, and increase flexibility and strength without building bulk.


Ayurevedic massage in which lukewarm herbal oils are gently and rhythmically applied to the body by two to four therapists.

Pregnancy massage

Pre-natal massage that deals with the special needs of a mother-to-be, and anti-natal massages that deal with her needs after she has delivered. Some spas have massage tables with a hole in the centre to accommodate a pregnant woman.


Computerized pressure massage that uses a specially designed airbag that compresses and deflates to improve the circulation throughout the feet and legs.


Two Ayuredic treatments [snehana and svedana]that soften and cleanse the skin in preparation for panchakarma.


Vital energy or ‘life force’ of the universe and the body. Also known as ki [Japanese] and prana [Indian].

Qi gong

Chinese physical exercise of working with or mastering qi. Uses breathing and body movement to help develop a powerful qi.


Blood purification treatment for illnesses such as skin problems using surgical instruments or leeches. One of the five purification techniques in panchakarma.

Rasul (Rasool)

Traditional Arabian cleansing ritual performed in a Tiled steam room in which different muds are applied to the body before being washed off. Often used as pre-massage treatment in the modern day.


Application of finger-point pressure to reflex zones on the feet – and to a lesser extent, hands – to improve circulation, ease pain, relax the body and re-establish the flow of energy through the body. Its underlying theory is that specific areas on the feet and hands correspond with specific body parts, organs and glands, and that the manipulation of specific areas can bring about change ass


Healing technique based on ancient Tibetan teachings. The practitioner places his palms over or on various areas of the body for a few minutes each to energize and balance the body, mind and spirit. Helps treat physical problems, heat emotional stresses and encourage personal transformation.

Rosewater and rose essential oil

Aromatherapy essences widely used in skincare for dry, sensitive or ageing skin, to diminish enlarged facial capillaries and act as an antiseptic for eye irritations. The oil contains cleansing, purifying and anti-depressant properties and also aids in regulating the menstrual cycle.


Spice harvested from the crocus sativus plant and added to recipes for flavour and aroma. Long used in ayuirvedic medicine to alleviate various disorders and lack of vitality. Today it is also valued for its relaxant, anti-oxidant and possibly, anti-carcinogenic properties.

Salt scrub

Exfoliating treatment where the body is rubbed with a mixture of coarse salt and essential oils to remove dry, dead skin cells and stimulate circulation.


Ayurvedic herbal medicine that works to balance the doshas.


Dry heat, wood-lined treatment room. The heat brings on sweating to help cleanse the body of impurities and relax the muscles. Usually followed by a cold plunge or shower.


A small shrub native to the upper Nile regions of Africa and the Arabian peninsula. Its leaves and seeds are processed into crushed herbs and tea, which are commonly consumed as a laxative.


Massage that uses finger pressure – and also hands, forearms, elbows, knees and feet – on acupoints. Calms and relaxes.


Ayurvedic massage in which warmed medicated oil steadily drips on the forehead, or the third eye. Relieves mental tension and clams the mind.


Ayurvedic treatment in which warm herbal medicated oil is massaged on to the head after which a closely fitted cap is worn for a while to retain the therapeutic benefits of the oil.

Signature treatment

Treatment specially created by a spa or spa group, often using indigenous ingredients.


A form of yoga based on the 12 sun salutation postures.


Ayurvedic oil therapy in which a mixture of herbs, oils and natural ingredients are massaged on to the body, The oils may also be taken orally or introduced as enemas. One of the two preparatory treatments in purvakarma.


Term, originating from the name of a town in Belgium where people flocked to in the 17th century for its healing waters, that refers to anything from a mineral spring to an establishment which provides facilities and services that helps you achieve a sense of well-being. Many spas also provide fitness activities, classes on well-being and spa cuisine. Types of spas include day spas [spas for day u

Spa cuisine

Light, healthy meals served at spas. Typically low in calories, fat and salt.

Spa menu

Selection of treatments and therapies offered by a spa.

Spa package

Two or more treatments offered together. Often longer in length and good value.

Sports massage

Deep tissue massage directed at muscles used in athletic activities to help the body achieve its maximum physical efficiency. Before physical exertion, it buffers against pain and injury; after, it helps remove lactic acid and restore muscle tone and range of movement.

Steam room

Tiled room with benches in which steam is generated at high pressure and temperature. The steam opens the pores, eliminates toxins, cleanses the skin and relaxes the body.


Use of hot steam – often infused with essential oils or herbs – to relax the body, soften the skin, and open up the pores to prepare the face or body for treatment. Hair may also be steamed by wrapping it in a hot towel or exposing it to steam.

Step aerobics

Aerobic sessions done with a small platform for stepping up and down.

Stone therapy

Massage where hot, warm or cold smooth stones are rubbed in long, flowing strokes on to the oiled body, then placed on energy points to ease away tension. Also known as hot stone massage or la stone® therapy.

Stress management

Techniques to deal with stress and anxiety.


Flexibility workout where various parts of the body are stretched by assuming different positions. Helps increase flexibility, and relieve stress and tension.


Body purification method to cleanse and relax through sweat therapy. One of the two preparatory treatments in purvakarma.

Swedish massage

Massage in which oils are applied to the body with techniques such as gliding, kneading, rubbing, tapping and shaking. Relieves stress, tension and muscle pain; improves circulation; increases flexibility; and induces relaxation.

Tai chi

Graceful movement that combines mental concentration with deep, controlled breathing. Regular practice brings about relaxation and good health. Stimulates the body’s energy systems and enhances mental functions.


A form of yoga that includes visualization, chanting, asana and strong breathing practices.

Thai herbal massage

Massage using a warmed pouch of steamed Thai herbs pressed against the body’s meridians.

Thai massage

Traditional massage of Thailand, influenced by Chinese and Indian healing arts, that involves a combination of stretching and gentle rocking, and uses a range of motions and acupressure techniques. The massage is oil-free, and performed on a traditional Thai mattress on the floor. Loose clothing is worn.


Treatments that harness mineral – and vitamin–rich seawater and seaweed for curative and preventive purposes. True thalassotherapy centres are located no more than 800 metres [2,625 feet]from the shore, and constantly pump fresh seawater filtered through large canals for use in the treatments.

Thermal bath

Therapeutic use of thermal water rich in salts and minerals.

Traditional Chinese medicine [TCM]

Holistic system of care that sees the body and mind as a whole. Treatments include herbal medicine, physical and mental exercises, and therapies such as acupuncture and moxibustion.

Treatments for couples

Typically treatments that a couple can enjoy together with a therapist pampering each person. Treatments specially designed for couples usually use an aphrodisiac blend of essential oils.

Tui na

Chinese system of manual therapy used to treat specific illnesses of an internal nature and musculoskeletal ailments. Principal hand strokes include pushing [tui], grasping [na], pressing [an], rubbing [mo], rolling [gun], pulling [qian], beating [da]and shaking [dou]. The hands, arms, elbows and feet may be used.

Turkish bath

Series of hot and humid steam rooms, each of which increases in heat. You spend several minutes in each room and finish with a cool shower.


The consumption of potions to induce vomiting to treat bronchitis, and throat, chest and heart problems. One of the five purification techniques in panchakarma.


Use of enemas to calm nerves and treat fatigue, dry skin and digestive imbalances. One of the five purification techniques in panchakarma.


Person who exclusively consumes a vegetable and fruit diet, and does not eat animal products such as butter, cheese, eggs and milk.


Person who consumes mainly vegetables, fruit, nuts, pulses and grains and who does not eat meat or fish, but eats animal products such as butter, cheese, eggs and milk.

Vichy shower

Spray of water from five micro-jets fixed to a horizontal rail which rain down on you while you lie on a table below. May also include a massage. Also known as affusion shower or rain shower.

Vietnamese massage

Invigorating massage that uses a combination of deep strokes and percussive movements. Benefits include stimulating the blood and lymphatic circulation, improving the skin texture and tone, and warming muscle tissue.


Drinking a herb tea to help flush out elements that may clog the digestive tract. One of the five purification techniques in panchakarma.


Technique that involves focusing the mind by consciously creating a mental image of a desired condition to bring about change. May be self-directed or therapist guided. Also known as imaging.


Often described as Shiatsu in water, Watsu is a therapy where you float in a swimming pool of warm water (around 35degC). Supported by a therapist who manipulates your body with a deeply relaxing combination of water-based exercises, flotation, stretches, rhythmic movements and pressure point massage to bring deep relaxation.


Temporary hair removal method. Warm or cool wax, usually honeycomb blended with oils, is applied on to areas of unwanted hair. A cloth is smoothed on to the area and quickly whisked off, pulling the hair off with the wax.

Wet area

Area in a spa where Jacuzzis, saunas, cold tubs, hot tubs, steam baths and pressure showers are located.


Hot bath with high pressure jets on the sides and bottom that circulate the water. Massages muscles and relaxes the body.

Whitening treatment

Treatment that brightens the skin, restores lost radiance and tones pigmentation marks.

Yin and yang

Yin is the universal energy force whose characteristics are feminine, cold, dark, quiet, static and wet. Yang is masculine, warm, bright, dynamic and dry. In traditional Chinese medicine, true balance and health are achieved when these two opposing forces are in balance. Also known as in and yo [Japanese].


Ancient Hindu practice comprising focused deep breathing, and stretching and toning the body using various postures [asanas]. The ultimate goal is to reach your full physical, mental and spiritual potential. Relaxes and improves circulation, flexibility and strength.