Practical Magic

The new Pratima Ayurvedic Skincare Spa Clinic (New York City) is based on a captivating mix of ancient philosophy and modern elegance. Recently relocated from a small office in midtown Manhattan to a stylish new site in the trendy Soho shopping district, the spa is a gorgeous relaxation haven for harried New Yorkers. An homage to the centuries-old art of Ayurvedic medicine, the six-treatment-room retreat, helmed by famed Ayurvedic healer Pratima Raichur, N.D., is a warm oasis of Indian-influenced design filled with authentic Indian statues and imported furniture.

Ayurvedic healing is at the heart of the menu, and each of the therapies uses Pratima, a line of skincare products created by Raichur that is formulated with herbs, essential oils, and flower essences and are designed for specific skin and body types. "Each client's treatment is customized according to his or her dosha utilizing only organic herbal extracts, botanicals, and pure oils," says Raichur.

Body treatments using soothing botanical oils and other natural ingredients are performed in the decorative treatment rooms.
Body treatments using soothing botanical oils and other natural ingredients are performed in the decorative treatment rooms.

Menu highlights include the blissful Shirodhara ($85, 60 minutes), which includes a front-of-body massage followed by warm oil being poured over the "third eye" area on the client's forehead and a deep scalp massage, and the healing Ayurvedic Facial ($85, 60 minutes), which is customized to vata, kapha, or pitta skin types. The distinctive Kalyani Facial ($100, 60 minutes) and Kalyani Body Treatment ($195, 2 1/2 hours), which Raichur imported directly from the ashrams of India, rejuvenate and provide anti-aging benefits using bundles of organic rice, saffron, milk, sandalwood, ghee, and 15 other herbs. "We wanted to provide all-natural and customized treatments that would yield results internally and externally and that would take into consideration the stressful and fast-paced New York-style clientele," says Raichur.

The clinic also features the country's only Rudraksha bead room, where a unique, hands-free stress reduction treatment transports guests into a state of deep meditation. According to spa director Rosemarie Sepulveda, Rudraksha beads are the seeds from the Upsalum tree, which is found in India and Nepal, and carry an electromagnetic energy used to heal and balance.

Herbal teas and scented candles make the cozy relaxation room a serene setting for pre- and post-treatment relaxation.
Herbal teas and scented candles make the cozy relaxation room a serene setting for pre- and post-treatment relaxation.

But the clinic goes beyond soothing stress-reduction treatments and a unique meditation room. It is also a mecca for the longtime beneficiaries of Raichur's renowned natural medicine practice. The acclaimed naturopathic doctor opened her clinic in 1981 and has since become a revered expert in Ayurvedic healing, working with clients from around the world. Raichur's loyal followers flock to the clinic to partake in her consultations and life coaching. She offers advice on diet, sleep, herbal supplements, and exercise and teaches meditation, breathing techniques, and more to help her clients reach a state of internal harmony that matches their glowing post-treatment skin.

This well-rounded commitment to healing the entire person has paid off. According to Raichur, she has a range of clients from all walks of life, from yoga enthusiasts to medical doctors who ascribe to the holistic principles of Ayurveda to those who seek help for skincare problems they previously thought were incurable, such as eczema and psoriasis. "It is a very eclectic and nurturing environment," says Raichur. "Our clients look for alternative modalities, products that are one hundred percent natural, and authentic non-invasive treatments that are healing and yield results."

At the clinic, Raichur's commitment to Ayurveda is matched by her commitment to the environment. Currently, it is one of the few green spas in New York City. Natural cork and bamboo flooring, flaxseed and hemp carpets, non-toxic paint and natural earth clay on the walls, recycled cotton insulation, organic cotton and hemp spa uniforms and linens, biodegradable cleaning products, plant-based ink and paper, and filtered air make the clinic a truly natural place to relax. "We wanted to create an environment that embraces the integrity, aesthetic, and philosophy of Ayurveda and Vastu, which is the Indian version of feng shui," explains Raichur. "We believe that our surroundings have a profound impact on our inner peace and balance, therefore we continually strive to provide a healthy, safe environment for our clients and employees. In gratitude to the earth that sustains all life, we maintain a strong commitment to making wise, socially responsible use of our resources."

Blooming lotus flower light sculptures and intricate woodwork from India create an inviting entrance to the spa.
Blooming lotus flower light sculptures and intricate woodwork from India create an inviting entrance to the spa.

As it has been since she started her practice, Raichur hasn't had to rely much on marketing and public relations efforts to promote the new location. Since it opened last May, the clinic has been thriving, due mostly to word-of-mouth recommendations from both longtime and new clients. Raichur says that she and her 10 full-time staff members, many of whom are former clients, can handle around 35 to 40 spa-goers per day. But she and her team will lower that number if needed to keep the experience more personal and individualized to help guide clients to overall wellness.

It is this serene, results-focused philosophy that is likely to keep clients returning for a lifetime, something that suits Raichur perfectly fine. "Many people nowadays want the quick-fix instead of the lifelong commitment and benefits of well-being, which is the true way of preventing disease and to delay the aging process," says Raichur. "Aging is a part of life and nature and cannot be stopped. However, we truly can age in a youthful, healthful, and beautiful manner."

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