This article originally appeared as a guest blog for Pravassa, a healthy travel website.
"Ah" is a word, an interjection expressing pleasure, pain, or sadness, depending on the situation. It was the first word that entered my mind as I left the iDo Holistic Center, and in this case, "ah" was used with great pleasure after my 90-minute sauna/massage treatment.
Located in Midtown, iDo (pronounced EE dough) specializes in traditional Japanese shiatsu massage. Tucked in an unassuming office building near Grand Central Station, the place did not blow me away with its decor, and I didn't say, "Ah" when the elevator door opened into the somewhat plain lobby. But that didn't matter. Sam Kaneoka, my masseur, greeted me, and we discussed the details of my treatment: 30 minutes for the kampo herbal sauna and a shower, a 45-minute shiatsu massage, and a 15-minute ear stimulation.
On this sweltering day, I was already sweating from my walk to iDo when I entered the sauna. The scent of the kampo was a little too medicinal at first, but once I adjusted to the heat and the smell, I began to relax. Kampo is the Japanese version of Chinese medicine, and iDo's kampo sauna is infused with medicinal herbs. After about 20 minutes in the sauna, I hopped in the shower - again, nothing fancy - then headed to room #2 for my full body massage.
Before Sam began, he asked me if I had any trouble spots that needed extra attention. Since I spend the majority of my time hunched over a computer keyboard, I asked him to concentrate on my shoulders. With that, Sam went to work. Ah! The massage was tremendous. A little painful at times, but nothing I couldn't handle.
After the massage, Sam gave me the ear stimulation. The Japanese believe that massaging the ears helps the entire body, a theory based on old Oriental medicine. It was the first time I'd experienced that, and I didn't know what to expect. It was so relaxing that I almost fell asleep.
I know I'll return to iDo - possibly with my husband for a couple's massage - and I recommend the place to anyone who wants to feel healthy and relaxed. Give one of iDo's massage treatments a try. The experience will leave you saying, "Ah!"
iDo Holistic Center is located a 9 E. 45th Street (8th floor) between Madison and 5th Avenues. Hours are Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. and weekends from 11:30 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. For more information, go to their website, and to make an appointment call 212.599.5300.
Have you received an incredible (or maybe not-so-incredible) Japanese shiatsu massage in New York City? Where? Leave your comments below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.