Spa Therapy - Glossary Terms


An Ayurvedic massage, which uses special oils and strokes, according to the ailment to be treated.

Acupressure massage:

This ancient Chinese finger massage technique releases muscular tension by applying pressure to pressure points in the body.


A relatively painless healing technique based on Taoist philosophy. It uses fine needles, low voltage electric current, or pinpoint massage to relieve muscular and neurological problems, and arthritis.


A series of rhythmic exercises set to music to enhance cardiovascular and muscular strength and to burn fat.


Aerobic exercises simulating boxing movements, and set to music.


Aerobic exercises in a swimming pool using the support and resistance of the water for a series of stretch, strength and stamina exercises.


Light lymphatic body massage using fragrant essential oils from plants and flowers chosen for a specific purpose, such as to relax or stimulate.


An ancient Indian system of healing and medicine; combines the therapeutic use of oils and herbs with massage.

Behaviour modification:

Counselling and psychological conditioning to effect changes in personal habits.


The use of an electronic sensing device to monitor and control blood pressure, pulse rate, digestion and muscular tension.

Body composition analysis:

An evaluation of he ratio of body fat to lean muscle mass, used to determine a realistic weight loss goal and create a diet and exercise programme suited to the individual.

Body polish:

A full body scrub with a loofah sponge, sea salt and warm oil. Stimulates the circulation and removes dead skin.

Brush and tone:

By dry brushing the skin, this exfoliating treatment removes dead layers and impurities and stimulates circulation.

Caliper test:

A measure device used to determine the percentage of body fat.

Circuit weight training:

Weight resistance equipment is used in a high-energy aerobic workout.


Realignment of the spine to relieve backaches and improve posture.


In this Ayurvedic process, some herbal oils, medicated milk, medicated butter milk, etc. are poured on the forehead in a special method for about 45 minutes. This treatment is mainly for insomnia, mental tension and certain skin diseases.


A professional who performs facials.


Mineral-rich mud is applied over the body as a heat pack, then washed off with a loofah. Detoxifies, soothes muscles and stimulates circulation.

Fitness trainer:

A professional who performs one-on-one fitness training programmes.

Floatation tank:

A tank filled with a foot or so of mineral water, in which the spa guest floats in darkness to reach a deep state of relaxation.


Creams are massaged in long strokes into the skin to cleanse, slough dead skin and rehydrate.

Herbal wrap:

Strips of cloth are soaked in warm herbal solution and wrapped around the body to draw out impurities and promote relaxation.

Holistic health:

A philosophy of health and healing which seeks to integrate the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of life.


A form of medicine which treats disease with small doses of natural substances to stimulate the body to heal itself.


Water oriented treatments such as underwater jet massage, showers, jet sprays and mineral baths.


Ayurvedic treatment which uses herbal leaves, herbs or herbal powders that are applied to the whole body with hot medicated oils. This treatment is effective for all types of arthritis, spondilitis, sports injuries etc.

Lomi :

An energetic, rhythmic, rocking massage technique developed in Hawaii.

Low-impact aerobics:

To prevent muscle fatigue and pressure on joints, no jumping is involved in this form of aerobic exercise.

Lymph drainage:

A specific massage technique used to drain away water retention and trapped toxins.

Massage therapists:

Professionals who perform all body treatments as well as massage.


A ritual of complete concentration on a particular thought or object, which soothes and rests the mind.

Moor peat baths:

Rich in organic matter, proteins, vitamins and trace minerals; eases aches and pains.


An Ayurvedic treatment in which the whole body or a specific port is made to perspire by the application of certain medicinal puddings, very effective for all types of rheumatism, joint pains, emasciation of limbs, blood pressure, cholesterol and certain kinds of skin diseases.


A stretching device for the neck and spine.


Volcanic mud mixed with paraffin wax eases pain associated with rheumatism and arthritis.

Paraffin treatment:

Warm paraffin wax brushed over the body traps heat and draws out toxins. Promotes relaxation and leaves the skin silky smooth.


An outdoor trail with exercise stations placed along the way.


Herbs, aromatic essential oils, seaweed and herbal floral extracts are applied through massage, packs or wraps, water and steam therapies, inhalation treatments and homeopathy. Drinking herbal tea is also a form of phytotherapy.


A full body conditioning programme which simultaneously stretches and strengthens muscles.


This is an Ayurvedic treatment, where lukewarm herbal oils are applied all over the body by two to four trained technicians in a special rhythmic way continuously; very useful for rheumatism and arthritis.

Polarity massage:

A massage technique which releases energy through gentle manipulation.


Pressure point massage – usually on the feet, but also on the hands and ears – to restore the flow of energy and relax the body.


A massage technique designed to correct musculo-skeletal alignment problems through intensive manipulations of stiff muscles, bones and joints.

Roman bath:

A hot whirlpool/Jacuzzi with benches for sitting.

Salt glow:

Coarse salt, sometimes combined with fragrant oils, is rubbed into the body to remove outer layers of dead skin and stimulate circulation.


A wood lined room filled with dry heat to open pores and eliminate toxins through sweating.

Sea mud treatment:

Mineral rich mud from saline waters is applied to the skin; detoxifies and can also ease the pain of rheumatism and arthritis.

Seaweed scrub:

Powdered seaweed and oil or water is scrubbed vigourously into the body to remove dead skin and saturate the skin with minerals and vitamins.

Seaweed wrap:

Concentrated seawater and seaweed full of nutrients from the ocean are applied as a wrap or mask. Minerals, rare trace elements, vitamins and proteins are absorbed into the bloodstream to revitalise the skin and body.


Developed in Japan, this acupressure massage technique applies pressure to specific points in the body to stimulate and open the pathways in the body through which life energy flows.


An exercise technique which simulates the same lateral movements as ice-skating and roller-blading.

Spa programmer:

A staff member who schedules spa treatments and services.


Exercise combining stationary bicycling and weights, set to music.

Sports massage:

A deep tissue massage directed specifically at muscles used in athletic activities.

Sports physiologist:

A professional who performs fitness testing and one-on-one training. Must hold a master’s degree in physiology.

Steam room:

A tiled room with benches where steam is generated to high temperatures. This treatment is used to open pores and detoxify.

Step aerobics:

This form of aerobic workout uses a small platform to step on and off repeatedly.


Extending various parts of the body through different body positions. Relieves tension and stress and increases flexibility.

Swedish massage:

A classical European massage technique using oils and gentle manipulation to ease muscle aches and tension, improve circulation and flexibility and enhance relaxation.

Swiss Shower:

An invigorating massage is created by directing powerful shower jets at the body from various heights, and alternating hot and cold water.

Tai Chi:

A Chinese martial art form which combines meditation and exercise.


Any treatment which is based on the therapeutic benefits of the sea and its products; for example, seaweed and algae wraps and seawater hydrotherapy.

Trager massage:

Uses gentle, rhythmic movements to release tension and realign the body.


This is a typical Ayurvedic massage with herbal powders and is usually used to treat diseases like paralysis and certain rheumatic ailments.

Vichy shower:

While the spa guest lies on a waterproof, cushioned mat, he/she is showered by several jets. Often followed by exfoliating treatments such as scrubs, loofah or salt glow.


Warm wax is applied to remove unwanted hair from the face, arms, legs or body.


High-pressure jets circulate hot water through a pool. Soothes muscles and relaxes.


An Indian practise and philosophical discipline using postures and controlled breathing to stretch and tone, improve circulation and relax.