indian springs

For several months I had dreamed of floating in the pool. Lying on my back, gazing up at a canopy of stars, soothed by the volcanically heated water””I had gone to that place in my imagination when I needed a calming moment. Now, here I was, enveloped by the warm water of the Olympic-sized pool at Indian Springs in Calistoga. The pool is a fixture spa-goers seek out at Indian Springs. Up against a hill, it is filled with warm water from the three geysers on the property. Decks and patios with comfortable lounge chairs surround it and, at one end, there is a large outdoor fireplace for further coziness and warmth. Any client who has a treatment at the spa is entitled to use the pool for swimming and floating. I had come for the pool but would stay for the mud. Mud, you say? Yes, mud. A large vat of hot mud awaited me deep in the heart of the spa. It was a daunting sight but the compassionate attendants helped to ease me in and cover me up to my neck. The pores opened, the toxins came out and just when I thought my radiator might burst, an icy washcloth opened my third eye. A couple minutes later I was helped out of the mud vat and into a shower for a quick rinse. Next came a lovely tub of volcanically heated mineral water. This was no ordinary tub but a model from the early 20th century, complete with claw feet, a movable shelf across its middle with a pumice bar, and lemon water with a straw. Just when I thought I’d reached nirvana, I was whisked into the steam room and back to more toxin releasing. Finally the goddess attendant led me to a quiet room to lie down. I was swaddled in a clean, cotton blanket. Soothing, cool cucumber slices were placed over my closed eyes and I drifted in a meditative state, utterly relaxed and feeling squeaky clean. The mud bath has been a specialty of Indian Springs since 1871. Millions of years ago, Mt. Konocti volcano erupted about twenty miles from Calistoga. The volcano caused fissures in the earth and deposited layers of volcanic ash. The fissures allowed magma-heated water to escape as geysers, which now supply all the water needs at Indian Springs. The water is full of minerals and salts that nourish and facilitate healing on many different levels. Soaking in and drinking the water, as well as inhaling the steam vapor, brings a host of positive effects to the body, including increasing oxygen-rich blood flow, elevating body temperature””which wards off harmful viruses””stimulating organs to aid in digestion, eliminating toxins, enhancing the immune system, and providing deep relaxation. The ash from the now-dormant volcano is mined on the property and is mixed with the hot mineral water to produce warm black mud. The mud increases blood circulation, exfoliates the skin and feels delicious on tense muscles. Even though the treatment is soaking in mud, I can attest to how clean, soft and relaxed I felt afterwards. Indian Springs offers a large variety of treatments at their spa in addition to the mud bath. Massages of all types””facials, scrubs, body wraps, polishes and foot treatments””are all available from experienced practitioners. There is a lovely pond with a giant gold statue of the Buddha to relax by in between treatments. The sound of the capped geysers’ gentle hissing is always in the background, reminding one that Indian Springs is a system that supplies itself with energy, water, heat and mud. I came for the pool, stayed for the mud and was soon ensconced in one of the adorable bungalows on the property. Built in the ’40s, the bungalows have been remodeled to accommodate the modern traveler with lush beds, cushy robes, plank floors and whitewashed walls. Kitchenettes and plasma TVs fill all the gaps. Outside there are hammocks to lounge in and bicycle surreys to pedal around town. Indian Springs is a place for total replenishment on many different levels: rejuvenating health by taking the waters, awakening the guru inside by spending time in sacred and historic places, or getting the body worked on to help move the prana around, nourishing the mind with deep relaxation. Any time is the perfect time for a trip to Indian Springs. Read next >> water magic: get moving with a chestnut bud bath

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