We were visited recently by a gifted writer, Boris Fishman, who was writing a story for Travel + Leisure about our region. Needless to say, we felt deeply grateful and excited!
The article was published in the February 2022 print edition on page 100 and is now available online. It is a wonderful story about the special nature of our Russian River neighborhood with profiles on some of the most interesting people and places to visit.
Boris found our one-of-a-kind heat treatment, the Cedar Enzyme Bath, much to his liking. Our Cedar Enzyme Bath is a unique therapeutic body treatment from Japan, found nowhere else on this continent. It is a bathing ritual that involves immersing your entire body in a mixture of soft and fragrant ground cedar and rice bran with living enzymes.
If you have not experienced the Cedar Enzyme Bath for yourself, it is time to book a visit now! You can improve your health, exfoliate your skin, and reduce overall stress all in one treatment. This unique experience is also a great way to prepare your body for a relaxing massage.
Osmosis Day Spa offers numerous packages allowing you to create the right combination of services to maximize your visit! Convenient online booking can be found at the following link osmosis.com/online-reservations. Plus, learn more of the lasting benefits here.
And, finally, we invite you to check out our feature and a lovely roundup of West County in Travel + Leisure!
The inspiration for Osmosis was born in Japan the day I took my first enzyme bath in the spring of 1984. As the healing warmth of the bath enveloped my entire body, I was relieved of a crushing nerve pain that had plagued my body for months. At the same time, I dropped into an indescribable experience of sensing the entire universe like never before. As a minuscule part of this journey, a vivid picture of a healing sanctuary with the enzyme bath at the core surrounded by meditative Japanese style gardens and gracious hospitality flashed before my minds eye. From this remarkable moment, I knew it was my calling to bring the Japanese enzyme bath back to West County.
Largest Enzyme bath in Japan
I knew nothing about spas or business. I found a partner in Calistoga who helped me learn about how spas work in exchange for providing the enzyme bath to his mud bath spa. On November 11th, 1984, the foundation was poured for a 400 Sq. ft. prototype which was built out of wood from a recycled chicken coop in Theresa Beldon’s back yard west of Sebastopol. I worked with my friend Steve Stucky from Zen center to create a garden with a stream and beautiful stones to greet guests when they arrived on their way to the small building on the hillside setting.
Prototype Foundation pour 11/11 1984 with Bruce, Evan and Chris Fortin, Ruho Yamada, Allison Dykstra, Eileen and Fay Mulligan
The first baths were offered in May of 1985. My tools were a snow shovel, wheelbarrow, sifting screens and a 1950 Chevy pick up truck with a long bed and tall sides. For years I shoveled, sifted and hauled tons of sawdust as I searched different sources, trying different wood species and delivering the mix to the spa in Calistoga every week. It was a slow start and building interest took time. It was a hand to mouth time and I lived in the same room that I received guests, managing to store my bedding and keep a basic kitchen in a 4-x4 storage area.
First day to offer the enzyme bath May 25th 1985
Photo by Linda Solomon
In the fall of 1987, an article about the enzyme bath was published in the Sunday section of the San Francisco Chronicle. The phone went crazy for months! There were far more people wanting to come than either the Calistoga outlet or the Sebastopol prototype could handle. It was time to start looking for a larger place. I saw an ad in the classifieds for commercial property in the bucolic village of Freestone. When I went to see the place, it was really hard to visualize how it could be nice. The property was very run down with an enormous amount of junk stacked up on the 5 acres. The back of the property along the creek was an undisturbed wilderness paradise that called out for love and protection.
After lots of soul searching, I decided to go for it. It took an arduous 18-month process of fundraising, design work and working through 18 governmental agencies to find out if it could really even happen. In the end, permits were issued and investment money came in, 400 cubic yards of debris was removed, and a complete renovation of the property was completed for a grand opening on November 11th, 1989. My cousin Susan Stein with an extensive background in hotel management soon arrived as Osmosis’s 1st hospitality manager and applied her exceptional expertise and talent to help shape the emerging company culture.
As the boom of the ’90s unfolded, things really took off and the business grew. Outdoor massage areas were added and the main building was repeatedly expanded. Osmosis was one of the only spas in the area for years outside of Calistoga. We were featured in the New York Times several times and as well as a favorite local television show, Bay Area Back Roads, that aired following the Super Bowl Sunday in 1997 which packed the house for months.
First Pagoda Massage 1993
We began the construction of a Kyoto style meditation garden designed by a world expert on Japanese gardens and built by Zen priest Steve Stucky and his landscape crew in 2000. Taking time to view the garden adds an enormous aura of tranquility to the Osmosis experience. It has since been meticulously curated by two dedicated garden artists and has become recognized as one of the most authentic Japanese style gardens in the US.
Meditation Garden 2003
In 2006, we doubled down on our commitment to sustainability and conducted a total eco renovation of the property and our operations including building a constructed wetland to recycle all the gray water from the spa. At that time, I also founded the Green Spa Network which has become a national organization supporting environmental consciousness and practices within the spa industry.
Constructed Wetlands 2006
As a cornerstone of our business our remarkable staff formed the following vision and mission for Osmosis:
Introduce and establish the enzyme bath as a genuinely beneficial form of heat therapy.
Build a profitable, sustainable business enterprise that conveys a right-livelihood opportunity/situation for owners, managers, and employees.
Create a restful sanctuary conducive to effective relaxation and therapy that contributes a sense of well-being to this world.
As we arrive at our 30th anniversary in Freestone on November 11th, 2019, we celebrate how the “Osmosis Experience” has touched so many people. This experience, in its totality, resonates at a deep level with our guests and creates a feeling of being at home, comfortable and very well taken care of. The whole gestalt of Osmosis; the services, the place and the people are like a magic balm that soothes one’s soul. We now have a dedicated following that holds Osmosis with a sense of reverence and gratitude as well as a staff that is committed to creating a “zone of peace” while fulfilling their needs and expectations.
Enjoy riding and training on the infamous roads of Sonoma County? Are you a resident or a visitor hoping to get more out of your training and riding on our beautiful roads? Wishing you could recover quicker, more completely and get more from each workout? Try a visit to Osmosis, conveniently located in Freestone. With a bike-friendly environment and its unique offering of Cedar Enzyme Baths, Osmosis is an ideal training tool for any cyclist.
An Enzyme bath is an ideal means to totally relax and revive after a vigorous workout. This Japanese heat treatment is a biologically induced process that removes lactic acid from your muscles, reduces inflammation, and increases mobility. Former National and World Champion and Sonoma County resident Giana Roberge, AKA the Speed Queen, became a true believer following a grueling 30 European tour when she was totally resurrected after one Cedar Enzyme Bath treatment.
The Cedar Enzyme Bath was an amazing experience. It made me feel clean, energized, revitalized, more flexible and the muscle soreness that had plagued me for weeks was gone after one treatment. It became part of my training regime for my most stressful training blocks.
Choose one of our packages combining a Cedar Bath with a 75-minute massage from one of our gifted body workers and you have a post cycling experience designed to maximize your hard work by giving your body a complete and cleansing recovery. Fully restored, detoxed, and flexible means better blood flow in your muscles which will not only allow them to work harder but they will be less likely to incur injury. With flexible and clean muscles, fatigue will be less, power output will increase, and you will, literally, be able to pedal faster.
Our exceptional spa services and serene meditation garden add up to a fantastic enhancement to your Sonoma cycling experience. Osmosis is extending a special welcome mat to all cyclists. Ride in during the month of August 2018 and get a FREE Pagoda Upgrade!
The heat in the Enzyme Bath is produced biologically by the activity of microorganisms, which also produce their own electrochemical environment. When the largest organ of the body, the skin, comes in direct contact with this intense metabolic activity, the heat and energy benefit your body in many ways.
The benefits of the Cedar Enzyme Bath not only support but deepen the benefits of massage.
Heat treatment, such as the Cedar Enzyme Bath, is well known to benefit muscle soreness and pain in a variety of ways:
The blood vessels of the muscular system are dilated with heat therapy, which in turn, increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, helping to heal damaged tissue, such as muscle strains.
Heat stimulates the sensory receptors in the skin, which means the Cedar Enzyme Bath may aid in decreasing the transmissions of pain signals to the brain, thus relieving discomfort associated with muscle pain.
If you are sore after an increased workout, the heat combined with the metabolic activity of the enzymes will help to move lactic acid build up, which creates that sensation of muscle soreness, out of the tissues.
Heat will help soften the muscular tissue for your massage. This enables your massage therapist, working on stiff, tight or “knotted” areas to reach deeper layers of tissue enabling a deeper release of muscle tension.
Finally, because heat will decrease the transmission of pain signals to the brain, the Cedar Enzyme Bath can address the “hurt all over” pain or discomfort associated with fibromyalgia, the rheumatic diseases, drug side effects, vitamin D deficiency and sleep deprivation.
It is important to note that while heat therapy, such as the Cedar Enzyme Bath, can aid in the relief of many types of muscular soreness, pain or discomfort, there are certain types of pain for which heat is not suggested. Never apply heat to an infected area. Never apply heat to a fresh injury characterized by inflammation. Ice is soothing to inflamed tissue. Lastly, heat is contraindicated for the flare-up certain arthritic conditions.
Heat is primarily for relaxation, comfort, and reassurance, taking the edge of several kinds of body pain, mostly duller persistent pains associated with muscle stiffness, soreness due to lactic acid, or muscular cramping or spasm. Heat is reassuring and this reassurance, through applied neurology, is analgesic.
The next time you book a Cedar Enzyme Bath at Osmosis, try one of our packages that couples the bath with a massage, and find out for yourself how much the bath deepens and enhances the benefits of your massage. The combination of services in our package offerings is no accident. Osmosis offers the Cedar Enzyme Bath in a variety of spa packages combining the bath with a massage. These include the Rejuvenation Package, the Transformation package, the Specialty Package, Bath as Medicine, the Ultimate Experience and our couple’s package called the Warmth of Love.
Raizelah Bayen is the Spa Services Manager at Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary. She has 25 years in the field of massage, 15 years as a massage and yoga instructor, and is additionally certified in acupressure, herbology and aromatherapy. Her teaching specialties include Eastern Massage Modalities and Acupressure, Body Mechanics for Bodyworkers, and Integrative Wellness workshops, weaving herbs, aromatherapy, self-massage and yoga into a cohesive themed workshop, such as the one above. If you are interested in hosting a workshop, please contact Raizelah at email@example.com. For more information, connect with Raizelah Bayen on LinkedIn.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information on upcoming trainings in T’ui Na, Shiatsu, Thai Massage, Foot Reflexology, and Body Mechanics for Bodyworkers scheduled in Sebastopol, California. Or book Raizelah for an on-site training in your massage school or spa in T’ui Na, Shiatsu, Thai Massage, Foot Reflexology or Body Mechanics for Bodyworkers.
The rejuvenating alchemy of the Cedar Enzyme Bath has become legendary for good reason. The warm and fragrant treatment offers myriad health benefits.
This unique therapeutic body treatment from Japan is found nowhere else on this continent. It is a bathing ritual that involves immersing your entire body in a mixture of soft and fragrant ground cedar and rice bran with living enzymes.
The Cedar Enzyme Bath is four treatments in one:
1. Enzyme Herbal Tonic Benefits
The Cedar Enzyme Bath treatment begins with a hot enzyme tonic beverage. A highly active digestive enzyme product from Japan is mixed with an herbal tea blend comprised of nettle, peppermint, yarrow and red clover. The enzyme tonic isdesigned to work synergistically with the enzyme bath. Its purpose is to launch the process of invigoration by boosting your metabolism internally; this is further promoted externally by the enzyme bath itself.
2. Aromatherapy Benefits
Cedar has been used across centuries by diverse cultures—from Tibetans to Egyptians to Native Americans—for its cleansing and purifying properties.
Cedar oil vapors are released from the fragrant wood in the enzyme bath, and they flow into your body through your pores, which are dilated by the heat. It is like receiving a full-body cedar compress. Research on cedar has shown that it has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties, all effective for cleansing and toning your tissues. Cedar oil also stimulates the brain’s limbic system, enhancing feelings of joy and satisfaction. It is known to be a sedative because its scent induces the release of serotonin, which can promote tranquility and encourage improved sleep.
3. Heat Therapy Benefits
Heat from the bath improves circulation as it dilates your blood vessels and augments blood flow into even the smallest capillaries, permeating the cellular environment and delivering the healing properties of blood.
Heat treatments calm muscle spasms, increase range of motion and relax muscle tension, which in turn relieves pressure on nerves inside the muscles.
The enzyme bath influences your metabolism by affecting enzymatic activity throughout the body. Enzymes are a special class of proteins that serve as catalysts for biochemical reactions. There are over 3,000 different enzymes in every cell of living tissue. Even just a small increase in available enzymes can make enormous changes in an organism.
The action of the enzyme bath strengthens physiological processes that are constantly being performed by the internal organs to produce both heat and enzyme activity inside the body. When your body is immersed in this bioactive medium, your metabolism is stimulated from the outside, supporting the internal organs that usually perform these functions on their own. This is one reason the bath is both relaxing and energizing at the same time!
The heat in the enzyme bath is produced biologically by the activity of microorganisms, which also produce their own electro-chemical environment. When the largest organ of the body, the skin, comes in direct contact with this intense metabolic activity, the heat and energy benefit your body in many ways.
In a biological process similar to fermentation, the enzyme bath helps break down metabolic waste in the subcutaneous layer of your skin. It also improves digestion and organ cleansing, breaks down lactic acid in sore muscles, and reduces inflammatory fluid build-up, which can provide relief from pain including arthritis and rheumatism.
An added benefit of the bath is that the enzymes decompose dead skin cells, resulting in full body exfoliation and lustrous skin as your epidermis, your pores, and even the cells themselves are thoroughly cleansed.
Bathers feel significantly revitalized, with skin that is soft, velvety and glowing with warmth. People report a sensation of profound relaxation and rejuvenation. It is especially soothing for the digestive and nervous systems, excellent for detoxification, and highly beneficial for pain and fatigue.
This treatment is not recommended for pregnant women, for individuals with high blood pressure, known infections or uncontrolled diabetes, or for those who have recently consumed alcoholic beverages.
It is recommended for people seeking a powerful energetic shift, detoxification (it’s a great way to end a fast), relief from anxiety, stress, or soreness, or just a way back to feeling fantastic and fully alive!