In these times of human distancing it’s such relief to walk in nature or in a garden; to walk amongst trees with no apprehension. Feeling safe and offering no threat. Recently the thought occurred that as the human realm is swept with an invisible danger, the trees are impervious, not knowing of our dilemma, physical and psychic. (Or are they? That is a question for another time). But there is a strong sense of the shield between us and them; a boundary not to be crossed.
Then I remembered some years back when an epidemic of phytophthera invaded native trees. We called this root fungus Sudden Oak Death. Another unseen attack, but this time humans were immune, though not unaffected. Our trees were dying and scientists, arborists and foresters all scrambled to limit the damage.
The first important form of mitigation turned out to be distancing. Parks and trails were closed. Workers were advised to wrap their boots so as not to track the fungus to new areas. This rallying to trees’ defenses shines a light on the mutuality of life. And in these times of human isolation plants offer to us their own kind of solace.
Spring still drives the flower through the branch reminding us of perseverance and renewal. Floral fragrance and color stimulate insects and birds to action. While we may sit inert, separated from routine, we see that the work of the world goes on and we may in turn take action. Planting trees and flowers for a future we know will come though changed it will be.
Here at the Osmosis garden we’ve slipped into this hiatus – a chance to renovate our welcome garden. New additions of lavender, sun rose and germander complement last year’s make-over of an adjacent area where we added a prodigious Japanese lantern accompanied by flowering currant and hellebores. And as we work we see peaking around the corner the flowering crabapple, here since before the beginning, reminding us that along with the future is the past giving context to the present in time of trial.
Do you really need a reason to start scheduling your next girls’ getaway? If you don’t and are already keen on finding any opportunity to book time with your gal pals, then that’s phenomenal. But if you really do need some good inspiration on why Osmosis is your next destination for your pending girls’ getaway, then you’ve arrived.
Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary is located in the historic town of Freestone, nestled between river and coast, redwoods and vineyards, at the Gateway to Sonoma Wine Country. Just an hour’s drive from San Francisco, hub of gorgeous bay views, top-rated cuisine, and a booming tech economy.
We certainly cannot think of a better girls’ vacation than here!
Whether a Bay Area native or traveling into town from a further destination, we’ve got a lineup for you and your girls that will leave nothing to be desired.
Ready to unwind and spa in a Zen setting that will leave both your spirit and skin nourished and renewed? Check. Looking to experience nature in its full glory? Check. Craving to wine and dine in legendary destinations for innovative eats? Then, look no further. We’ve got the full roundup for your girls’ getaway right here.
At the heart of travel is the journey of the destination, which is where we’ll start. No matter where you’re coming from, near or far, once you arrive in the area, you’ll spot the not-to-be-missed coastline features, breathtaking views, and ventures. Delight in a truly charismatic region and rare gem-of-a-community with stunning beaches, cliff-side hiking, lush forests, and trails meant for biking and exploring.
Entrust your getaway to the Sonoma Coast via Bodega Bay or take the 10-mile, scenic roadway along Bohemian Highway, where you will find a trio of townships—Freestone, Occidental, and Monte Rio—with small-town charm that cannot be found anywhere else. Or if coming from out of town, Sonoma County (STS) Airport, in Santa Rosa, CA, will land you in the middle of pastoral tranquility. Freestone is home to Osmosis and is particularly special because it is Sonoma County’s first historic district. In this small, yet formidable community, you will find Osmosis, the highlight of your girls’ getaway.
With deep reverence for sharing and providing sacred Japanese healing rituals, Osmosis is one-of-a-kind in offering our signature spa treatment, the Cedar Enzyme Bath, and remains the one and only day spa in the US to offer this authentic, therapeutic service.
Both warm and fragrant, this particular treatment boasts a myriad of health benefits including a more balanced central nervous system, joint and muscle pain relief, and skin exfoliation. This is truly a must-do when you’re here. Cozy up for an informal tea ceremony before your session and meditation in the gardens following your 75-minute facial or massage. Then, visit our gift shop for organic skincare products and other totally unique treasures found in the boutique.
From spa onward, get ready to celebrate and support artisan food culture in what is being called the New Province among Sonoma County’s distinct and beloved small towns. Then, you and your girls can extend your relaxation from a day of therapeutic spa treatments into the night by experiencing local restaurants and wineries. You’ll immediately become a regular to some of the most innovative and diverse wining and dining scenes that California is well-known for.
This getaway is one we certainly believe you and crew will be satisfied with. It will allow you to unplug and immerse yourself into an area that is so connected to life and nature’s elements, which will beautifully surround you and your favorite girls. And, not to mention, superb Insta-worthy photos to swoon over again and again. Unapologetically cue the skyline photos, spa session, and foodie snaps for others to see and experience, too. Then, be prepared to gab about a getaway to remember for years to come.
Despite whether you end or begin your girls’ getaway with Osmosis, it’s the perfect kickstart to deeply enrich the moment for everyone involved. Experience the tremendously satisfying peace and tranquility that going inward, while being together with friends, can bring; it’s a collective moment to mindfully relish and cherish. And, hopefully, a moment you and your chosen gal pals, will agree to continue and make a tradition of.
Osmosis is here to provide a healing environment in resonance with nature that promotes clarity and connection. So, come ready for an experience of ultimate relaxation and renewal—both equal parts unforgettable and enchanting.
In our busy lives it can be hard to find time to connect with our partner in ways that strengthen our relationship and create more intimacy. Giving your partner a simple at-home massage can be a great way to boost intimacy and help your partner feel nurtured. You don’t need to be a professional; all you need is some great massage oil (we recommend Kate’s Magik Aphrodisian Fire Body Oil), relaxing music, a bed, and your own two hands. With Valentine’s season upon us, it’s a great time to light some candles, turn up the heater, and pamper your partner using these easy to follow steps for a simple whole body massage. No experience necessary!
About Kate’s Magik Aphrodisian Fire Body Oil: Alluring and sensual, aphrodisian fire enhances romance and excites the senses. Evoking Aphrodite, this exotic blend highlights wood and flower notes. Sandalwood and patchouli are deep and sensual, while sultry rose and flowery ylang ylang instill a sense of passion and romance.
Prepare your massage space
Cover your bed with an old towel or blanket that you don’t mind getting oily. Have one or two pillows on hand to make your partner more comfortable. If you’d like warm oil, you can fill a large bowl with hot water and place the oil bottle in it. Have an extra towel on hand to clean up any messes.
Your partner may be more comfortable lying face down with a pillow under their chest, then they can turn their head to one side. Have your partner put their arms along their side, with palms up.
When your partner turns face up, they may want a pillow under their knees or head.
Use your whole hand while massaging, palm and underside of fingers will be touching your partner’s skin.
Keep your back straight while massaging and use the weight of your body to put pressure, rather than just your hands.
Before you start, place your hands on your partner’s back, and take several deep breaths together. Set an intention to be the giver, and honor the gift you are about to give your partner.
Massaging in the Back
Sit at your partner’s head, preferably in a kneeling position. Sit on a pillow for extra knee support. Rub a few squirts of oil between your hands. Place your hands, palm down, at the base of your partner’s neck, with the spine between your thumbs.
Glide your hands down your partner’s back, staying next to the spine. At the top of the buttocks, glide your hands out to the top of your partner’s hips, then slide your hands up their sides and onto their shoulder blades.
Make several circles with your whole palms over the shoulder blades.
Starting with hands-on their shoulder blades, glide your hands down their back with your hands moving toward each other so they come together over the top of your partner’s buttocks. Again, glide over the top of their hips, then slide your hands back together over their low back.
Slide your hands up their back with the spine between your thumb edges.
At the top of the shoulders, slide your hands out over the tops of their shoulders and then slide them back together to the base of your partner’s neck. Repeat 3 – 5 times.
Starting at the base of the neck, slide your palms out over the tops of your partner’s shoulders. Slide onto their very upper arm and then slide each palm all the way down their arms, onto their hands and then slide off their hands with your fingers going between theirs.
Repeat these strokes 3 – 5 times, varying direction and combining them as you like. Use more oil as needed.
Massaging Back of Legs
Sit at the outside edge of your partner’s lower leg. Rub some oil into your hands. Start with your hands, palm down, on either side of your partner’s ankle.
Glide your hands up the sides of your partner’s leg, all the way to their hip and inner thigh. Bring your hands together at the top of the thigh and slide your hands all the way down to their heel. Repeat 3 – 5 times, applying more oil as needed.
Now slide your way up the back of your partner’s leg making circles with each palm in an alternating pattern. (right-hand circles over middle and side of leg, left hand circles over the middle leg and inner calf/thigh, move up a few inches and repeat). Go back down the leg with the same pattern, alternating the direction of your circles.
Repeat on the second leg.
Massaging Neck and Arms
Turn your partner face up and sit above their head. Rub some oil on your hands. Place your palms at the base of your partner’s neck, with fingers facing your partner’s upper back and palms against the base of the neck where it meets the shoulders. Glide your hands out to the tops of your partner’s arms, then glide down over the outside of their arms down to the elbow. Slide your hands under their arms and then glide back up under their arms, under their upper back and up to the base of their skull. Repeat 3 – 5 times.
With your fingertips at the base of the skull, on either side of the spine, make small circles, letting the fingers move the muscles slightly. Check-in with your partner about pressure, the more you press your fingers up, the more pressure they will feel. Continue making small circles on the neck muscles, moving downward toward the upper back.
Slide your hands under your partner’s upper back, with your fingers on the muscles between the shoulder blades and spine. Glide your hands up to the base of the skull. Repeat 3 times.
Sit at your partner’s side near their hand. With oil on your hands, place one hand on your partner’s wrist. Slide that hand up their arm to the shoulder, followed immediately by your second hand. Slide one hand under their shoulder and keep the other hand over the front of the upper arm. Slide both hands down the arm to the hand while squeezing your hands slightly to create pressure. Repeat 3 – 5 times.
Repeat on the second arm.
Massaging Legs and Feet
Sit at your partner’s side near their ankle. With oil on your hands, place your palms and fingers on either side of your partner’s ankle. Slide your hands up the sides of their leg to the upper thigh/outer hip.
Bring your thumb edges together at the middle of the upper thigh, with your palms and other fingers resting on the sides of the upper thigh. Slide your hands away from each other toward the sides of the leg. Move your hands down a few inches and slide your hands away from each other again. Continue this down the leg to the ankle, watching out not to press on the knee bone or the shin bone.
Repeat these two steps 3 – 5 times, using more oil as needed.
Place hands on foot, with one palm on top of the foot and other on the bottom. Slide your hands up and down your partner’s foot, from toes to heel/ankle, pressing your hands toward each other. Repeat several times.
Using fingers, make circles around the ankle bones. Rub your palm in a circular motion over the front of the ankle. Finish by rubbing your palm in a circular motion over the bottom of the foot, from toes to heel and back again. Use a loose fist to make circles if your partner wants more pressure.
Repeat on the second leg and foot.
When you’ve finished massaging your partner, place your palms on the bottom of their feet and take several deep breaths together. Take some time to snuggle up with your partner and let them give you some appreciation, in whatever form it comes. Enjoy the time you’ve spent together, even if you stumbled through, and know that moments like these are precious. And make sure to find a time when your partner can take a turn as the giver too!
Heather Bishop is the Massage Therapy Supervisor at Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary. She has been practicing massage and bodywork for over 17 years and performs a wide variety of modalities, specializing in deep tissue and east-west fusion massage. In addition to massage, Heather is also a Registered Yoga Teacher of 15 years and teaches at Soulstice in Santa Rosa. She loves having daily opportunities to help others and is a proud member of the Osmosis team.
Facial gua sha is a form of gentle massage, using a smooth object or stone. It was adapted from the traditional body gua sha massage technique used in Chinese Medicine.
While gua sha bodywork involves vigorous and deeper pressure that’s meant to increase blood flow and Chi to areas of the body in need of healing, facial gua sha uses a gentle but firm, slow pulling of the skin. This benefits the skin by moving lymph and increasing blood flow and blood volume. By manipulating subdermal fascia, it activates and promotes tissue healing. This helps to not only promote overall wellness by detoxifying, boosting the immune system and calming the nervous system, it also greatly improves the complexion! It can help clear the pores, firm and tone the skin, soften lines, lighten hyperpigmentation, and give the skin a radiant glow. With the face carrying over a third of the body’s lymphatic system, facial gua sha can be an incredibly effective tool to promote both overall well being and skin health. Some results are seen immediately while others develop over time with consistent gua sha practice.
The Numerous Benefits of Gua Sha
Stimulate the lymphatic and circulatory systems and boost the immune system – Practicing gua sha regularly helps to move and renew fluids including blood and lymph. This improves circulation and clears stagnation. In Chinese Medicine, stagnation of lymph and blood flow or Chi can be the root of illness. It can also be the root of many skin conditions and signs of aging. The lymphatic system plays an important role in our immune function. It helps the body rid itself of toxins and moves white blood cells to where they are needed for fighting infection.
Calm the nervous system – This gentle massage technique is exceptionally calming and soothing for our nervous system. When we are in a relaxed state, our immune function works more optimally and the body can naturally heal.
Promote collagen production – Stimulating the lymphatic and circulatory systems through facial gua sha can help increase collagen production. This increased collagen helps to fill in wrinkles and plump the skin.
Smooth fine lines and wrinkles – We often hold emotion and tension in our face. This can lead to tissue adhesions and cause lines and wrinkles. When we relax the face through gua sha massage and release tension and tissue adhesions, we can smooth out these lines and release the emotions and tension behind them. The stimulation of the circulatory systems increases blood flow and blood volume and opens up channels for chi flow which also aids in plumping fine lines and wrinkles.
Lift and firm – This massage technique manipulates the fascia, muscles, and layers underneath the dermis which helps to contour and lift the skin.
Reduce puffiness and enhance eye area – Puffiness is usually caused by fluid accumulation due to toxins, or excess salt in the body. Gua sha can help move and drain this excess fluid and help to move toxins out of the body. It is particularly helpful in depuffing the eye area. It can lift hooded lids so the eyes can open wider. Additionally, it helps release tension between the brows softening of any furrows.
Lighten hyperpigmentation – By stimulating blood and lymph circulation, we are aiding the body to repair micro-wounds, scarring and hyperpigmentation
Make skin glow – Moving the lymph and blood detoxifies and brings nutrients and oxygen to the skin, giving it a healthy natural glow and awakening dull skin.
Facial gua sha massage has countless benefits and is a beautiful and nurturing ritual for self-care.
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.
Our spa is now CLOSED. We will be sending out an announcement to our email list when it is appropriate to reopen again. We look forward to serving you as soon as possible. In the meantime, your support through GIFT CERTIFICATES and/or online RETAIL STORE is greatly appreciated during these unprecedented times.