How Osmosis Day Spa’s Authentic Approach to Rejuvenation Helps Guests Find Vitality Through a Connection to Nature & Community

Originally Published: 3.28.18 • LEISURE & TRAVEL

By: Jessica Sommerfield

The Crunch: The spa industry has grown as consumers become more focused on natural health and wellness. But, by marketing themselves as places for pampering and emphasizing beauty over wellness, many spas have strayed from their original purpose. Osmosis Day Spa offers guests an authentic experience that incorporates the meditation-inspiring traditions of Japanese gardening with the health benefits of the cedar enzyme bath to deliver total rejuvenation. Through its community involvement and sustainability efforts, Osmosis Day Spa strives to educate and restore the connection between personal and environmental wellness.

Spas are known as places for relaxation and escape from the stresses of modern life, practices that have become scarce in both consumer and corporate culture.

Over the last several years, Americans have become more conscientious about taking better care of their bodies through natural foods and products, exercise, and holistic health care. And the day spa industry has grown in response. In 2017, Americans made 184 million visits to spas — up from 176 million the previous year.

But, as spa businesses seek to attract more clients with an array of youth-preserving and beautification services, the predominant marketing message consumers hear is that spas are more about vanity and luxury than a quest for fundamental vitality.

Michael Stusser, Founder of Osmosis Day Spa

Michael Stusser founded Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary to create a place of nurturing services in resonance with nature.

Michael Stusser, Founder of the Osmosis Day Spa, believes that catering to a sense of vanity rather than a desire for well-being misconstrues the purpose of spas and fails to meet the true needs of their clientele.

“When you talk about what represents authenticity, one of the biggest disservices to our industry is the use of the word ‘pampering’ in advertising. It’s a term that doesn’t capture the sincerity and quality of the work that many people are committed to doing with massage,” Michael said. “We have a responsibility to step up and provide something much more substantial — and people want it.”

Located in the tranquil, historic town of Freestone, California, Osmosis Day Spa weaves together Michael’s studies in Zen gardening and traditional therapies to offer the wholly rejuvenating experience spa guests are looking for.

“What we’re about is the sincere act of giving from the heart — something that’s deep, profound, and makes a difference in people’s lives,” Michael said.

From its carefully landscaped gardens to the healing properties of its cedar enzyme baths to its gifted, dedicated staff to its sustainability efforts and community involvement, Osmosis Day Spa helps guests recenter and revitalize through simplicity and serenity.

Bringing the Healing Power of Nature and Japanese Culture to the US

During Michael’s time at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in the 1960s, he developed an interest in environmentalism and sustainable gardening. His later involvement in the horticultural community of Northern California laid the groundwork for an understanding of the role of nature in fostering wellness and vitality.

“I began to recognize that gardens were about more than soil-building, food, and diet leading to a healthy lifestyle. Gardens put people in connection with the rhythms of nature, and that has a healing property to it,” Michael said.

Another quality Michael recognized in gardens is their ability to feed the eyes — and the soul — with natural beauty. “Garden art lifts people’s eyes to the horizon, creating a sense of connection to distance and time, and a perspective of longevity, which is an aspect of what draws people to spas. Being attuned to nature brings vitality, a core component of wellness,” Michael said.

The lessons Michael learned from gardening played a significant role in the development of Osmosis Day Spa, and remain an important part of its core values.

In the early 1980s, Michael traveled to Japan, where he apprenticed in traditional Japanese gardening and became immersed in its history and its ties to Zen meditation. He also spent time in a Buddhist monastery, where he discovered the benefits of the cedar enzyme bath.

Michael returned to the US with a desire to share this knowledge with others, and he chose his former home of Freestone, California — a historic rural community with a rich artisan culture that sees thousands of tourists every year — to be the home of Osmosis Day Spa.

“When I thought about where I wanted to bring it, it seemed natural to come back here. It’s removed from the hustle and bustle, and the natural beauty is exquisite,” Michael said. “Quietude is an important element in the healing process.”

Since founding Osmosis Day Spa in 1985, Michael has seen massage and other spa therapies develop into professional art forms with growing receptivity and popularity, and his business has flourished along with the industry as a whole.

“People realize how important touch is to healing, stress reduction, and overall well-being,” Michael said.

Providing Guests with the Benefits of the Cedar Enzyme Bath & a Unified Spa Experience

Osmosis Day Spa’s menu of services includes massage, facials, and spa packages that combine garden views and tea service with aromatherapy and essential oil treatments. But the spa’s signature treatment is the cedar enzyme bath — for which Osmosis remains the exclusive North American destination.

The enzyme bath’s modern form dates to the 1940s — and it was popularized by Olympic athletes in 1972 — but it originates out of the centuries-old Japanese tradition of harvesting fruits, vegetables, and herbs in their prime and turning them into healing salves and tonics.

“When I first experienced the enzyme bath, I was healed from serious sciatica and felt my whole body transformed in a significant way,” Michael said. “It’s a very powerful cleansing and detoxification process.”

The bath combines three treatments into a singular experience: heat therapy, aromatherapy, and biologically active enzymes.

Michael had long been a fan of natural hot springs, and this heightened his appreciation for the therapeutic effects of heat — which include softening body tissue, dilating the cardiovascular system, opening pores, and inducing total-body relaxation.

But the cedar enzyme treatment doesn’t involve a tub of water. Instead, the medium is a powdery red substance comprised of ground-up evergreens.

“It’s fragrant with oils from the most aromatic cedar in the world, along with the other wood species we use,” Michael said. “Research on essential oils has shown cedar to be one of the most efficacious in aromatherapy, with benefits such as deep relaxation. When you lay in a cedar enzyme bath, your entire body receives these vapors released in the steam of the fermentation process.”

The cedar enzyme bath provides a warm, familiar, rejuvenating experience for Osmosis Day Spa guests.

When guests enter the cedar enzyme bath, they find it familiar — yet hard to describe. “They say, ‘Oh, this is what it is.’ There’s something fundamentally familiar to it,” Michael said.

The cedar enzyme bath experience encourages whole-body relaxation and heightened awareness of one’s self and surroundings, and Osmosis Day Spa strives to evoke this response during the entirety of a guest’s stay.

“Our entire facility — the way we hire and train our staff, the way the parking lot is laid out, the way the walkways lead to the building, the way the gardens are built — is intended to bring people to that point from the minute they drive up,” Michael said.

Osmosis Day Spa’s five acres of Zen gardens — including the meditation garden by premier designer Robert Ketchell, the British horticulturist who interned with Michael in Kyoto, inspire communion with nature. The spa also features a Japanese tea garden, secluded pagodas, a Field of Hammocks, and intimate outdoor meeting spaces.

“The gardens have been designed to create a connection to a place that has a sense of unity and cohesion,” Michael said. “Our meditation garden is a huge conductor of quietude and tranquility that people are especially receptive to after they’ve had a spa treatment.”

Connecting to the Community to Foster Environmental Awareness

Connection is a core value of Osmosis Day Spa, and this inspires its involvement in the community of Freestone and beyond.

Osmosis Day Spa partners with local businesses to provide guests with access to lodging for overnight stays, restaurants, and area tourist activities. It also directly supports many community organizations and projects — especially those that teach the value of healthy living and environmental stewardship.

“Being a part of the community is an important aspect of our work and our story,” Michael said. “We’ve collaborated with our neighbors to improve the water system in our town, and we’ve also worked with some nonprofits to support them and create awareness.”

One of the ongoing projects Osmosis Day Spa supports is the Ceres Community Project, in which nutritionists and chefs teach teens about nutrition, cooking, and local sourcing. The food they make is distributed to families suffering life-threatening illnesses. Osmosis supports Ceres by donating the profits from the box lunches it offers to guests.

“A local farm-to-table restaurant provides the lunch at cost, and the markup is given to the Ceres Community Project,” Michael said.

Ten years, ago, Michael also played a key role in starting the Green Spa Network — a collection of businesses from around the US that work together to help the spa industry set an eco-friendly example.

“We’re trying to function as a nexus in our community to inform, educate, and provide experiences that will help awaken them to what it means to live a vital, earth-friendly lifestyle,” Michael said.

Creating an Experience that Awakens People to Care About Themselves & Their Surroundings

In an industry that often markets to consumers’ obsession with aesthetic beauty and youthfulness, Osmosis Day Spa stands out for its authentic approach and a focus on total-body wellness that awakens not only self-awareness but also consciousness of one’s world.

Spas are places where people make themselves vulnerable, and Michael believes the industry is in a position to have more than a superficial impact on people’s health and lifestyles.

“People are coming to spas looking to transcend a lifestyle that’s not sustainable and to align with something more substantial than these paradigms of excessive consumerism,” Michael said. “They’re opening themselves up and trusting they’ll be gifted something of tremendous value. There’s so much opportunity, given what we could be doing as an industry, to help influence the direction of our culture.”

Osmosis Day Spa provides a place where people can relax and rejuvenate, learn how to take care of themselves, and reconnect to the most important things in life.

“We’re more than just a day spa selling a menu of services — we’re recognized as a source for valuable information and guidance on how to improve the potential of one’s life,” Michael said. “We’re making that connection between vital people and vital planet. They go hand in hand.”

Jessica Sommerfield is a contributing writer for DealCrunch with over seven years of experience with online publications in the personal finance sector and other consumer-focused niches. Her 13 years of experience in brick-and-mortar stores prior to her writing career have also given her an insider’s perspective on the unique challenges that the retail industry faces.

Travel + Leisure Visits Osmosis And Tries The Cedar Enzyme Bath!

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!

Spark The New Season With Our Legendary Cedar Enzyme Bath!

We have arrived into a new month and season, and the rejuvenating alchemy of the Cedar Enzyme Bath is the most unique therapeutic body treatment you didn’t know you needed – until now. Recommit yourself to continued wellness through the agency of holistic care. Found nowhere else on this continent, our Cedar Enzyme Bath is a Japanese bathing ritual where the body is immersed in a mixture of soft, fragrant ground cedar and rice bran, complete with living enzymes.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

Beginning with a hot enzyme tonic beverage designed to work synergistically with the Enzyme Bath, enjoy an invigorating boost to your metabolism and a dynamic body therapy experience. This full-body cedar compress stimulates the brain’s limbic system, cleanses and tones muscular tissues, and improves the central nervous system. Bathers conclude this treatment feeling significantly rejuvenated and deeply relaxed. Soothe your body, detoxify, and relieve body pain and fatigue. The Cedar Enzyme Bath is recommended for people seeking a powerful energetic shift; release from anxiety and stress; physical comfort from soreness and tension; and overall revitalization in mind, body, and spirit.

WHEN CAN I RESERVE MY ENZYME BATH?

Cool, wet weather make this an especially good time of year to cozy up in the Cedar Enzyme Bath. Currently reservations during the week are possible on shorter notice. Consider a mid-week refresh by jumping into a warm and wonderful enzyme tub at Osmosis. Weekend appointments are more limited.

GIFT A TREATMENT FOR YOURSELF OR OTHERS

Experience the ultimate benefits of this treatment by gifting yourself a future visit or sending a digital gift card to a special someone. Deepen and intensify your wellness for the newly-arrived season and beyond.

 

Book Your Cedar Bath

 

We’re Falling For The New Abundant Harvest Facial At Osmosis!

Fall has arrived and we’re celebrating with new exclusive facials utilizing organic skincare essentials from two incredible eco-conscious brands.

Meet our Abundant Harvest Facial, which uses organic plants harvested at the peak of health and abundance from Laurel’s pure plant-based products. Encounter a healing journey designed specifically for your skin needs, featuring potent, nutrient-dense treatment masks with comforting, warm tea compresses. The synergy of ingredients provides a wide array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants immediately bioavailable for skin repair. These powerful plant applications are followed with a comprehensive lymphatic facial massage to support your skin’s healing ability. Be prepared for benefits that penetrate from the inside out, giving you a vibrant glow.

Another of our welcomed new treatments this season includes our Men’s Facial. This is a professional botanical treatment from our French line, Phyt’s, and is designed especially for male skin concerns. Phyt’s oxygenating and detoxifying facial is suitable for all skin types and will leave your skin feeling refreshed, purified, and revitalized. As with all of our facials, it includes a neck and shoulder massage, as well as a warm foot wrap.

Take good care this fall. Book now to experience our new facials in a zen setting, filled with peaceful comforts and deep rejuvenation.

Book Our New Facials

Massage Benefits In The Time Of COVID

By Heather Bishop

What a time we have endured! A global pandemic that has affected our lives, and our culture, in irreversible ways.

Extreme political division and civil unrest, repeated shutdowns of all non-essential services, and a life suddenly lived over zoom, email, and working from home–if you’re lucky enough to be working at all. Every day we are being asked to bear these burdens and more, which wear on our emotional and psychological resilience. At some point, I am sure almost every single one of us has had a moment of wanting to give up, or a moment of stress levels that feel completely unmanageable. Some words I’ve heard from friends to describe emotions experienced during these moments are: frustrated, worried, isolated, tired, and sad.

How much would you love to know there was something you could do that would lower your stress to pre-COVID levels, relax your muscles, soothe your tensions and boost your immune system? And as an extra bonus, it could also fulfill that deep human need for touch and connection, and provide an opportunity for your body to enter a state of deep relaxation and renewal. What if your doctor, naturopath, chiropractor or acupuncturist could prescribe this treatment for you, as part of your routine preventative health care?

Therapeutic massage can offer relief from a long list of medical symptoms and conditions, as well as provide an essential immune system boost, lowering of stress level, and reset for the nervous system. When massage is provided upon receipt of a doctor’s referral, it is an essential service and can become an integral part of your preventative health care practices, even during this time of COVID shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders.

But is it safe to receive massage right now, when COVID case numbers are rising and ICU beds are full? Unfortunately, nothing short of total isolation in our homes is safe right now; we assume COVID exposure risks every day. However, with that in mind, consider this question – would you visit your doctor right now, if you had a need to see them for an important health concern? What if you knew that visit to your doctor would be a pleasant and effective medicine, and that you would come out feeling relaxed, renewed, and realigned?

It is a time for us to think about risks and priorities. Staying safe and minimizing situations where we could be exposed to COVID is important and a top priority for everyone. However, rising stress or anxiety levels, coupled with social isolation and cabin fever, leaves the body depleted. Stress hormones compromise the immune system, making us more susceptible to any infection. Depression or anxiety further decrease our immunity and can leave us struggling to make it through each day. All of these symptoms are dangerous to our health and enjoyment of life. So I ask you to consider this – would boosting your immunity and mood be a priority to you as well? If you could get a massage in a setting where all COVID guidelines were followed: surfaces sanitized, masks worn, temperatures taken, thorough hand washing before and after your massage, plus two systems of air purification designed to block an airborne virus–it might be worth the very low exposure risk to give your body the boost it needs to keep going, with a renewal of strength and function.

Osmosis values the safety of clients and staff as the highest priority, and we follow all COVID guidelines set forth by the state and county. We also believe that massage IS an essential service, in this time of COVID, and we would love to share this gift with you.

All you have to do is reach out to your trusted doctor (this can include naturopath, chiropractor or acupuncturist, as well as MDs) and let them know you are ready to include massage in your preventative health care practices. Want to know more about how massage can benefit you? See the 25 reasons to get a massage below, have a look around on our website and check out our many massage blogs, or call our Guest Services department. We look forward to hearing from you!

25 Reasons to Get a Massage

  1. Relieve stress
  2. Relieve postoperative pain
  3. Reduce anxiety
  4. Manage low-back pain
  5. Help fibromyalgia pain
  6. Reduce muscle tension
  7. Enhance exercise performance
  8. Relieve tension headaches
  9. Sleep better
  10. Ease symptoms of depression
  11. Improve cardiovascular health
  12. Reduce pain of osteoarthritis
  13. Decrease stress in cancer patients
  14. Improve balance in older adults
  15. Decrease rheumatoid arthritis pain
  16. Temper effects of dementia
  17. Promote relaxation
  18. Lower blood pressure
  19. Decrease symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  20. Help chronic neck pain
  21. Lower joint replacement pain
  22. Increase range of motion
  23. Decrease migraine frequency
  24. Improve quality of life in hospice care
  25. Reduce chemotherapy-related nausea

Click here to learn more on how to be referred from a medical professional for your next massage at Osmosis.

 

Masks at Osmosis are not required but recommended indoors. All indoor air is treated with 4 stage HEPA filters and an advanced all-building air sanitation. We are enjoying beautiful spring weather here in Freestone.