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When most New Yorkers think about a relaxing visit to a spa, they think Manhattan: the Upper East Side, Soho, Midtown. But one of the things I’ve noticed about going to spas in Manhattan is that as quiet and peaceful as they may be on the inside, you’re thrust back out into the noise and crowds the minute you finish and step outside again. If you feel the same way, it may be worth your while to travel just slightly off the beaten path to visit Rejuvenate Face and Body in Astoria, Queens.
Located about 25 minutes outside of midtown, Rejuvenate is owned by aesthetician and skincare specialist Evelyn Gatzonis. A petite woman with beautiful skin herself, Evelyn first became interested in a holistic approach to skincare when she experienced severe acne from her early to late twenties, and went on a quest to rid herself of it. She ended up meeting and working with a holistic skincare expert who, in addition to administering acne peels, was able to tell her what was going wrong nutritionally that was causing her outbreaks. A light bulb went off for Evelyn, who up to that time had been working in retail. “I thought, wow, what a terrific way to live – doing something that helps people and really enjoying it.”
After getting her aesthetician’s license, Evelyn went on to work in some of the larger spas, including Equinox, but found it less than satisfying, as the time constraints of the big spas prevented her from giving clients a thorough analysis of their skin issues. So in 2004, she opened Rejuvenate Face and Body, an eco-friendly holistic spa a short walk from the Astoria Boulevard subway stop on the N/Q subway line. At the time, spas weren’t really focusing on being “green,” but she decided that this was the way for her to go as it was best in keeping with her ideals of how to treat skin issues: simply and nutritionally.
To that end, Evelyn imports the Trilogy line of products from New Zealand, since that country tends to have one of the best records when it comes to exporting products grown and produced in pristine environmental conditions. She also believes in addressing nutritional and lifestyle issues when working with a client’s skin, since what occurs on the surface is generally symptomatic of something amiss deeper down. “If something’s good for your digestive system, it’s generally very good for the skin as well, and vice versa.”
My own session with Evelyn began with her asking me if I had any particular skincare issues I wished to address. I explained that while my skin is basically good, I had been having some hyper-pigmentation issues lately. After carefully looking over my face, she thought that a salicylic acid peel was probably the best way to go, but since my last experience having a facial had not been a pleasant one, she suggested the gentler but also effective Vitamin C peel. Having overheard me empathize with her receptionist about allergies, Evelyn also offered to perform lymphatic drainage, where toxins are flushed and sinuses are helped to drain through the massaging of the lymph nodes. The combination of the two treatments, performed in a comfortable, quiet room and not at all rushed, (she explained what the purpose of each oil and mask applied) left me with glowing skin and the ability to finally breathe through my nose with no problems.
While Trilogy is the main product line that Evelyn carries, she also carries less expensive, but equally eco-friendly lines which, through a happy coincidence, happen to be owned by women business owners as well (it’s not her priority, but being a female business owner, she does like being able to support them). Other lines include bettijo scents, Marianella soaps, Coola skincare products, Melange, Nature’s Apothecary and Afterglow mineral make-up. In addition to a wide variety of facials and peels (including the most popular, the acne peel), Rejuvenate offers massages, reflexology, microdermabrasion (another highly popular service), body wraps , waxing and cellulite reduction treatment. When I stepped out of Rejuvenate, not only did I feel calm, relaxed, well-rested with glowing skin, I got to retain that feeling as I walked back down that quiet block of Astoria to the subway.
By Mrinalini Kamath
It sounded like a spiritual adventure when my parents first mentioned the idea. During their annual trip to India, we would spend a week in the Himalayan mountains, starting off at the city of Rishikesh then visiting the mountain villages Kedarnath and Badrinath and stopping at Haridwar before going back to Rishikesh. Some of the holiest sights of the Hindu religion, all in one week. The most exciting part (to me) was the idea of climbing up an 11,000 foot high mountain to Kedarnath.
My parents were determined to make it to Kedarnath this year, “while we can still walk,” my father had said. The temples at Kedarnath and Badrinath are considered two of the holiest in the Hindu tradition, and my parents had been wanting to go for years. As soon as my mother booked our plane tickets, she started taking brisk walks in the evening to ready herself for the 12 kilometer steep climb up the mountain. This was going to be a real pilgrimage, down to the physical challenges.
When we get down at Gaurikund, the village at the base of the mountain, the first thing you notice are the ponies. Brightly decorated with colorful harnesses and bells, ponies of all shades wait to be ridden by pilgrims and tourists who find the climb too arduous. Despite the fact that she has been walking in preparation all summer, my father insists on my mother riding up the mountain on a pony. My aunt and my cousin follow suit. I decide to try and walk.
The beauty–the greenery, the waterfalls, the wildflowers–are completely lost as I struggle to keep up with my mother’s pony. Eventually, her guide recognizes someone and rents his pony for me. The trek gets easier on my lungs, but not a whole lot easier on my body. My thighs are getting bruised as the pony walks up the wide shallow steps cut into the mountain and my palms are starting to hurt as they rub against the saddle’s pommel. On the bright side, I can view and appreciate the river, the waterfalls, the bright orange clothes of the hardier pilgrims and the way that the litter-bearers walk in sync as they carry an old woman up to the top.
When we finally get to the top of the mountain and into our guest house, the first thing we notice is how incredibly cold it is. As I lie down to take a nap before dinner, I can’t help but notice that the comforter that is as thick as my mattress, is damp. It’s made of cotton, and everything made of natural fibers in the mountains is never dry, or if it is, it doesn’t stay dry for long.
After the food lodge brings us tea and we eat some of the protein bars and trail mix we packed, we make our way over to the temple. The Kedarnath temple at night is quite a sight: All the sales stalls, selling food, religious trinkets and the like, are strung with Christmas lights, as is the temple itself. Sadhus (renunciates, similar to monks) dressed in orange sit on the ground outside the temple. Musicians beat drums and play other instruments, some pilgrims sing and clap along. But the most amazing thing about the temple is its age: The temple is over 1,000 years old, and was built on the site of an older temple that was supposedly dated back to the time of the Hindu epic the Mahabharata (roughly the 4th century BCE). I feel slightly claustrophobic as I join the throng going through the temple, but also part of something bigger: I’m performing rituals and actions that have taken place in this space continuously for thousands of years.
Morning brings a bit more warmth, both in terms of the sun and the steaming buckets of hot water that the men from the lodge bring for us to bathe with (there is no running hot water). As we go out to the temple again, we suddenly see the majestic, snow-capped mountains, making me feel simultaneously powerful and insignificant. We also see how rain is made, as mists of water are sent up into the air from the surrounding Mandakini River and form clouds.
When I get back to Mumbai, I’m a few pounds lighter and have a few more more aches than I was before we started. But when I look at the video of the temple and the mountains, I believe it was all worth it. This is what people mean when they say that experiences are worth more than things, and I am so grateful for the experience.
Links: Government Travel Site for Kedarnath and surrounding districts: http://www.gmvnl.com/newgmvn/districts/rudraprayag/kedarnath.aspx
fullcircle-holistic.com is a website for services provided by Donna Bouthillier, licensed massage therapist and yoga instructor with expertise in Zero Balancing and other types of body therapies.
Coiffie.com is a website for the Coiffie, a water repellent, fashionable woman’s hood and alternative to a rain hat.
Welcome to the first issue of the Simply Centered Digest, a newsletter for Simply Centered clients, including articles and recipes on a variety of health-related topics.
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