Spas can take care of us in many ways. We go to escape, relax, restore, and rejuvenate. We go with friends, family, and even just as one. We go to get our glow on with a luxurious facial treatment. We go to get pampered and we go to work out our tight, tired and sore muscles. We love a good aromatherapy or deep tissue massage but we are also curious about body rituals that may not be available just anywhere.

On a recent visit to the Elmwood Spa — Toronto’s iconic multi-level day spa located in the heart of the city, it was the Li’Tya Mala Mayi  Whole Body Ritual – a signature service that called out my name.

Li’Tya means “of the earth” and Mala Mayi means “clan food” where, in this case, means to nourish your body. Based on traditional Australian Aboriginal healing rituals, this whole body experience takes a little over three hours and it is worth taking the time. Using natural elements of the earth and sea found in the land downunder incorporated with unique techniques makes this a very personal and nurturing experience.Elmwood Spa - torontoThe Li’Tya Mala Mayi Whole Body Ritual is not your typical treatment — it’s restorative, healing, energy shifting, over all alignment and the multi-step process makes this a popular one for clients as well as staff here. The RMT, who was trained by one of the founding elders brought in from Australia, mentioned it’s a favourite one for them to do because every step is performed with utmost respect to its origins.

The healing and medicinal properties of Australia’s diverse and lush plant life has been known to aboriginals for many generations. Leaves, twigs, flowers, herbs, fruit, salt, mud and oils are sourced through Aboriginal-owned and operated businesses to ensure the quality and purity.  But that’s not all, the Aboriginal culture considers the elements – earth, water, fire, air, and wood and recognize how they affect us physically, emotionally, spiritually and environmentally. All this is thoughtfully woven in creating this balancing experience.

The ritual starts with Water Therapies to help unwind from the hustle and bustle from the busy streets  just steps away.

A gentle warm foot bath included several natural healing plants to help naturally cleanse and considered a ritual to wash your worries away.

A smudging was offered in the room to help clear any unwanted thoughts, negative energy and to help cleanse the space before proceeding. The ritual of creating sacred smoke from burning medicinal plants , is common to Indigenous cultures here in Canada but can also be found in many other cultures globally.  Sage, sweetgrass, cedar and tobacco are the most often used in a smudging. The plants are ignited usually with a matchstick and then blown out to create the smoke. Wafting the smoke towards the person being smudged helps to clear the mind and body. Then the ashes are traditionally returned to the earth. A smudging is pretty special and can even feel transformative as it happens.

Salt is commonly used in many cultures and used to help recharge the body. It is believed that salt, as a natural mineral, helps to detoxify the skin and ease aches and pains. It also promotes smoother and softer skin. I had chosen the Lemon Myrtle on this visit based completely on what resonated with how I felt in the moment.  The fine salt was sprinkled over me and worked in gently as it exfoliated my skin leaving a polished glow.

Mud baths or bush bath in Australia are known not just as a playful activity but they are also known for their natural healing and relaxing properties.  Using Maps body mud, it’s also  great for detoxifying and purifying the skin. Here your body is slathered generously with warmed mud and when cools will help in drawing out impurities from your skin. You’ll be wrapped up in blankets for about a half hour before rinsing off – there’s a shower in the treatment room!

A Kodo Massage is also incorporated into this incredible experience. This rhythmic, methodical and traditional Aboriginal massage not only helps to relieve tired muscles but is also thought to help release negative energy, encourage positive flow and help to realign the body’s overall wellness.

A great addition to the experience is also the Quandong Hair and Scalp treatment where a nutrient rich hair conditioning cream is caressingly applied. It’s known to help improve the shine in your hair and relieves a dry and itchy scalp. I was told to ideally try and leave the treatment in as long as possible for up to 24 hours — I simply pulled my hair into a quick bun when I was ready to leave.

The Li’Tya Mala Mayi Whole Body Ritual is a dreamy one that couldn’t come at a better time for me personally. Heading into the busy holiday season can get overwhelming with deadlines, the excitement of holiday gatherings, cookie exchanges, and finding time just to get to those daily chores. It’s important to find ways to keep ourselves in check and protect our energy.

This is a beautiful spa menu that is full of fascinating elements that not only protect and heal us but will also recharge and rejuvenate your body, mind and soul.

You can learn more about it here.

By the way, Elmwood Spa is celebrating its 40th birthday this year! You may want to check their site and social media for any special offerings!