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Spa Secrets from Ojai

View looking west at sunrise from the Ojai Valley Rotary monument on California Highway 150

With its majestic condors soaring over the scrubby chaparral and oak savannas of the Central Coast; orcas, dolphins, porpoises, and breaching humpback whales plying the cold Pacific waters; rugged canyons and towering redwoods; vibrant golden-yellow California poppies and succulent ice plants clinging to sandy cliffs; and bright orange Garibaldi fish darting in and of the reefs below the surface, California is a land of unsurpassed natural splendor.

Debbie from Ojai’s Hydrating Elixir

Start your California spa ritual by cooling off from the rays of the fierce California sunshine with this hydrating elixir from Debbie Godfrey of Ojai. After a day out on the trails with her trusty paint horse Lil, Debbie looks to this invigorating infusion for ultimate refreshment. Steep slices of cucumber, lemon (or lime), fresh turmeric, and fresh ginger in cool water overnight to allow the components to impart their essence. Thirst-quenching and antioxidant.

Sage Diffuser

Spa Ojai at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa is recognized on the discriminating list in Karina Callen’s inspirational and informative book Spa as one of the best spas worldwide for alternative treatments. I agree. To create your own sacred space and evoke a southwestern vibe, place a tea light in a clay diffuser, fill the little receptacle with water and a few drops of essential oil of sage and breathe in the ambience. Sage, particularly white sage, an evergreen salvia native to the southern California coast, is known for its cleansing properties and is a part of many Native American ceremonies and rituals. The Chumash, who originally inhabited the Ojai Valley, would gather the leaves to create ‘smudge sticks,’ which are burned to produce a spirit-soothing incense.

The Kuyam Experience


The Kuyam experience, the signature mud treatment at Spa Ojai, takes inspiration from the traditional healing ways of many cultures, from the colorful and exotic Moroccan-tiled kuyam chamber to the harmonious sharing of a communal experience, and means “a place to rest together” in the language of the Chumash people. The only spa treatment of this type in the United States, this Native American treatment combines the therapeutic effects of cleansing mud, dry heat, aromatherapy and guided meditation.

The use of mineral-rich desert red clays infused with botanical essences is very healing to the face and body. This relaxing clay mask is designed to nourish and soften your skin, leaving you feeling re-energized and refreshed. The pure essential oil blend that includes sweet orange, ginger, and lavender is designed to be gently stimulating, increasing circulation. It is comforting, soothing the digestive system, muscles, and joints. Apply especially to the lower chest and belly region, and on all major joints.

While the Spa at Ojai used Sedona clay, an energizing and detoxifying iron-rich clay, I used Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay, calcium bentonite, which I ordered off Thrive Market on the internet. Simply mix equal parts with apple cider vinegar in a little glass, pottery, or wooden bowl. I like to start with a bamboo baby bowl and little bamboo rice paddle from $5.

Next, fill the tub about an inch deep with warm water. Use a dark terry cloth hairband to keep hair off the forehead. Apply the clay to the face and body, particularly to joints, but really all over is fine. Let the clay dry. You might notice a slight tingly feeling. Use a dark washcloth to gently remove clay from the face and then body. Drain water and rinse tub. Then refill with a nice hot bath. This is when I grab my bath pillow. Sink in for the ultimate calm.

Lavender Chill Zone & Citrus Spritzer

To cool off, a lavender-chilled hand towel applied to the forehead and chest is beyond refreshing. And for a cooling mister, fill a spritzer with water infused with uplifting citrus essences such as grapefruit, tangerine (like the pixies of Ojai), and sweet orange. It can also be quite luxurious to follow up with a light application of warmed jojoba oil with essence of sage. So while it may be true that I don’t have Moroccan-tiled chamber in my little condo in Falls Church, with just a little imagination, I can transport myself to Ojai whenever I want– and so can you!