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Archive for the ‘life’ Category

Hot Tub Before Massage – or After?

October 20th, 2014 by

eskaya-beach-resort-spaIf you’re like me, you enjoy a good, professional massage. Preferably outdoors on a warm beach, beneath a shaded canopy. If that’s not possible, a local massage practitioner is the next best thing. Even better, some masseuses travel with a folding massage table and still make house calls!

Perhaps you’ve just booked your spa at a fancy spa resort, and well, of course they have a large, bubbling hot spa! So now you wonder, what’s better – a hot tub soak before getting a massage? Or enjoying the hot tub or spa after the massage?

Soaking for 15 minutes in hot water, at 100-105° F, relaxes the muscles, drawing out lactic acid. This loosens tight areas, deep in muscles and connective tissue surrounding joints. It reduces inflammation of joints, reduces blood pressure and increases oxygen flow to painful areas.

So, the answer to the question – “Hot Tub Before Massage?” is a resounding “Yes!” – you should slip into the hot water before your massage, whether your massage is local, or if you are at a spa resort. Just 15 minutes in a hot tub, right before your massage appointment, will make your massage more enjoyable and effective, and easier for your therapist.

patient_getting_massage_6895If you are at a fancy spa, don’t show up to your massage appointment dripping wet. Dry off beforehand, perhaps taking a cool shower rinse, to close up skin pores (you don’t want to absorb too much massage oil!). Your muscles will retain the heat from the spa for up to an hour.

After your massage, if you want to return to the spa for 15 mins – take a soapy shower to remove any massage oils (your spa operator will appreciate this), and another soak in the tub will do aching muscles and joints good, and give your pores another tall drink of water.

Be sure to drink lots of water after your massage, and also with each hot tub soak – both massage and hot tubbing use a lot of your body’s water, so replenish with water – or cucumber-melon infused water, if you’re at a fancy spa! If you’re at home, you could enjoy massage while in the hot tub, with these hot tub massage tips.

Either way ~ I’m so jealous!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Tips for Relaxation in a Spa or Hot Tub

October 1st, 2014 by

spa-readyA spa or hot tub is a great place to relax – if you can get it all to yourself, with a little peace and quiet, and privacy.

But even when it is – public and loud – you can still not only enjoy the soothing effect of the hot water, but take away a feeling of peacefulness – otherwise known as relaxation.

Here’s my Top 5 Tips for Tranquility in your spa or hot tub!

 

Meditate!

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My number one way to relax in the hot tub is to meditate. I wrote an entire post on hot tub meditation, so I guess I’m something of an expert – not! Meditation is a practice, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. You can meditate on a specific water location, or just focus on your breathing and sweeping your thoughts away. Music, a part of everyone’s list of relaxation tips, can also be used to help you ease into a meditative state more easily. Choose soft music, without lyrics, and keep the volume level low, sort of as background tones.

Decorate!

If you are lucky, you have a spa with a beautiful view, overlooking a valley or the ocean. If not, then decorate your space to provide something pleasant to look at, while at the same time adding privacy. Hedges or Trellis ivy provides both privacy and a softer view. Many people have their spa on the back porch or patio. Surround two sides with some tall plants, and maybe a large lithograph for the wall. An overhead fan is nice if your spa is in a covered area. And plants, lots of plants!

Smile!

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It’s hard not to relax when your smiling. I know for me, I can improve my mood just by forcing myself to smile, or enjoy myself more. I’m not talking about a big Joker grin while you’re in the spa, just a subtle, soft upturn. Try it now, right now! I promise you you’ll feel better. And it’s the same for your hot tub, or traffic, or writing blog posts…everything’s better with a smile!

Breathe!

Deep breathing is another quick way to calm the body down, whether for meditation, sleep or relaxation. For me, after the spine tingling rush of getting in the hot tub is over, I take several deep breaths into my stomach. Then I take several full Yogi breaths, expanding my rib cage sideways, and filling my upper chest with air. Breathing is important for any activity – obviously, but for the most complete spa or hot tub relaxation, don’t forget to breathe!

Get Comfy!

spa-booster-seatSome spas have molded seats and pillows, and if there’s no one else in the spa, I can usually find one that’s just right for me – not too big and not too small. But, that’s not always the case. If your spa or hot tub seats are less than comfortable, do something about it! We have a padded spa booster seat and spa pillows that you can use – much better than trying to use a towel!

 

Enjoy your spa or hot tub!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

Restless Legs Syndrome – Relief in a Hot Tub!

September 22nd, 2014 by

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Tomorrow (September 23) is the international day of awareness for Restless Legs Syndrome, otherwise known as RLS.

RLS is a neurological condition that gives sufferers uncontrollable leg movements, or urge to move the legs – a restlessness – especially while lying still, or trying to sleep. Symptoms are more pronounced at the end of the day, which also makes RLS a sleep disorder.

It has recently come to the forefront with millions of sufferers, even celebrities such as Keith Olbermann, former MSNBC talk show host who has been given a diagnosis of RLS. But, this is not a new condition, having been first identified 70 years ago, in 1945.

Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome

  • A strong impulse to move the legs, especially when sitting or laying in a prone position.
  • Moving the legs or feet brings temporary relief.
  • Legs have feelings of tremors or pulling, itching or like bugs under the skin.
  • Involuntary jerking of the legs during the daytime, or kicking at night.
  • Insomnia, or poor sleep patterns, as a result of leg tremors.

Diagnosis of Restless Legs Syndrome

Your doctor can determine if RLS exists, although you may already have a good idea. Symptoms such as those above can assist in a diagnosis, however, there are no specific tests that can be used to make a definite diagnosis. Like other ‘experiential’ conditions, RLS is primarily diagnosed symptomatically – by how you describe your troubles to your doctor. Cramping and twitching of the legs, which worsens when the body is at rest, and tending to increase at the end of an active day, are typical complaints of a person suffering from RLS.

Relief for Restless Legs Syndrome

There are many contributors to RLS, such as diet, activity and lifestyle. Making certain changes can help alleviate symptoms, and there are many treatments available, including many Parkinson’s Disease medications that can help. Before seeking a medication solution, which can have side effects, it is recommended to try other self-help methods of relief.

  • Moderate exercise for the lower body, such as swimming, walking or biking.
  • Avoid sitting or standing in one position for long periods of time.
  • Stretches for the legs and lower back. Yoga and Pilates can be especially helpful.
  • Pressure massage can be very helpful, from a sympathetic partner or with a lower leg massage machine.
  • Swaddling the legs, or wearing compression socks is helpful for many sufferers.
  • Sleeping with a large pillow between the legs can also bring relief.
  • Steady sleep schedules can help reduce fatigue, which tends to worsen symptoms.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and tobacco, which can also make symptoms worse.
  • Dietary supplements, especially Iron and Magnesium can eliminate symptoms.
  • Avoid stress, take it easy. Mental stress can aggravate symptoms.
  • If you are overweight, reducing caloric intake can reduce leg stress.
  • Avoid OTC sleeping pills, anti-nausea medications and antihistamines.

Finally, a warm bath before bedtime, or a short session in a hot tub, can bring fast relief, especially when combined with light stretching of the calves, hips and thighs. If you suffer from lower back pain, symptoms of RLS are frequently associated with tension that begins in the lumbar or coccyx region, and radiates down the back of the thighs.relief-for-RLS

Hot tubs and Spas bring relief to millions of people suffering from a variety of conditions. Restless legs syndrome is just one more. Give it a try! If you don’t own a hot tub, don’t rush right out and buy one, but first try a week of 20 minute soaks in a hot bathtub, with some light leg stretches. Point and pull the toes, pull the knee up toward the chest.

Immediately after leaving the bathtub or hot tub, try a kneeling position, with a straight back, buttocks resting on your heels. Standing up, stretch the calves by placing both hands on the wall and leaning in slowly. Stretch the thighs by lifting up your leg behind you, and pulling your ankle toward the buttocks.

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Refinishing your Spa Cabinet

September 18th, 2014 by

SPA-CABINET-RESTORATION

A spa cabinet, or the outside staves of a hot tub, begin to fade and splinter after some time in the good ‘ol outdoors. Even manufactured wood spa cabinets begin to show their age after a while. You should avoid staining and sealing the inside of a hot tub, but the outside, or steps and cabinets around a tub or spa is an easy way to rejuvenate your spa or hot tub!

At some point, your spa cabinet will lose the luster it once had, and you will decide to do something about it. This post is about how to rehab your cabinets around a spa or hot tub – and protecting it, before winter sets in.

 

Keeping your Spa Cabinet Clean

To keep your spa cabinet clean, you have to think about the area surrounding the spa.

  1. Shield from sprinklers or roof runoff water.
  2. Shield from direct sun if longer than a few hours.
  3. Spray any weeds, keep plants 6″ away from cabinet.
  4. Cover bare ground around spa with gravel, mats or decking.
  5. Don’t let your spa overflow, or allow heavy splashout from the spa.

Refinishing Spa Cabinets

Spa cabinets can be made of wood, typically cedar or redwood varieties, but common nowadays are composite plastic materials, in colors, with grained or patterned finishes. These finishes don’t require re-finishing, usually a cleaning with a stiff brush and a bucket of soapy water is all they need. If you do want to spiff up your non-wood cabinet, you can use spa cover conditioner to restore a darker, glossy finish, and remove minor scuffs.

Wood cabinets can become faded, chipped and over time, begin to rot. Even cedar and redwood cabinets, more resistant to insect and bacteria damage (rot), will eventually begin to deteriorate. Regularly cleaning and sealing your cabinet, and taking care of those 5 things listed above, will keep any wood spa cabinet looking good for a lifetime.

STEP ONE: CLEAN IT

Cleaning a wood spa cabinet with a stiff brush is the first step. If you don’t have a heavy, short handled brush, you can use a toilet brush (lol), or unscrew the handle from a push broom, or floor scrubber. Fill a small bucket with a gallon of water and some dish soap. Then, just like cleaning a car, go around the cabinet and give it a good scrubbing, top to bottom.

Notice how the water drains off, and if it pools in any spots on the cabinet or below the cabinet. Lightly hose off the surface with a hose spray nozzle, or wipe clean with a wet sponge, going with the grain as you wipe. Let your cabinet dry for a good 24 hours before the next step.

step two: repair it

You may be able to skip this step, I hope. But if your wood spa cabinet has some areas of wood rot, with hollow loose areas that you can practically poke your finger into… Look for any loose nails or screws, or any bowed sections, anything unusual.

Chipped, rotted or decayed sections can be cut out with a razor knife, and filled in with wood filler or any exterior wall repair patch. This will slow the deterioration of the wood. Just lay it in there with a putty knife and allow it to dry.

Rough areas, or splintering wood cabinets can be lightly sanded with a medium grit sandpaper. Wrap it around a dry sponge to make a sanding block.

step three: stain it

If your wood has visible damage, or severe fading, a solid cover stain will hide more imperfections than a transparent or semi-transparent stain. If it is in very bad condition, with advanced fading and color differences, you can use an exterior paint, but this will hide the natural tone of the wood, and could require frequent repainting.

Take a picture of your spa color as you go to your local hardware supply to try and match the stain color as close as possible. When in doubt, always select a lighter colored stain than what you think you have. The smallest jar of stain (4 oz) is often enough for a spa cabinet. Tear off the can label after use, and tape or staple it somewhere inside your spa cabinet, so you can remember the stain color 5 years from now.

Despite some other spa bloggers that suggest that you use Linseed Oil (blogger war!), I would stay away from this unless you have a very dark colored cabinet. It can be hard to control the mix and application, and you could end up with a black spa cabinet. Other than a problem with darkening, Linseed Oil does make a nice wood preservative.

For best results in staining, use a clean, textured kitchen sponge, strained of excess stain. Be sure to use a drop cloth, wear rubber gloves, and keep a rag handy to wipe up any pooling.

step four: seal it

Sealing the stained wood is a most important step for protecting your restored finish. While your browsing stains and sealers, you’ll notice that there are many products that are stain-and-sealer in one (!). These are fine to use – I like to use the Mixwax PolyShades line of all-in-one, but there are others.

If you don’t use a combination stain and sealer, you can find several polyurethane sealers or waterproofing products. Look for a product that won’t need reapplication twice per year, but something that is more permanent. Choose your finish – matte, satin or glossy. After your stain dries, you can apply the sealer, with a sprayer, rag or sponge.

>>> Most spa cabinets will need a refinishing every 5 years or so. So, what are you waiting for? Clean it, Stain it & Seal it!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

Advanced Hot Water Chemistry

September 15th, 2014 by

advanced-hot-tub-chemistry---PM

Beyond pH and Bromine levels, beyond alkalinity and calcium hardness – what else is there?

Maintaining a healthy hot tub is crucial not only for the users of the spa, to avoid sickness, but also for the integrity of your hot tub spa.

The following article on hot tub water chemistry will focus on 3 important tenets:

1. A Hot Tub is Not a Small Pool.

2. Chemicals behave differently in Hot Water.

3. Spa filters are important to chemistry.

 

1. HOT TUBS ARE NOT SMALL SWIMMING POOLS

Although many spa owners treat their spas and swimming pools the same, using the same test kits and even the same chemical treatments, there is a world of difference between the two. The largest difference is in volume. Easy enough to understand, a spa of 400 gallons is quite a bit smaller than a pool containing 20000 gallons.

The main distinction here is in gallons per bather. When 4 persons slip into a 400 gallon spa, that’s the equivalent of 200 swimmers in a 20000 gallon pool. A radical change in water chemistry occurs when people enter a hot tub. The pH tends to jump up dramatically, and the sanitizer is pummeled. The small cartridge filter, adequately sized for an unused spa, becomes immediately overwhelmed.

Bromine tends to respond better than chlorine in this situation, maintaining more efficacy at higher pH levels than chlorine, but even a high level of bromine is rapidly depleted in the presence of several spa users. This leaves your bathers unprotected from pathogenic microorganisms.

This is why a Hot Tub needs to have additional sanitation methods. Using an Ozonator and a mineral purifier together (in addition to bromine), is the best way to ensure extra protection for a hot tub or spa used by several persons at the same time.

This is also why it is so important for spa users to shower thoroughly before using a hot tub. I know that it’s difficult (if not outright rude) to ask guests to shower before using a spa, but just imagine all of the gunk that is washing off their (and your) body – bacteria, dirt, fungus, feces, oils, urine – to name a few. Not to mention all those chemicals from cosmetics, lotions, hair care products, shampoo and soaps. And your skin pores, opening up in that hot water…

 

2. CHEMICALS BEHAVE DIFFERENTLY IN HOT WATER

As water temperature rises, the viscosity or density of water decreases, and molecular activity increases. Sanitizing agents become hyperactive, and quickly dissipate. Carbonates and bicarbonates, hydrogen and hydroxyl ions, and calcium minerals all ‘fly’ around the water at breakneck speed, combining and separating in bizarre ways, not seen in colder water. Molecules in cold water have a greater atomic bonding, and resist change, whereas in hot water, molecular combinations (not all good) occur much more easily in hot water.

Cold water also holds much more entrained oxygen than hot water, and sound travels faster in cold water. Not much to do with hot tub water chemistry, I just think it’s interesting, that’s all. Everything that is in your hot tub water, every speck of dust, every droplet of bodily fluid, all affect water balance, and contribute to Total Dissolved Solids in a hot tub. It’s another property of hot water that solids break down more easily than in cold water. But they don’t go away, they are simply dissolved in the water.

Pool chemicals are not suitable for spas and hot tubs. Namely because of the labeling and dosages listed. It’s very easy to overdose or under dose a hot tub. Even for those chemicals that may be identical, such as pH up or Alkalinity increaser. Although chemically the same, spa chemicals are produced in finer grades, to dissolve more rapidly.

Other pool chemicals, such as clarifiers and algaecides, are not produced for use in hot water temperatures. They break down more readily in water of higher temperatures, and combine in ways that render them useless. These reasons are why you should not use pool chemicals in your spa or hot tub.

 

3. SPA FILTERS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU THINK

You may wonder what the spa filter has to do with hot tub water chemistry, but as the title implies, it’s more important than you may think!

Harkening back to our opening paragraph, when 3 or 4 people jump into a hot tub, it can overwhelm a spa filter. I’m speaking of the pleated filter cartridge that serves to strain out small particles in your hot tub. In most cases, their diminutive size is adequate for a hot tub that is not hosting visitors, but place a few humans in the equation, and it can take hours for it to catch up.

In spas, as in swimming pools, there needs to be a balance of sanitation and filtration. A balance is important, if you will – imagine doing it all with only one of these. If you only had sanitation (and no filtration – stagnant water), you would need a very large amount of sanitizer to keep the water clean and clear. Or – you could do without sanitizer, if you had a filter as big as a house, or circulation of hundreds of gallons of water per minute. But this is impractical, so we rely on a balance.

It doesn’t take long for a small cartridge filter to stop pulling it’s weight around a hot tub or spa. When this happens, much more is required of your sanitizer, or more sanitizer is required, I should say. I know that some of you may be guilty of going years without changing the filter cartridge. Sure you clean it – occasionally, but when was the last time you replaced your spa filter?

For best results, replace your filter cartridge every 10-15 cleanings, or every 12-24 months, depending on how often the spa is used. A spa filter that needs replacement won’t stand up and wave it’s hand for a substitute, it quietly keeps chugging along, allowing microscopic debris to pass through unfiltered.

When your filter is doing less than what is required, your water suffers, and it could affect the health of your spa users and your spa luster. Do yourself a favor and set a calendar reminder to replace your spa filter on a regular basis. Or, do what I do, and buy them in pairs, and alternate cartridges when one is removed for cleaning. This allows me to go 24 months between purchases, and also means that I allow the cartridge to dry fully after cleaning it, which kills any contaminants buried deep inside the fibers.

 

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Exterior Design – Creating Hot Tub Décor

September 4th, 2014 by

exterior-design-hot-tubs-and-spasGood exterior design is a sum of its parts, bringing together disparate elements into one cohesive and balanced design.

Your hot tub or spa is a warm, bubbling respite away from the stress of everyday life. Shouldn’t the surroundings of your spa also create feelings of peace and serenity? I’m not talking about a Zen garden, although if that’s your theme, by all means go ahead – but rather adding design elements that engage the senses, and produce an air of tranquility. Isn’t that what your hot tub is all about?

Put into words, using adjectives – just what is it that a Hot Tub means to you. Not your current hot tub, but your ideal hot tub. What would it look like? Rustic? Elegant? Tropical? Modern? Now how does it make you feel – Chic? Adventurous? Pampered? Relaxed?

Principles of Exterior Design

Balance & Contrast

Exterior Design is not so different from interior design. To make interesting spaces, designers play with balancing and contrasting elements. An element is anything tactile and visual – everything in sight is an element that can be matched or juxtaposed with surrounding surfaces and objects.

Lines: Horizontal or Vertical, diagonal or curved. The visual lines around your hot tub – fence, walls, floors, even the hot tub itself can balance each other in simple or striking ways. Lines can be used to make a space feel taller or more spacious. The type of lines used can evoke very different feelings. Thick or thin, precise or varied, bold or barely there. Wall, ceiling and floor coverings often make use of lines, to bring balance or contrast to the shape of the room, or outdoor space.

hot-tub-exterior-decorating

Symmetry: Open any book on design and there will be an early chapter on creating symmetry. It’s all around us, and being that our own bodies are symmetrical, we are naturally drawn towards symmetry. In exterior design, you’ll often find landscapes very symmetrical, and the house as well. Symmetry is as natural as bookends, end tables or night stands, but can also be seen as boring by those who prefer to avoid repetition.

Asymmetry: Asymmetrical designs can be just as pleasing, but instead of using repetition, they create balance through contrast. The difference can be with color, size, position, texture, quantity or even empty space. If you want something different, consider radial design, with elements arranged in a concentric fashion around a focal point, like your hot tub!

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Scale & Shape

One can do a lot with scale & shape – the size and form of various elements placed around the hot tub, and if space allows, focal points placed further out in the field of vision.

Size:  The outdoors allows and begs for a larger scale than what can be done indoors. A few examples of large elements around a hot tub include outdoor fireplaces, overhead pergola or open air gazebos. Large oak leaf and ivy trellises can double as privy fences, and chunky living room style lounges and daybeds, fountains or sculptures can be added to your spa resort.

Form: Shapes are all around us – even the spaces in between ‘things’ have a shape. Shapes need not be 3-dimensional, that is they don’t have to have depth, and so are often added to walls, but can also be creatively used on floors and ceilings.

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Landscape: When imagining the landscape around your spa, one way to consider scale and shape is to use a mix of small, medium and large plants (or small trees) to build layers of shapes and sizes. If you love blooms, plan and plant a perennial garden, blooming from early spring to late autumn. Your landscape doesn’t have to match your style completely, but should complement a theme. For instance, hot tub landscaping can be formal or casual, desert or tropical, beach or mountains. It can be inspired by Asian, Mediterranean or Latin landscape gardens. It’s best to consider your growing zone, and choose plants that will thrive in your climate, and with available daily sun exposure. Your local garden center has experts that can help you with plant selection for scale, shape and style.

Colors & Textures

color-wheelThere is a general rule of design that 3 colors is the maximum number of hues that one should use in a space. These are sometimes referred to as the dominant, secondary and accent colors. However, if you want to use more colors, make use of analogous colors, or those that are in the same general spectrum of color, or neighbors on the color wheel. Opposites on the color wheel are often paired together, in a complementary color scheme.

When designers consider a color scheme for a room or outdoor space, they can go in several directions, depending on the primary use of the space, and the wishes of those who will inhabit the space. If you have a theme in mind, or an overall style picked out, it makes it easier to narrow the color choices. Often, certain elements or focal points in the space become the primary inspiration for the color palette. But it doesn’t have to be!

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Textures: Everything has a texture, and will fall somewhere on a spectrum of texture from smooth to rough. There are two types of texture – actual texture and simulated texture. Actual texture will have depth and a tactile sensation of texture. Simulated texture is created by duplicating the color value and darkness of the original, but in only two dimensions. It’s best practice to use a combination of surface textures, to suit your style. Generally, the more formal a setting is, the smoother the elements become, while more rustic or outdoorsy style will utilize a great deal more texture. Texture can be overdone however, so use with care, to avoid too many or too few competing textures.

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Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tub Water Meditation Techniques

August 28th, 2014 by

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A hot tub is a perfect place for meditation, if you can get it all to yourself that is! I’m fortunate to have one evening per week when I’m alone with my tub, and take the time to practice short mindful meditations.

Emphasis on the word ‘practice’, because meditation is something that gets better each time you do it, and becomes easier – the more you practice.

If you’ve never tried to meditate, or have given it only a few sporadic efforts, you are missing out on one of the best ways to relieve stress, pain and fatigue. There are too many benefits to list; trust me – meditation is good stuff!

Meditate in your own spa or hot tub!

 

Set the Mood

Turn down the lights, turn down the heat, and turn off the pumps and air blower. You can light a scented candle, or add aromatherapy salts to your hot tub. Put the heat at whatever temperature you like, I tend to prefer 100°, but it depends on the outside air temperature. 104° is really too hot for quiet meditation, but something between 90-100 degrees (32-38° C) seems to work for most people.

You don’t necessarily need to be alone to meditate, but it helps if others also remain still and quiet, preferably meditating as well. If you like,  you can add some soft music, without lyrics. Yoga music or meditation music works well. I prefer the still sounds of the night, but then my neighborhood is fairly quiet. If you have more urban sounds, or cacophony of crickets, meditation music can be helpful – to set the mood.

focus on the body

The first step to hot tub meditation is to focus briefly on the body for a quick minute. Find a comfortable kneeling or seated position, cross legged or not, and sit up straight. Now begin to slowly check the sensations in each body area, and allow yourself to relax, bit by bit. Start at the toes, and move up the body to the top of your head. Focus your attention on your bones, muscles and joints, and allow the buoyancy of the water to take over. Pause along the each section of the spine, and you move up the body. Allow your arms to float freely in the water, limp at the wrist. Finally, relax any tension in the neck, face and scalp, and allow your body to become buoyant.

focus on the breath

The Yogi Complete Breath, from the book Science of Breath, written by a Yogi over 100 years ago, is a long and slow breath, combining low breathing, mid breathing and high breathing techniques. It takes time to master fully, but most people lock onto it after a dozen or so attempts. Once you have a comfortable seating position, sit up straight and start by ‘belly-breathing’, pushing out your stomach, as you breath deep into your stomach for a count of 2. On count 3 and 4, allow your side ribs to open up, and fill up your lower diaphragm. On count 5 and 6 fill up the upper diaphragm as your upper sternum rises toward your chin. Hold for a two count, and then slowly exhale for a 6 count, in the reverse order of inhalation. Chest down, ribs inward, stomach deflates. After much practice you can increase the time, until a complete breath takes a full minute!  Advanced breathing can add-in elements of Pranayama, by breathing-in through one nostril and exhaling through the other.

Breathing is the ladder to the next step in meditation, it is used to quiet the mind as you focus on the simple mechanics of inhaling and exhaling. Counting the breaths in your mind, with a 1-1 thousand, 2-1 thousand (or Mississippi if you prefer) can also help to drown out other thoughts and help you to remain focused on the breath.

focus on the mind

When we breathe deeply, the increased oxygen wakes up many dormant cells, and the mind can wander easily. Try to stay in the present moment, and don’t allow your mind to play tapes of the past or predictions of the future, just be here, now, in the present.

When thoughts come into my mind, this sounds silly but, I like to imagine them coming in near my ears, and a broom in the middle of my head sweeps them out the other side. The key is to catch yourself drifting into a thought, and let it go, sweep the thought away, or just let it go, and return to focus on the breathing.

Don’t chastise yourself, or wince at catching yourself thinking again, just make the neutral observation, let it go, and return your focus to the breath and body. What I do is – I relax my body and breathe deeply, and bring my attention to a spot behind my forehead, which some call the third eye, or the 6th chakra, and my thoughts diminish.

 

Water Meditation

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Water is a symbol of purity and a cleansing element. Our connection to water in this world is profound, it flows through our rivers and oceans, and through our bodies. Scientists recognize water as one of the most important elements on the planet, next to the sun’s energy, in allowing life to exist.

A water meditation is allowing your mind to wander into a short story. As your breathing continues, guide your mind to another place, a wet place – and since you’re already floating in your hot tub, why not !?!

Waterfall Meditation

Imagine yourself sitting in a warm, crystal clear tropical pool, surrounded by lush foliage of all types, with a soft waterfall cascading down in front of you. The waterfall fills you up, and joins the rhythm of your breathing. A clear mist fills the air around you as you move under the waterfall. The soft waters dance over your shoulders, cleansing and purifying.

Stream Meditation

In this mindful meditation, you’ll take a seat near a small babbling brook, choose the season you like, I usually use autumn. Feel the water as it rushes around you, flowing to ever larger tributaries, and eventually out to sea. Allow the river’s flow to match your rhythm of breath, while it cleanses and purifies.

Hot Springs Meditation

Same thing here, just a different location. You don’t even need to leave your spa – sometimes (Ok, this is getting embarrassing) I imagine my hot tub in different locations, and in my water meditation, my spa is transported, deep into the jungle, or to a cliff overlooking the ocean, or on a desert island somewhere. :-)

 

Bonus Tips for Hot Tub Meditation:

  • Start with just 10 minutes, and build up to 20 minutes over time. Set an alarm for safety.
  • Meditation Music – search on Google, and you can find long songs or videos to play on your phone.
  • Aromatherapy – Aroma really helps with water meditations, and can become the entire meditation!
  • Mantras – short words or numbers said slowly to yourself, on the exhalation.
  • Asanas – simple yoga poses or postures, seated or standing. I don’t use these myself in hot tub meditation, but you can try lotus, child, angel or diamond positions.

 

“Open your pores and bathe in all the tides of nature, in all her streams, and oceans, in all seasons”.

 -  Henry David Thoreau

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tub Folliculitis – Preventing Pseudomonas

July 17th, 2014 by

FOLLICULITISnoun \fə-ˌli-kyə-ˈlī-təs\ – inflammation of one or more follicles especially of the hair.

It’s a skin infection that produces an itchy rash with red bumps.

Pseudomonas Aeruginosa is a germ usually responsible.

 

Pseudomona… What?

pseudomonas-4Hot Tub Rash is a faster way to say it, easier than either folliculitis or pseudomonas aeruginosa! Let’s call our germ “Pseudo“; Pseudo is one of the most common bacterias in our modern society. It is naturally occurring nearly everywhere, and poorly maintained hot tubs present a particularly nice home for the pathogen.

Pseudo is also responsible for over 10% of all hospital infections. In addition to dermatitis, pseudomonas also causes gastrointestinal, urinary and respiratory infections. It’s a very opportunistic bugger, exploiting hosts with a variety of entry points.

In a hot tub that is poorly filtered and sanitized, pseudomonas can thrive, and as you soak in the water, your pores open up, and the pseudo just swims right inside, and makes a home near the root of the tiny hair follicles.

The rash usually appears on legs, buttocks and back, but hot tub rash can appear nearly anywhere on the body. The rash can begin to appear within a few hours, but may take up to 24 hours to become noticeable. The rash frequently appears under the swimsuit areas, due to continued exposure even after leaving the water.

Preventing Pseudomonas

To make sure we get the information correct, I went straight to the experts. Prevent hot tub rash in your spa by following these tips from the CDC’s Pseudomonas Fact Sheet.

  • Remove biofilm slime regularly by scrubbing and cleaning.
  • Replace the spa filter according to manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Replace the water in a hot tub regularly.  Here’s how.
  • Maintain pH levels in the 7.2-7.8 range.
  • Maintain sanitizer levels; 2-4ppm chlorine, or 4-6ppm bromine.

Public Spas & Hot Tubs

The fact is, most cases of hot tub rash occur in public spas – hotels, resorts, rec centers, gyms. It’s much less common in well maintained home spas. Public spas have high levels of guests, which pummels the sanitizer and pH levels, and quickly allows bacteria to form, unless the operator is constantly monitoring the chemistry and filtration.

To safely use a public spa, which I do on occasion while on vacation – here’s a few tips of my own:

  • I always pack some spa test strips to discreetly test the spa pH and sanitizer in a public spa.
  • Limit your soak to 20 minutes, afterwards, wash yourself and your swimsuit in the shower.
  • Change into dry clothes, don’t stay in your swimsuit.

Hot Tub Rash Treatment

In most cases, the rash will disappear on it’s own in otherwise healthy individuals. Itching can be reduced with a calamine lotion, or similar anti-itch ointment.

In individuals with compromised immune systems, or if symptoms persist past 3-4 days, or appear to be spreading, visit  your doctor or a dermatologist, who may prescribe an antibiotic medication or antifungal cream. Lab tests could be performed to determine the exact type of bacteria or fungus.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara

 

Hot Tub Cool Tub – Using Spas During Summer

July 7th, 2014 by

steamy-spaDo you lower your spa temperature during summer? Or keep it blazing hot all year ’round?

I wondered about this, so I took a short office poll, and I asked people on our facebook page this question.

Do you ever use your spa for cooling soaks, with lower water temperatures?

I  didn’t control for location, spa type, or any variables at all, actually – so not a ‘scientific’ study on spa use.

 

Nonetheless, the results were interesting! cool-spa

Of the adults surveyed, 80% of them prefer to keep their spa or hot tub – hot all year around. Assuming of course, that there are no spa heater problems! 18% of respondents indicated that they do use their spa for occasional cool water soaking.

Of course I had some follow-up questions for those who said Yes! to cool water soaking. I asked them what they used it for, and compiled the comments. Most were related to “cooling off!“, and quite a few mentioned exercise, or using cool water to perform low impact stretching or calisthenics.

 

spa-temp-lgrI also wanted to ask a multiple choice question: “What’s temperature is best for cool water soaks?” Some said they don’t even check, they just shut off the heat, and it seems to stay around 70-75 degrees. But for those that I could pin down to a 5 degree range, most preferred the water to be 70-85° – except for the few polar bears out there, that are still using it with water temperatures in the 60′s.

 

So how about you? Do you like to use your spa or hot tub at a lower temperature as a way to beat the summer heat? Or as a way for a low impact exercise, especially for illness or injury recovery?

Give it a try if you’ve never done it before! You can still turn the blower on, and put the jets on high for some hydrotherapy, and add some tropical spa scents to the water to enjoy it even more!

During the survey, I tried a cool spa myself, and I have to say it is great when the night air is hot.

 

- Jack

 

The World’s Most Exotic Hot Tub Locations

June 23rd, 2014 by

my-ugly-spa A hot tub is a hot tub, right? Well, it helps if you have a majestic or tranquil view. In my backyard, I have the lovely view of my fence, and a struggling lawn, along with the noise from the Santa Ana Freeway.

So forgive me if I’m a bit enamored with the life of luxury, the life of the Rich & Famous. For those that can afford to travel to exotic locations around the world, you can book a room with a view, and a hot tub!

The pictorial below is my new travel bucket list for the next ten years!

 

The Joshua Tree Green House – Twenty-nine Palms, CA

joshua-tree-green-haus

Iglu village in Zematt, Switzerland

iglu-village-zematt-switzerland

Vacation Rental in Luray, Va with views of the Shenandoah Valleyvacationrentalsdotcome-luray-va

Vacation rental in mountainous Utah. Grand Cabin near Salt Lake City

utahvacationhomesdotcom-grand-cabin

Sapphire Breeze, St John’s USVI

sapphire-breeze-stjohns-usvi

Coronado Beach Resort, CA, with a beautiful Pacific sunset

coronado-beach-resort

Aviary Cottage, Twin Farms, VT

aviary-cottage-twin-farms-vt

View of late sunset in Colorado Springs, CO

colorado-hot-tub-steamboat-springs

Dallas, TX skyline, seen from rooftop spa on Hugo street

dallas-rooftop-spa-Hugo-Street

View from Battery Park looking across the Hudson River to New Jersey

interiors-by-studio-m

Lake Michigan on Chicago’s Miracle Mile – jk, Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort

bora-bora-pearl-beach-resort

I hope you enjoyed my quick visual vacation! Let me know if you go to any of these exotic locales! I’ll be so jealous!

:-)

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works