Whispers from the Well

Well Within Spa Summer Newsletter

Blessings of Light

as we Welcome the  Summer Solstice…

The summer solstice occurs twice each year, at which time the earth tilts on its axis towards the sun and the sun reaches its highest position in the sky as seen from the north or the south pole. The Sun is directly overhead at its most northern point at “high-noon” on the summer solstice, creating more sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere on this day then any other.
Solstice is derived from Latin Sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), as it appears to do at this time. The summer solstice occurs during a hemisphere’s summer. This is northern solstice in the northern hemisphere and the southern solstice in the southern hemisphere. At the summer solstice, the days are longest and the nights are shortest, with day-length decreasing as the season progresses after the solstice. The date of the beginning of summer varies according to climate, culture, and tradition, but when it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere it is winter in the Southern Hemisphere, and vice versa.
    Though the summer solstice is an instant in time, the term is also colloquially used like midsummer to refer to the day on which it occurs. The summer solstice occurs on the day that has the longest period of daylight, except in the polar regions, where daylight is continuous, from a few days to six months around the summer solstice. Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied among cultures, but most have recognition of sign of the fertility, involving holidays, festivals, and rituals around that time.
    In temperate regions, we notice that the Sun is higher in the sky throughout the day, and its rays strike Earth at a more direct angle, causing the efficient warming we call summer. People take advantage of the warmer temperatures by spending more time outdoors during the summer. Activities such as traveling to the beach and picnics occur during summer months. Water sports including water skiing, wake boarding, swimming, surfing, and tubing are popular in the warm summer sun too.
Everyone loves summer! Filled with trips to the beach, sunny skies, and lazy days, summer is the time of year when the weather gets its warmest. As the temperatures rise, the water levels in ponds, lakes, and rivers drop. Nature’s efforts in the spring to fully bloom prove fruitful as the green leaves of various trees shake and rattle in the cool summer breezes and flowers grace our gardens.

The Brilliance of the Summer Sun

Nothing is more important to us on this Earth than the Sun. The existence of nearly all life on Earth is fueled by light from the sun. Without the Sun’s heat and light, the Earth would be a lifeless ball of ice-coated rock. The Sun warms our seas, stirs our atmosphere, generates our weather patterns, and gives energy to the growing green plants that provide the food and oxygen for life on Earth.

solar radiation

      The Sun is the main source of energy for earth. It gives us heat and light and helps us to remove darkness and bring light all around the world. The Sun rises in the east and sets in the west. In olden days people use to worship Sun as God because it was the only visible powerful thing. In the early morning, birds welcome the Sun with a lovely and chirping song and this gives an indication to the mankind about the arrival of the new day. In the early morning, the sunrays help us by providing Vitamin D which is essential for our skin. Some people are seen basking in the sunshine to get useful Vitamin D and get tanned as well. Most of us are aware that overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays is potentially dangerous, and that a gradual tanning routine, as the summer season progresses, is the only commonsense approach to sunbathing.
      Sunlight is the major source of vitamin D-producing Ultraviolet-B radiation, which has a wide range of positive health effects, including possibly inhibiting the growth of some cancers. On the other hand, long-term sunlight exposure is known to be associated with the development of skin cancer, skin aging, immune suppression and eye diseases such as cataracts. Sun exposure has also been associated with the timing of melatonin synthesis and reduced risk of seasonal affective disorder. A number of public health organizations state that there needs to be a balance between the risks of having too much and the risks of having too little sunlight. There is a general consensus that sunburn should always be avoided.

      The healing benefits of sunlight are well known. Most of us know that the sun produces vitamin D can be made in your body after careful exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun. It’s less well known, however, that you can augment your body’s natural sun protection systems if you increase your consumption of C and B vitamins, all of which are depleted when your body is regularly exposed to solar rays. Summer’s delicious harvests of fresh fruits and vegetables provide us with excellent sources of vitamins.
     There is some evidence that bright light exposure reduces seasonal affective disorder and it is a standard treatment for certain circadian rhythm sleep disorders. There is a research on the possibility of sun exposure reducing hypertension and the incidence of cardiac disease.
     It is important to get adequate natural sunlight exposure for optimum health, but be wise and use natural, chemical-free sunscreens to protect your skin.

Our Locally-made Sunscreens & Lip Protection from  BurnOut Suncare…

BurnOut Zinc Oxide Sunscreens are chemical-free — petroleum-free — paraben-free — phthalate-free —  paba-free — gluten-free — non-comedogenic — hypoallergenic — fragrance-free. BurnOut is a mineral sunscreen that is effective immediately upon application and is perfect for sensitive skin.
       Physical sunscreen means that the sunscreen is a mineral sunscreen (like zinc oxide, or titanium dioxide), as opposed to a chemical sunscreen. Mineral sunscreens, like the zinc oxide in BurnOut, work by reflecting the UVA and UVB rays, as opposed to a chemical sunscreen, which is a chemical UV absorber. 
     The value of sun protection during summertime is clear. Everyone needs sunscreen, and it is wise to use sunscreens every day. For adults, incidental exposure from simple things like driving your car or gardening account for a majority percentage of daily sun exposure.
    Even on cloudy days the majority of the sun’s rays penetrate light clouds, mist and fog. The cloudiest day in winter can still have up to 80% of the UV light as the hottest day in summer. Why is it so important for kids to wear sunscreen? On average, children get three times more sun exposure than adults. And for most of us, about 80% of our lifetime exposure occurs before the age of 18. Using high SPF 15+ products during the first 18 years of life can dramatically lower the risk of certain types of skin cancer.

Blessings of Change

Nothing is more important

The Autumnal Equinox is at 1:44 pm PDT on Sunday, September 22, and officially marks the beginning of the fall season in the northern hemisphere. The name ‘equinox’ comes from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), referring to the 12-hour long day and night that occurs only twice a year, when the tilt of the Earth’s axis and Earth’s orbit around the sun combine in such a way that the axis is inclined neither away from nor toward the sun. And it is only on the spring and autumnal equinoxes that the Sun rises due east and sets due west. But, since Earth never stops moving around the sun, these days of equal sunlight and night will change quickly.

The earliest humans spent more time outside than we do. They used the sky as both clock and calendar. They could easily see that the sun’s path across the sky, the length of daylight, and the location of the sunrise and sunset all shift in a regular way throughout the year.

Astronomically speaking, the September equinox marks one of the four major turning points in the cycle of seasons. In many regions of North America, the landscape silently explodes with vibrant colors of red, yellow, and orange. The harvest baskets are full of our summer’s work. The leaves begin to drop off the trees, providing endless hours of jumping into leaf piles for kids and raking them back up for parents! Baseball season hits the homestretch, while football season is just warming up. Temperatures begin to drop, nights begin to get longer, and all the woodland critters are storing up for the long haul of winter.

Notice the signs of the autumn equinox in nature… The knowledge that summer is gone, and winter is coming, is everywhere now, on the northern half of Earth’s globe. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you can easily notice the later dawns and earlier sunsets. Also notice the arc of the sun across the sky each day. You will find it is shifting toward the south. Birds and butterflies are migrating southward, too, along with the path of the sun. The shorter days are bringing cooler weather. A chill is in the air. In New York City and other fashionable places, people have stopped wearing white. Creatures of the wild are putting on their winter coats. All around us, trees and plants are ending this year’s cycle of growth. Perhaps they are responding with glorious autumn leaves, or a last burst of bloom before winter comes. In the night sky, Fomalhaut, the Autumn Star, is making its way across the heavens each night.

Why do autumn leaves change color?… What type of trees and weather produce the most vivid fall foliage? Not all leaves turn vivid colors in the fall. Only a few of our many species of deciduous trees, notably maple, aspen, oak, and gum, produce stellar performances for our annual autumn spectacular in North America. Several factors contribute to fall color (temperature, precipitation, soil moisture), but the main agent is light, or actually the lack of it. The amount of daylight relates to the timing of the autumnal equinox. As the autumn days grow shorter, the reduced light triggers chemical changes in deciduous plants causing a corky wall to form between the twig and the leaf stalk.

This “abscission layer” eventually causes the leaf to drop off in the breeze. As the corky cells multiply, they seal off the vessels that supply the leaf with nutrients and water and also block the exit vessels, trapping simple sugars in the leaves. The combination of reduced light, lack of nutrients, and no water add up to the death of the pigment chlorophyll, the “green” in leaves.

Once the green is gone, two other pigments show their bright faces. These pigments, carotene (yellow) and anthocyanin (red), exist in the leaf all summer but are masked by the chlorophyll. The browns in autumn leaves are the result of tannin, a chemical that exists in many leaves, especially oaks.

Our Locally-made Sunscreens & Lip Protection from  BurnOut Suncare…

‘The Well’ Spotlight… summer 2012

Our Japanese Gardener & Designer,  Toru Kawamura is the creator of our beautiful serene Japanese gardens with koi pond and waterfall at Well Within Spa. He remembers when the ground was being broken and the first large stone put in place, for what is now the naturally peaceful and delightfully balanced Zen Garden that we all enjoy. Toru appreciates being in nature for inspiration and the physical challenge of manifesting his creative spirit in the vast details of our gardens. His father was a stone mason in Japan and you see that influence in our equisite stone work at Well Within. It took many months to complete his design and he still carefully tends to the living things he created semi-annually. Toru works in the greater Bay area, designing, landscaping and maintaining gardens in his artful yet traditional way. We are grateful he does!

The Renewal of Spring…

        …Time for a Spring Cleanse & Detox
There is nothing better for detoxing and cleansing the body than to sweat out the toxins in our beautiful newly remodeled cedar-lined saunas. Add some of our essential oil blend that we provide to the hot rocks for a deeply cleansing and awakening experience to your respiratory system. Our essential oil sauna blend is a combination of eucalyptus and rosemary in filtered water to sprinkle on the hot rocks in your sauna and breathe in the refreshing steam that it emits. You can assist your Spring cleanse by soaking in our hot tubs, before your sauna, to relax your muscles and prepare your mind for the next step… a more invigorating experience of alternating your hot sauna sweats with a cold plunge in our Japanese Onsen soaking tub, that can be filled with fresh cold water just for that purpose. Every time you rapidly change temperature (from hot to cool or vice versa), your heart rate increases by as much as 60%, comparable to moderate exercise. This can help increase circulation and cleanse toxins from your body.

In today’s lifestyles, many of us don’t actively sweat on a daily basis, which has multiple health benefits. Regular sauna bathing provides the benefits derived from a deep sweat: In the heat of a sauna, the core body temperature begins to rise. The blood vessels dilate, causing increased blood flow. Sweat production is primarily for cooling the body, and is composed of 99% water, but deep sweating in a sauna can help reduce levels of heavy metals and chemicals, all toxins commonly picked up from our environment. As many doctors will attest, and a big reason for the popularity of saunas in general, saunas are one of the best means to detoxify our bodies. Leave feeling cleansed, refreshed and alive.

Our Saunas are usually 120 degrees and with the steam from added water can get up to 170 degrees. Our saunas should always be used in 10-15 minute increments only, followed by a cool shower or bath. We have a variety of cedar-lined dry saunas available at Well Within Spa, from a smaller sauna that’s cozy for two or larger saunas with room for your family or friends. All our saunas have a window, a light that can be dimmed, a copper bucket and ladel to scoop water onto the hot rocks, and our essential oil blend that can be mixed in the bucket or sprinkled on the rocks for a refreshing aromatic steam.
Therapeutic Benefits of sauna bathing are numerous. Most of us who have used a sauna know the feelings after we have taken one, but many of us do not know the actual benefits. Firstly, and probably most importantly for sauna bathers is that it is stress-relieving. Medical studies clearly show stress in our daily lives affects our health. In fact, the vast majority of disease is stress-related. The sauna provides stress relief in a number of ways: It’s a warm, quiet space without any distractions. Step into a sauna, and close the door on the rest of the world. The heat of the sauna relaxes the body, improves circulation and stimulates the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain releiving chemical that have a mild and enjoyable tranquilizing effect, providing a wonderful “after sauna glow.”
   There are many benefits that sauna bathing can provide for our us. German sauna medical research shows saunas significantly reduced the incidence of colds and influenza. As the body is exposed to a sauna’s heat and steam, it produces white blood cells more rapidly, which in turn help fight illness and help kill viruses. Following sporting activity, use the heat and steam of a sauna for muscle relaxation by helping to reduce muscle tension and eliminate lactic acid and other toxins. Saunas are one of the oldest and most famous beauty and health treatments for the skin as well. Research also shows a deeper sleep can result from sauna use. The sauna can be a private personal retreat or a relaxing environment for socializing with family and friends.

PLEASE NOTE that the use of a hot sauna is not advised for the very young or elderly, pregnant women, or those with cardiovascular or other serious illness, without first checking with a medical professional. The combination of a hot sauna and the use of alcohol, drugs, or medications that cause drowsiness has proven to be fatal. Be good to your body and practice safe sauna use!

Blessings of Growth

to you as we Welcome Spring…

This is the time of year when winter slowly leaves us and the sun and rain make way for the long-dormant bulbs to emerge and the sweet-scented blossoms to begin to bloom on the trees. We hear the birds as they herald the great news that Spring is here! Spring is a time of rebirth and revival, full of new possibilities!

   This season brings increasing daylight, warming temperatures, and the rebirth of flora and fauna. The word equinox is derived from the Latin words meaning “equal night.” Days and nights are approximately equal everywhere and the Sun rises and sets due east and west. People have recognized the significance of the Vernal Equinox for thousands of years. There is no shortage of rituals and traditions surrounding the coming of Spring. Many early peoples celebrated for the basic reason that their food supplies would soon be restored. The date is significant in Christianity because Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the full moon after the vernal equinox. It is also probably no coincidence that the Egyptians built the Great Sphinx so that it points directly towards the rising sun on the day of the vernal equinox.

   The first day of Spring also marks the beginning of Nowruz, the Persian New Year. In Greek mythology, it was the time when Persephone returned from the underworld, and everything bloomed again. April 1st, in fact, used to be considered New Year’s Day, and anyone who didn’t realize this was considered an April Fool. Most of us love to celebrate the season. We observe Arbor Day by planting trees and on Earth Day we clean up our parks, riverbanks, and wilderness areas. We take trips to see the tulips or cherry blossoms in bloom. We‘re not alone in that spring tradition; In Japan, millions of people flock to their parks for “Hanami” their cherry blossom festival. And all over the world, major religious events are celebrated in the Spring. Easter, named after the ancient Saxon goddess Eeostre, commemorates the resurrection of Christ. Passover marks the Jewish peoples flight to freedom from Egypt. Spring in all its beauty is indeed a time of rebirth and renewal.

‘The Well’ Spotlight . . .

Our Skin & Body Care Department Founder, Andrea Patti was the co-creator of our Skin & Body Care department at Well Within Spa. Twenty years ago, she gathered together her love for natural organic skin and body care products with her many years of experience in herbalism and aromatherapy, to create those wonderful aromatic herbal products for our Skin & Body Care treatments. Andrea believes these treatments to be rituals that enhance our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. She has taught many of us at Well Within to appreciate this philosophy and pass on the delights of sharing these fragrant uplifting sessions with our community. We are pleased and proud to have Andrea continue to share her radiant smile and vast knowledge of the aromatic herbal realms!

This Winter, Warm Yourself to the Bone

 …in our Hot Tubs & Saunas

relax tubThere is nothing better on a cold winter’s day or night, then to slip into a tub of hot water, circulating around your tired limbs and seeping deep into your bones. The bamboo gently sways so gracefully in the cool breeze beyond the shoji screen of your tub room. The sounds of the waterfall and wind chimes coax you to let go of your day and relax deeply inside your private serene retreat. Aaahhhh!….. Welcome to Well Within Spa 

Our Hot Tubs
are kept at 103-104 degrees. Our water is filtered every ten mintues, using diatomaceous earth. Few people are familiar with these single-celled marine micro-organisms that are found in abundance in large bodies of water. However, when these tiny organisms die, their skeletal remains settle to the bottom, become fossilized over time and accumulate to produce one of nature’s most beneficial and healthful substances. We use bromine as a sanitizer, which is safer and less harsh than chlorine. The water is constantly monitored by an automated system and checked manually 6x/day to ensure proper chemical balance.
[Read more…]

‘The Well’ Spotlight

Dave LeVan

Our Founder, David LeVan… With ‘a wing and a prayer’ and several loans, Dave began the process of creating Well Within Spa in September of 1984. Despite a few major obstacles, he and his partner Suzanne persevered and the doors opened on January 11, 1985. From day one, the spa has enjoyed great success in providing a vital service to the community: warmth, relaxation and retreat in a beautiful oasis in downtown Santa Cruz. Dave said he was often poor in order to ensure the success of this business, and in fact is still driving the business truck that he purchased in 1987.
Eleven years after opening Well Within, Dave purchased property near the original location and built what is currently the ‘new’ Well Within Spa. Only one day of business was lost in the transition from the old location. From the first day he opened the doors on Cedar Street, it has been an overwhelmingly successful expansion. [Read more…]

Blessings of Warmth

to you as we greet the Winter Solstice…


The time at which the sun is at its southernmost point in the sky, thus the shortest day, the longest night, and the darkest time of the year.  Humans have been observing, experiencing, erecting monuments to, and performing rituals around this cycle of light since the very beginning of us walking upright. This is an inward time when we go within and find our deepest self, a time of deep relaxation.

Hidden away in our cozy warm homes, so many of us are painfully disconnected to any form of ritual unless it involves shopping and organized religious practices, much which have lost meaning. It would be better for our health to slow down, stop and take a moment to relax.
[Read more…]