The simple sign greeting me at the door of Puja Wellness Center was welcome, especially after trudging through the snow. I was about to head in when I saw another sign below it requesting me to remove my wet shoes.
I did, and I stepped into a quiet room imbued with warm colors of orange and olive, feeling that I also had shed the slush, traffic and post-holiday winter doldrums.
In these uncertain economic times, there's no hotter accessory than peace of mind. So instead of shopping for clothes, I was shopping for self-awareness.
Katy Martens and Courtney Klick have been practicing Ayurvedic therapy together on the west side for two years; now the two have opened Puja Wellness on University Avenue. The space has given them more room for their Ayurvedic and yoga sessions.
Ayurveda (the science of life) is an ancient Indian healing tradition that focuses on balancing a person with nature's five elements: ether, earth, fire, water and air. According to Ayurveda, each person is born with a unique body constitution made up of these elements. An imbalance among the elements produces specific symptoms - lack of energy, poor digestion, ill health.
The holistic approach begins with a thorough consultation process ($175) to assess the constitution and eventually leads to recommended therapies such as herbal remedies, nutrition suggestions and body therapy, to realign the elements. Puja also offers pancha karma, a highly intensive eight- to 30-day detoxification program.
People come to Puja for many reasons. Some want to learn more about Ayurveda and yoga. Others want to address stress reduction, weight loss or even infertility, for which Klick offers a pelvic massage. Martens says they also have basic private yoga sessions ($60/ hour) and therapeutic massages ($70 for one-hour massage). A holistic chiropractor is available on site.
A small shop complements Puja's services. Yoga mats ($66), herbalized oils ($13.50) and herb jars ($12) are available, as are food staples like organic split mung dal ($7), Purity Farms Organic Ghee ($11) and Yogi's Women's Mother-to-Bea Tea ($5).
It's best to visit Puja's website for monthly events and specials. Seva Saturday is a "selfless" service day when the wellness center provides discounted one-hour services with sliding-scale fees; the next one is scheduled for Jan. 31. There will also be a discounted pancha karma week in April. And you're welcome to drop by Puja any time to explore and sip some calming Yogi tea.