Body Check

Vitamin Pee

Urine is a natural remedy, so raise a glass! That's what alternative therapist Martin Lara wants everyone to do. In his Uropathy: The Most Powerful Holistic Therapy, pee's the ultimate cure-all.

Gagging aside, it's not so unconventional: former Indian prime minister Morarji Desai guzzled ounces each morning, observing an ancient Hindu practice. Lara learned about it 11 years ago, when the self-taught therapist— he's never studied traditional medicine— became disenchanted with science's inability to cure his ailments. Since then he's lectured to thousands.

Not any pee will do— it must be your own, which Lara says is a nontoxic biofeedback stimulator that boosts immunity by activating the lymphatic system, thus restoring the body to an internally balanced state of health.

Dosages range from a few drops of Lara's "Ultimate Universal Remedy"— an elixir of water, urine, and white rum— to several ounces for serious conditions like cancer, dysentery, or Alzheimer's.

Of course, not everyone is ready for this leap of faith. On his Web site (www.erols.com/martinlara) Lara argues against obsessing over taste and smell: "Urine is a sample of what is flowing through your veins and repulsive urine should be a motivation to improve the internal conditions, rather than an excuse for not using uropathy." — Ernie Glam

Lara's self-published Uropathy: The Most Powerful Holistic Therapy is available at East West Books, 78 Fifth Avenue, 243-5994.


Slather Up

Say the word "spa" and you might conjure up images of being slathered with exotic muds and fragrant potions, having your muscles squeezed into submission by some buff hunk of a massage therapist, and luxuriously sweating out the city's grime in fragrant steam baths. But keep going— underneath all those images of bliss, is there not just a teensy bit of apprehension, especially if you've never actually been to a spa? Do you really want to be naked and muddy in a big room full of perfect strangers? Don't the tile-and-glass caverns you've seen in magazines look just a little— well, cold?

Fear not: Dawn Burrowes of Body Essentials Day Spa and Ayurvedic Center has the antidote for spa anxiety, tucked away on unlikely-but-convenient West 36th Street. The waiting area evokes your favorite aunt's cozy upstairs den— complete with beanbag chairs and real cookies (not those fat-free aberrations), and the treatment rooms and shower are completely private. Elizabeth Arden's Red Door it ain't, but I like it better. Add certified Ayurvedic practitioners (Ayurveda is the 5000-year-old traditional health and medicinal practice of India, pretty much the granddaddy of holistic health sciences) offering consultations, guidance, and treatment, and you've got Body Essentials. After years as an aesthetician at Manhattan's famed Peninsula Spa, Burrowes, who is Caribbean American, also wanted to create a place where the skin-care needs of women of color (often different from those of Caucasians) would be addressed. In hiring an aesthetician from Tibet and applying her own expertise, she's done just that. Body Essentials offers various package deals encompassing massage, an assortment of facials, scrubs, and body wraps, Ayurvedic services, and even detoxification therapy, all also available à la carte. An hour under the magic hands of massage therapist Eagle was the epitome of bliss, and after an intriguing, in-depth Ayurvedic consultation with Dr. Patel, who generated a detailed dietary plan and prescribed herbs for what ails me, I'm hooked.

— Holly Mcwhorter

Body Essentials Day Spa and Ayurvedic Center, 11 West 36th Street, fourth floor, 465-2220


Fusion Stretch

"Up dog! Down dog!" Canine commands, right? No, terms for two of the many positions included in a new cross-training technique, Yogilates. A hybrid of hatha yoga and the Joseph Pilates technique, Jonathan Urla's blend has quickly gained a reputation as an ultimate mind/body/spirit exercise. Originally geared toward dancers aiming to improve performance and prevent injury, classes now cater to ballerinas and clumsy pedestrians alike. Enthusiasts boast tremendous improvements in posture, muscle tone, flexibility, and mental alertness.

Creator Urla— with his chiseled, statuesque physique, soothing voice, and attentive, instructive manner— provides persuasive evidence. "The beauty of these classes is that students of all levels will benefit. Combining the two methods allows beginning students to progress much faster and to accomplish goals more fully than when using one method alone." He mixes hatha yoga with Pilates because he finds the practice of Pilates alone too restrictive and overly pedantic. The addition of yoga reduces rigidity and helps to connect movements with breath. Conversely, Pilates helps to attain the strength and alignment that yoga neglects.

A typical class begins with simple exercises that deepen and lengthen the breath. Floor exercises revolve around the concept of a "pelvic clock," which helps to relax clenched muscles and strengthen inner abdominals.

Linking subtle movements to specific breathing techniques assists in reducing stress, gaining control, improving flexibility, and increasing full body awareness. Urla insists, "After establishing strength in the abdomen and pelvis, overall body strength and perfect alignment will come naturally." I'm still working on the dog commands.

Jessica Guarnaschelli

Yogilates 72nd Street Studios, 131 West 72nd Street, 996-7088, Saturday 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.; Synergy Health Club, 1438 Third Avenue, 996-7088, Wednesday at 7 a.m., $15 per class; World Gym, 1926 Broadway, 874-0942, Saturday at 4 p.m.

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