In the Congress Park neighborhood, beneath the Colorado School of Chinese Medicine, lies a sanctuary unknown to many yet revered by those in the know. Since its establishment in 1995, Izba Spa has become a discreet retreat for wellness enthusiasts—including celebrated figures like Celine Dion, Avs players, and even performers with Cirque du Soleil—offering a unique slice of Russian tradition in Denver.
Here, the banya—a traditional Russian sauna—isn’t just a room of high temperatures and high humidity; it’s a private, two-person realm where intense heat transforms into a healing ritual.
My guide on this transformative odyssey was Yuki Tojo, a skilled therapist who blends expertise in Russian body therapy with insightful wisdom. “This treatment is meant for actively inclined people,” Tojo says, setting the tone for an experience that challenges yet comforts. My journey began in a salt room, where the air itself seemed to cleanse my lungs, followed by a soothing soak in a hot tub, preparing my body and mind for what was to come.
Then, after a massage, the banya. The heat is intense—more than intense. It’s almost unbearable. Let it envelop you, not just as a physical sensation but as a passage to a state of heightened awareness. In this blisteringly hot, straw-melting haven, Tojo introduced me to venik, bundles of oak leaves that he smacks against body from neck to toes to drive the heat deeper into the skin to promote better circulation. “The branches press the steam further into your body and unblock toxins, which you then sweat out,” he explains. This ancient heat-stress technique, far from being a mere physical ritual, works to release fat-stored toxins in the body, ushering in a sense of deep purification.
Next, I’m slathered in honey for its skin moisturizing and purifying qualities before my experience suddenly shifts. The intense heat gives way to an exhilarating cool down as Tojo pours a bucket of cold water over my hot, sweating body. This contrast is not just physically invigorating but mentally liberating. It’s a moment of clarity, a pause that refreshes and resets. I leave the treatment journey feeling not just physically rejuvenated but totally uplifted.
Izba Spa tailors treatments ranging from an hour to three hours, all incorporating the transformative power of the banya and techniques like venik brushing. For those seeking a shared experience, the Couple’s Deluxe Treatment is a journey not to be endured alone but savored together.