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The Well Defined Questionnaire with Channa Cius, Spa Owner and Director of Rhizophora Spa

Discover how this spa entrepreneur focuses on her circadian rhythm to stay on track.

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A seasoned spa entrepreneur with a passion for wellness and holistic care, Channa Cius, spa owner and director of Rhizophora Spa at the Goldwynn Resort and Residences in the Bahamas, began her career working in the hospitality industry before opening her own spa. In 2006, she worked as a concierge at the Mandara Spa Atlantis, where her dedication and commitment quickly propelled her to the role of spa supervisor and group coordinator of the One and Only Ocean Club Spa. Her love of learning led Cius to pursue a massage therapy course at the Bahamas Vocational Technical Institute in the evenings while she continued to work full time. She was eventually promoted to the position of spa manager in 2009, where she gained additional managerial experience. At the same time, she began studying esthetics at the Bahamas Technical Institute and nailcare at R.N.S. Institute.

Cius then seized the opportunity to open Windrose Spa at Compass Point Beach Resort in the summer of 2012. She also worked at the Sandals Royal Bahamian. In 2014, she transitioned to self-employment, running Windrose Spa and partnering with brands such as Cinque Mondes, Pevonia, and Sanitas. Again, her pursuit of knowledge led her to seek out additional educational opportunities, including getting her ITEC certification at Atelier Esthetic in New York and Thai massage at Wat Pho, one of the world’s oldest massage schools in Thailand. She received certifications from the Chopra Center and Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), and she deepened her wellness expertise with training in Abhyanga massage and Shirodhara therapy at the Sivananda Ashram on Paradise Island. Most recently, Cius opened Rhizophora Spa, where she places a strong focus on training to ensure guests are treated to the highest quality of service. Here, she shares the role holistic wellness plays in her own life.

What are your favorite things to do to maintain your personal wellbeing?

The daily practice that resonates with me is mindfulness. Through meditation, I find that being mindful helps me stay present, reduces anxiety, and increases self-awareness. I also enjoy spending time in nature, and I am fortunate to live in the Bahamas near the beach, which affords me the opportunity to go on morning beach walks with my dogs and family. Nassau, Bahamas, has always been my home, and I grew up walking barefoot both indoors and outdoors. Now known as earthing, or a way of grounding oneself, this is my way of keeping myself down to earth.

Another favorite thing I do to maintain my personal wellbeing is sun salutations, which I find beneficial and convenient to do anywhere. I pick up the pace when doing sun salutations if I’m feeling stagnant or slow the pace when I am feeling anxious. Cooking has also brought me a lot of joy these past few years. My perspective of cooking changed from being a task to being an important part of my wellbeing. It is a form of therapy for me, and it is how I share my time and show love to friends and family.

What is your favorite healthy food, and do you have a favorite way of preparing it?

I am a certified Chopra Center Perfect Health Coach and an IIN Health Coach, and I was introduced to many different recipes during each course. I also invested in a few cookbooks, because I love trying new recipes, especially Asian cuisine. Overall, I love the Ayurveda approach, which is cooking according to your dosha type. My favorite healthy food to prepare is basic dhal, which aids in balancing the three doshas in our system. A tridoshic diet is suitable for all three doshas, because it is universally balancing and suitable for all—whatever the age, health conditions, or weight of the individual. This is something I adapted into my lifestyle from the Chopra Center Perfect Health Retreat I attended in 2018.

To prepare, use a four-quart soup pot, place lentils and enough vegetable stock or water to cover them, plus three inches of liquid. Bring the lentils to a boil until the foam rises. At regular intervals, remove foam from the top and discard. This helps reduce gas and aid digestion. To enhance flavor, add cumin, asafetida, turmeric, and kombu to the lentils as they simmer. Cook the lentils for approximately one hour until tender. Add a curry paste, preferably from scratch, to the cooked lentils, and simmer together for five to 10 minutes. Stir until well heated. Serve with steamed basmati rice and steamed vegetables for a simple, delicious, and healthy meal.

What is your idea of balanced healthy happiness?

This is an ongoing journey, and I try to embrace every stage of my life. Being grateful for what I have allows me to focus on the present and, in turn, has allowed my blessings to multiply. I recently closed Windrose Spa, which was a little cottage I operated for 10 years at Compass Point Beach Resort. Within a year of my spa closing, I was blessed with an opportunity to open the new Rhizophora Spa at Goldwynn Resort. During this transition process, I became engaged and a part of an instant family. My fiancé, Thomas, has two beautiful daughters, Emma and Alyssa, and I have a business portfolio that is now expanding. In addition, I have three fur babies, two dogs, Chai and Chocolat, and my cat, Chia. Therefore, I am learning to do things only I can do and delegate the other tasks that don’t necessarily require my time. It’s a blessing to have an amazing team of professionals employed at the spa, and I am grateful that I have a partner at home who assists with some of the household duties. I also have great friends who I can lean on to assist with personal challenges. I’m finding my balanced healthy happiness by prioritizing my health first, because I am better at being of service to others when my cup is full.

Do you have a secret health or wellness tip you would like to share?

The wellness tip I would like to share is the importance of focusing on the circadian rhythm. This is an ancient practice that I truly believe allows you to have a healthy, long life. My morning and evening routine keeps me in touch with my circadian rhythm. I consistently wake up at 5:00am, and I fall asleep by 9:30pm. Being an early bird, waking early is easy and is the best time for me to jump into mental and physical activities. Paying attention to my internal body clock allows me to recognize when my circadian rhythm is out of sync. Small changes in our lives affect this rhythm, such as traveling, spending too much time in front of screens, or having an irregular bedtime routine and eating schedule. This awareness is key to making the subtle adjustments to get back on track whenever I feel out of balance.

What aspect of your wellbeing do you struggle with the most, or would most like to improve?

I’m adjusting my intake of caffeine and alcohol, because I find that it is easy to indulge in these pleasures during celebrations, travel, and when it is time to de-stress. As I get older, I find that my body needs more attention to nourishment. It feels better and more energized when I consume smoothies and cold press juices. Doing more detox cleanses and fasting also helps me improve my wellbeing.

What wellness-related books or authors do you recommend, and why?

There are four books that changed my wellness journey. In The Beauty Detox Solution: Eat Your Way to Radiant Skin, Renewed Energy, and the Body You’ve Always Wanted, Kimberly Snyder shares knowledge on age-old beauty secrets and an effective program that I’ve used a few times to help my body remove toxins and help me feel amazing. Metaphysical Anatomy: Your Body is Talking, Are You Listening? Volume 1, by Evette Rose, was a game changer for me in terms of understanding causes of emotional, mental, and physical ailments that stem from our ancestry, conception, birth, and childhood. I’ve recommended this book many times, and it has helped me help others with their healing journey. You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hays, was one of the first books I read on my wellness journey after recommendations from other people. Eventually, someone loaned me a copy because they believed that it would serve me well, and it did. The insights and exercises have helped me evolve mentally. Eat-Taste-Heal: An Ayurvedic Cookbook for Modern Living, by Thomas Yarema, Daniel Rhoda, and Johnny Brannigan, is an interesting book written by a medical doctor, a patient, and an acclaimed chef. I use it as a guide, as it was intended to create harmony within by using common foods and healthy lifestyle practices as medicine.

Is there a specific fitness activity that you love and why?

My favorite fitness activity is walking daily. It is the easiest and most beneficial thing anyone can do at no cost. Being in nature and getting vitamin D from the sun fuels my body. I dedicate 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening for a daily walk. In addition to my fitness activity, doing yoga helps with increasing flexibility, improving my breathing and energy levels, and enhancing muscle tone.  

What is your favorite place for a healthy vacation or escape?

Even though I have traveled to many countries, after a month, I look forward to returning home to The Bahamas. During my travels, I prioritize finding a spa to have a massage before I return home. This helps me relax, and it is an opportunity for me to possibly learn about new modalities and services to incorporate at my spa.

My favorite place for a healthy vacation is a staycation at home in The Bahamas. This affords me the opportunity to do various things like focusing on my wellbeing. I’m so grateful that I was born in the Bahamas and that I’ve lived here all my life. There is a Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat located on Paradise Island, and it’s a five-minute boat ride across from Nassau. I take advantage of attending yoga classes and enrolling in various wellness courses. The retreat also provides a lovely vegetarian meal that is prepared fresh daily, and the bonus is I have access to a beautiful beach. My staycation usually ends with a wonderful spa experience at Rhizophora Spa and that would be the last thing I do before returning to work. This way, I feel refreshed and energized to continue doing what I love.

Is there a particular wellness company or brand that truly impresses you with their efforts and why?

There are two brands that embody the culture of what we believe at Rhizophora Spa. Voya and Biologique Recherche are two companies that have impressed me with their efforts, their brand story, their attention to clean products, and their way of providing inclusivity through service and products that are safe for those affected by cancer and women going through menopause. I designed Rhizophora Spa to be a holistic ecosystem, where one can stabilize and maintain their wellbeing through the power of touch, ancient rituals, and mind-body wellness technologies.

What is your favorite self-care routine?

My favorite self-care routine is a combination of practices to maintain my skin and body. In the morning, I enjoy dry skin brushing to eliminate dead skin and stimulate blood flow. Daily self-massage nourishes my skin. I get a facial and body treatments once a quarter, and I can’t resist a monthly pedicure.

About The Author
Heather-Mikesell-author-1

Heather, co-founder of Well Defined and the former editor-in-chief of American Spa, is an award-winning journalist and content strategist, skilled in writing, copyediting, and media relations. She is also a freelance writer and has contributed to Elite Traveler, Islands, Kiwi, Luxury Travel Advisor, Organic Spa, Porthole Cruise, Travel Agent, abcnews.com, jetsetter.com, outside.com, and wellandgood.com, in addition to various custom publications. She is frequently called upon to comment on various spa and wellness trends for various media outlets.