A prime tool for achieving a less stressful, more centered and happy life.

By Kat Tudor

Rooted in cultures and civilizations thousands of years old, meditation is “in” again. According to Forbes, businesses such as Google, Aetna and the Goldman Sachs Group offer mindful living programs for employees. Scientists have found that as little as 12 minutes a day of meditation over a two-month period can change the physical structure of the brain, and help you process information more efficiently, as well as reduce insomnia, manage anxiety and lead to a happier, more fulfilled life.

Mindfulness Meditation

At the SunWater Spa and the new SunMountain Center, in Manitou Springs, Colorado, developing mindful living is at our core; meditation is a prime tool for achieving a less stressful, more centered life. If you aren’t in our neighborhood, here are tips to help you start an at-home practice. A key: allow yourself to breathe.

  1. Begin with a 5-minute session. Gradually work up to 15-20 minutes.
  2. Relax before you begin. Yoga and a gentle neck self-massage can put you in the mood; comfortable clothing also helps.
  3. Set your timer before you begin. You don’t want to interrupt the “zone” by glancing at your clock.
  4. Find a distraction-free zone in your home, office or yard. The book, Altar Your Space, A Guide To The Restorative Home, is filled with tips on creating a peaceful space.
  5. Relax and be consciously aware of your exhale and inhale as your breathing quiets your mind. Here is an excellent story on breath.
  6. Don’t try to force your mind to stop thinking. This will happen naturally as your practice develops, perhaps by repeating mantras such as these.
  7. Consistency is best. Make this a daily routine.
  8. Experiment with different types of meditation: mantras, transcendental, Zen.
  9. Explore guided meditations. There are many to choose from. Freemindfulness.org provides gratis meditations at varying lengths.
  10. Relax and find the joy.

If you happen to be in Colorado, the SunWater Spa in Manitou Springs, as well as the new SunMountain Center, offer a range of meditation programs, including a Breakthrough Meditation Workshop that focuses on breath. For more information, visit www.sunwaterspa.com or www.sunmountaincenter.com.

Kat Tudor is the founder and creative director of SunWater Spa in Manitou Springs, Colorado, as well as the founder and visionary behind SunMountain Center, a premiere wellness retreat in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.

    On Thursday, October 18, SunWater Spa will host a special yoga class, designed to benefit the Colorado Springs Down Syndrome Association. Ros Prado, a SunWater Spa yoga teacher, will lead this one-hour donation-based yoga class, which begins at 5:45 p.m.

Ros and her brother, Cairo.


Inspired by her brother, Cairo, who was born with Down syndrome, Prado hopes that the event will spread awareness, advocacy, and inclusion of individuals with the chromosomal disorder. This is the third year that she has spearheaded the event at SunWater, and the fifth in total; earlier events were held in the Miami, Florida, area.

A Passion to Serve

With the success of these events, Prado has expanded her service to those with Down syndrome. In part, she was inspired by two individuals with the disorder, both adults, who attended last year’s Downward Dog for Down Syndrome benefit.

“I was blown away with their abilities,” Prado explains. “It inspired me to question how we could we teach them professional skills so they could do more than bag groceries.”

From there, Prado created a curriculum for a three-month internship which she pitched to SunWater Spa Founders Kat Tudor and Don Goede, who whole-heartedly supported her endeavor.

Synchronicity Takes the Lead

Synchronistically, about that time, Bobbie King, attended one of Prado’s yoga classes at SunWater. King is the mother to Kory Mitchell, one of the adults with Down syndrome who attended last year’s Downward Dog event. Prado approached King with the idea about the internship, and the ball began rolling. Additionally, Mitchell’s father, Larry, is  on the board of the Colorado Springs Down Syndrome Association and feared that once Kory graduated high school she might become isolated.

Fortunately, that appears far from reality. On October 1, Kory became Ros Prado’s assistant for the Downward Dog for Down Syndrome event. Prado set the stage for Kory to learn how to fill out an application, interview, and other tasks associated with holding a job. While the internship is on a volunteer-basis, Kory will receive free classes and soaks as compensation for her efforts.

Compelling Reasons

According to the National Down Syndrome Society, approximately 6,000 babies are born with Down syndrome each year. The society also reports that “All people with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses.”

Prado hopes to emphasize the strengths and talents of these individuals through the Downward Dog event and the pilot internship program at SunWater. One day, Prado hopes to hold a teacher training for individuals with Down syndrome who wish to learn how to teach yoga.

Changing the World, One Downward Dog at a Time

 The Denver, Colorado-based Global Down Syndrome Foundation, reports that “In the U.S., Down syndrome is the least funded major genetic condition by our National Institutes of Health despite being the most frequent chromosomal disorder. Because of this, and because of lack of funding from other government organizations, there is surprisingly little known definitively about the condition.”

However, as Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Prado is just one of those committed citizens looking to inspire change in one small part of the world.

Down Syndrome Fundraiser

In addition to supporting a great cause, participants in the Downward Dog for Down Syndrome fundraiser will be eligible for a drawing with prizes from Yogi Surprise, lululemon athletics, SunWater Spa, and more. The drawing will be held immediately following the Downward Dog yoga class.

Call to reserve your spot at the Downward Dog for Down Syndrome at SunWater Spa today (719) 695-7007.


Or click here to sign up: http://bit.ly/DownDogDownSyndromeTix


by SunWater Spa Team and Sharon W. House



Pure essential oils are on the radar these days, especially with political tempers boiling and anxiety levels rising. Yes, Xanax and other pharmaceuticals are trending; however, more and more people are turning to pure essentials to help destress and calm.

Distilled from plants without the fat or oils found in cooking oils, pure essential oils are highly concentrated compounds that can be used in their pure form, through a diffuser or added to a hot bath. Essential oils have long been hailed by folk wisdom, and recent scientific research has caught up. A new study from Dr. Hideki Kashiwadani at Kagoshima University in Japan has found that “… sniffing linalool, an alcohol component of lavender odor, was kind of like popping a Valium,” in the mice that this group studied.


Ancient pharmacists and medical practitioners from Egypt to Italy and Greece utilized lavender, Frankincense and ylang ylang to help relieve their patients’ pain and anxiety. With the scientific community beginning to validate our ancestors’ claims, according to a recent Organic Spa conference, the use of these oils will continue to rise.



One of the most recognized and sweetest-smelling essential oils, lavender can be found in perfumes, bath salts and lotions. It can also be used in its pure form on pulse points or in a hot bath. In addition to relaxing users, lavender has been shown to heal scars and relieve migraines.



Gaining in popularity and revered for its scent, ylang ylang is extracted by steam distillation of fresh flowers of the ylang ylang tree, which is found in rainforests in a number of Asian and South Pacific Islands. Research published in June 2006 documents noted ylang ylang’s efficacy in helping to relieve depression and anxiety. Therapists are beginning to use the oil in massages and steam treatments.


At SunWater Spa in Manitou Springs, Colo., massage therapist Rachel Luplow uses seven essential oil blends in her 90-minute massage, Chakra Journey. “The concept behind this treatment is to use these essential oil blends from head to toe as each one is designed to balance one of the seven main chakras in the body,” Luplow explains. One of SunWater Spa’s most popular deep tissue massages, the Mountain Healer, utilizes jojoba body butter, infused with sage, lavender, spearmint, arnica and other oils to alleviate sore, tense muscles.


Whether you choose to enjoy the gentle hands of a therapist such as Luplow, or luxuriate in a warm bath perfumed with lavender or ylang ylang, the destressing benefits of pure essential oils are a welcome trend that is destined to grow.

Water often provides a healing environment for many of us. In particular, mothers-to-be may find aquatic therapies, such as Watsu and Aqua Cranial, particularly beneficial for relaxation and relief from the burden of gravity-induced discomfort as well as the mental or emotional strains associated with pregnancy.


Watsu is a gentle and supportive form of bodywork combining elements of joint mobilization, shiatsu, stretching, and dance.  During the aquatic session, the body, spine, joints, and muscles can be manipulated and freed in a way that is unique to the water.


Aqua Cranial is a gentle, nurturing, non-invasive therapy that supports the body’s nervous system and alignment, by enhancing the flow of cerebrospinal fluid. This treatment restores the natural balance of the body and is particularly powerful after accidents or trauma.


“We are all formed in an environment surrounded and supported by warm water. When we are softly held in that environment again, such as in the SunWater Spa pool, in an Aqua Cranial or Watsu treatment, we go back to that initial womb experience – mentally, emotionally, physically – which likely was deeply relaxing for most of us,” says Kathleen Morrow, SunWater Aqua Cranial therapist.


“As relaxation occurs, both mother and baby release the pleasure hormones called ‘endorphins.’” she adds.  “This is the reason births in the water, such as are being encouraged by our hospitals, are very successful.”


Mitzi Pasternak, Watsu practitioner at SunWater says, “When the mother feels safe in a practitioner’s arms, she can relax her body, and let it be moved, and stretched, allowing for physical and emotional releases. The baby also benefits by the increased blood flow and may become more active.”


Releasing Our Birth Traumas

While most Watsu or Aqua Cranial practitioners are not counselors, they are trained to be very present. “By holding the mother in the water or simply listening,” says Pasternak. “Sometimes greater awareness or a fresh perspective can arise when we’re relaxed and receptive.”


Additionally, Morrow, acknowledges some of us have had our own trauma in birth, such as the cord tangled, parental tension, mom in fear, or some diagnosed physical barrier to baby’s passage.  “This is a primary reason to start regular treatments in the water early in the pregnancy, with a therapist experienced in holding ‘presence’ with trauma,” she says. “Then the nervous systems of baby and mom will have an opportunity to process and release any patterns being held in the body.”


Timing is Everything

Watsu or Aqua Cranial treatments are good just about any time. Most experience stress release and sleep better after a treatment.


“These treatments are primary stress release tools. They help to rebalance us mentally, emotionally, and physically from the daily stresses of life,” says Morrow.


Aquatherapy treatments are not advised if the client has open sores or an infectious disease.  “Then I suggest they wait until they heal,” explains Pasternak. “Chronic ear infections and vertigo are also reasons to reschedule.”


Pasternak adds, “During the second and third trimesters, the mom has more weight to carry around, and because of this, they will experience even greater benefits from these water therapies.”


When Two or More are Gathered

“We always encourage birth partners and close family members to join the client in the water––with her permission.  Together, we support the mom, and the treatment is even more deeply healing and bonding for all,” says Morrow.


To book your Watsu or Aqua Cranial treatment, contact SunWater Spa 719-695-7007 or online at https://www.sunwellness.net/sunwater/spa/book/

Have you ever experienced an aqua cranial therapy with us? Kathleen Morrow, one of our talented practitioners, began studying the art of aqua cranial after learning of its curative properties when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Learn more about Kathleen’s journey and philosophy as a therapist in our newest blog!


1. How long have you been a craniosacral/aqua cranial practitioner, and what was the path that led you into bodywork?

Around forty years ago, my mom was diagnosed with cancer, and I started researching what could help her. A local acupuncturist told me about a school in Washington State, The Polarity Institute, where I could study under Dr. Randolf Stone, DO, ND, DC, and doctor of Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. I began my studies there and was certified as a Registered Polarity Therapist one year later.


In 1995, I met Franklyn Sills, Director of the Karuna Institute located in the United Kingdom, at a polarity therapy conference in California. After hearing his presentation on Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy.  I was convinced this was my next line of study, and began Franklyn’s intensive two-year certification program, graduating as a Registered Craniosacral Therapist (RCST) in 1997.


I continued my studies for another four years, mentoring with notables in the field, including Franklyn Sills, Dr. Michael Shea, and John and Anna Chitty, co-directors of the Boulder School of Energy Studies. I was awarded my National Teacher Certification in May of 2001, and then opened the state certified School of Inner Health (SIH) in 2002 in Manitou Springs, which specialized in teaching craniosacral, lymphatic massage, and aromatherapy. Directing and teaching at SIH became my passion for the next fifteen years. In 2016, I sold the school to a colleague in order to enjoy my semi-retirement, and I then began offering Aqua Cranial Therapy at SunWater Spa.


2. What gift does your work offer your guests? What do you want your guests to walk away feeling/thinking?


There are two schools of thought about craniosacral therapy. One is the “mechanical” model, where the practitioner’s “attention” is focused on the movement of bones in the body. These motions have a five- to six-second cycle, rocking in and out. A student can become certified in this work in five days. Practitioners are basically moving and adjusting bones, much like chiropractic.


The second school of thought began when Franklyn Sills started teaching craniosacral therapy in the U.S. in 1995. He brought to it a deeper intention of following a slower twelve-second cycle of cerebrospinal fluid as it moves along the bones. This work is about following the rhythm of the body versus making adjustments. This practice is known as Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy. A student of this work also learns to feel and hold a very slow fifty-second expansion and contraction cycle; Dr. Sutherland, one of the founders of craniosacral therapy, called this the “breath of life” (this is your life force itself). Dr. Sutherland discovered in his later years that holding and following these deeper rhythms allows the client’s fluid systems to synchronize with the practitioner’s fluid rhythms in the same way we did with our mother while in utero. This is how our bodies formed and there are no client adjustments needed.


From this place of strength and support, the client’s body will realign and heal itself from whatever bumps, blows, and imbalances there have been in this lifetime, especially concussions. The client usually drops into a deep relaxation, and when treatment is over they experience a new sense of balance with less pain. When this work is done in the beautiful, warm, natural waters at SunWater Spa, the client experiences a deep, womblike sensation while their body heals itself.


3. How would you sum up your personal philosophy or mantra?


My personal mantra is presence.


In a rapid-paced world of potential confusion and emotional upset, I hold “ground” with daily meditation and frequent walks in the woods. I also have some “grounding” tools that Franklyn Sills taught me. From this place, I’m mentally clear, able to do my work and make life decisions.


4. What is one self-care suggestion you offer to your Aqua Cranial recipients?


On a very physical balancing note, I always recommend that my clients breathe deeply, especially in times of stress, shock, or overwhelm. I suggest they stop, put their hands on their ribs, and expand the ribs into the hands with each breath. This exercise opens the diaphragm, which in turn moves fascial tissue up the body around the heart, lungs, and ultimately the brain. At the same time, the fascia below is responding and massaging around the digestive organs. In about ten breaths, a sense of mental clarity and physical relaxation occurs.


5. Based on your experience, what makes SunWater Spa stand out from other wellness centers/spas?


Of course, the beautiful, warm, health-filled mineral water is my first “go-to” for this question. And then there is a deep sense of caring for the community, starting with the owners, Kat Tudor and Don Goede, and extending throughout the staff. This sense of caring and support of community filters into the surrounding communities of Manitou and Colorado Springs. Because they feel this, our local customers return over, and over, and over again.


Kathleen Morrow

Read about Debbie Vann’s passion for skin care, personal philosophy, and tips for showing love to your skin in our March Therapist Feature! We are so fortunate to have a therapist who is committed to each guest’s individual skincare needs while also providing a relaxing and rejuvenating experience.


1. How long have you been an esthetician and what was the path that led you into skin care?

I have been practicing skin care for twenty years in the Colorado Springs area. I was drawn to skin care because of my passion and love for helping people achieve a healthy glow and realize their better selves.


2. What is your favorite part of your job as an esthetician?

My favorite part of this job is making people feel relaxed and pampered. I also enjoy providing direction to clients for a customized skin care regiments for their particular needs or concerns.


3. What gift does your work offer your guests? What do you want your guests to walk away feeling/thinking?

I thoroughly love to share my passion for skin care with guests. My diverse and comprehensive experience provides clients with a true sense of being pampered and better understanding of their individual skin.


4. What do you like to do when you’re not working? how do you like to spend your free time?

I love enjoying the beauty of Colorado and time with my family.


5. How would you sum up your personal philosophy or mantra?

My personal philosophy is to be healthy, happy, and see the good in all things.


6. What is one self-care suggestion you offer to your guests?

I recommend guests to treat their skin with the same respect they would treat any other vital part of their body.


7. Based on your experiences, what makes SunWater Spa stand out from other wellness centers/spas?
SunWater Spa is one of the few spas that encompasses a whole-person approach to wellness by providing a vast array of treatments, classes, and mineral pools.