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Creating healthier spaces at home

by: Vern Uyetake, Diane Bays takes a time-out to sit in the far infrared sauna within the relaxation room of Healthy Spaces in West Linn. These saunas use far infrared light — part of the invisible light spectrum that makes natural sunlight beneficial and healthy. UV rays are not used as far infrared signals penetrate the skin and reach deep into muscles to raise the temperature, increase circulation and stimulate sweat glands.

For many, autumn is a time to cocoon indoors as the weather cools. Diane Bays, owner of Healthy Spaces in West Linn, encourages homeowners to take this time inside to improve the quality of life within homes and daily routines. Chronic back pain, as well as a love for both education and business led Bays on a search for remedies and a path to wellness.

A decade ago Bays began a home-based business as a Wellness Home Consultant for Nikken, Inc. - a Japanese wellness company. Healthy Spaces is an expansion of her desire to help customers understand how to create a healthy home environment year round.

Cutting edge technologies line the shelves of the store, in downtown Willamette. And Bays said she is committed to educating her clients while providing friendly customer service. Throughout the store, postings with quotes and frequently asked questions are visible.

The store draws people from all over, she said, wanting to improve their health through lifestyle changes - air purifiers, light therapy, detoxification treatments, and simple gadgets for cell phones and sporting events.

'It's my goal to help empower people to find ways to care for themselves at home,' said Bays. 'I've discovered some things that can be incorporated into your daily life. Of course you're still going to see your practitioner, your massage therapist and your chiropractor, but there are things you can do at home.'

Change from the inside out

The relaxation room at the rear of the store offers services through thermal massage beds, chi machines, massage techniques and a far infrared sauna. This way, Bays said, customers can 'try before they buy' or just rent our the room for relaxation or parties.

While it looks like an ordinary sauna, the far infrared sauna located in the corner of the room doesn't reach the high temperatures of traditional saunas, which can be uncomfortable and dangerous.

'For many people, the intensity of the heat from a traditional sauna is too much and gets uncomfortable. This is a different concept,' Bays said. 'In Asia they call it a thermal therapy unit and in Europe they call them health cabins. Either way they help aches and pains, with relaxation, athletes to loosen up after competition or speed the recovery if injured.'

Far infrared light is part of the invisible spectrum that makes natural sunlight beneficial and healthy, without the ultraviolet rays. Far infrared signals penetrate the skin and reach deep into muscles to gently raise the temperature, increase circulation and stimulate sweat glands without raising the body temperature to uncomfortable levels, according to the Healthy Spaces Web site.

'It's a form of light energy that's felt as heat and it's very tuned into our bodies own infrared wavelength we all emit,' Bays said. 'Heat is emitted in the same wavelength our body absorbs. Your body will receive it in a sympathetic or friendly way. It's very detoxifying.'

Light a new life

Bright light illuminates from one shelf in the store. The source - about the size of a book - is the Litebook.

'People are just drawn to it,' said Bays. 'I put it in the window and people come in.'

Used as a way to boost energy through bright light exposure, the Litebook is designed to heighten alertness and energy for those affected by seasonal mood changes.

'Most of us suffer from sunlight starvation,' said Bays. 'Gloomy days, rain and snow obstruct the sun's healing rays and dampen our mood. That's why full spectrum lighting is so essential.'

Approximately five percent of North Americans experience Seasonal Affective Disorder and experience a shift in mood as seasons change.

Nicknamed the 'Winter Blues,' people typically experience symptoms of fatigue, lack of concentration, irritability, carbohydrate cravings, weight gain, social withdrawal and low libido, she said.

'You sit with (the Litebook) at an angle when you're checking your email first thing in the morning, watching the news, having breakfast, putting on your makeup. You just incorporate it into your morning routine,' said Bays. 'The bulbs last about 100,000 hours - longer than anyone will ever need light.'

The Litebook should be positioned a foot to two feet away from the person's face early in the morning. It's designed at an angle just like the suns rays coming through a window.

And one dose does it; if used later in the day it may affect sleep patterns.

'(The Litebook) is like a dose of light therapy,' Bays said. 'Instead of taking Prozac in the morning you take a dose of light therapy.'

The store also offers full-spectrum light bulbs to create a feeling of natural light at home. And they can be used all day safely, she said.

Bays formed the Willamette Wellness Community - a group of Willamette-area businesses focused on promoting health and wellness for individuals, families and communities. Members include acupuncturists, massage therapists, foot specialists, counselors, hypnosis practitioners and organic clothing boutiques.

'We do have wellness within walking distance. There's some kind of interesting energy in Willamette - I don't know what it is,' said Bays. 'There's so much interesting history here. … And I can walk to work and help people. It's great.'

Healthy Spaces is located at 1833 Willamette Falls Drive in West Linn. The shop can be reached by phone at 503-655-3565. The Web site can be viewed at www.healthyspacesonline.com.

Fall hours are: Tuesday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., closed Sundays. After hours appointments are available.

For more information about the Willamette Wellness Community, visit the Web site at www.willamettewellness.com.