The Santa Rosa Spa Scene: Well Sonoma

Aug 6, 2019

As a latecomer to self-care, I have understandably grasped on to the idea as tightly as if I’d discovered it myself…much like my reaction to, say, hearing Radiohead’s OK Computer album back in the day. Unlike that album, however, I sometimes have trouble pushing ‘play’ on my self-care intentions. But very much like the album, once I do, I want to share it with the world. 

I’m not going to bore you with the things that keep me from doing nice things for myself on a regular basis. Okay, okay, you convinced me! Here are a couple: Time (I mean, you’re talking to someone who has to really consider whether or not to use her new Sonicare toothbrush because it takes 3 minutes. THREE MINUTES! I know; I am ridiculous); Cost (I understand the concept that I’m worth spending money on and all of that, but it’s still a lot and there are groceries to be bought, you know?)

There is also the hugely wide range of definitions for self-care, from lounging by the pool with a magazine drinking a frothy cocktail (someone has access to a pool in this scenario), to bunking up at an Ashram for a meditation retreat with your favorite aura-reader. 

In general, I like a manicure now and then, with some time to read my book thrown in here and there. 

That being said, I have been actively trying to engineer more time in my day to practice getting to know myself again. One might call this ‘connection’, and one might be right on the money. My daily anchors of meditation, journaling and Pilates were going great for a while, but first the meditation got spotty (this is what I get for trying to bring my sweetheart in to the fun…we have scheduling issues), then my Pilates semester ended and my body seemed to immediately and completely forget the fact that we did that activity twice a week for 5 full months. The journaling is solid though; don’t worry. 

But the desire and, I guess you could say ‘understated desperate search’, are still there, which is why I was so thrilled to find Well Sonoma, a collective of holistic practitioners in downtown Santa Rosa, California, practically sitting in my backyard just waiting for me to walk in and hear the angels buddhas singing.

This welcoming upper-level space is lined with yoga studios on one side, practitioners’ offices on the other. During my visits I received a facial, craniosacral and visceral manipulation, acupuncture sessions and a communications and TRE sessions. Still to come are yoga, and perhaps more yoga.

For my facial I met with Katrina Matos, who talked with me about how she approaches skincare, which was a refreshing reassurance from some of my fears. Yes, I know having fears around getting a facial might seem odd, but as soon as Katrina explained that she doesn’t do the ‘chemical peel’ style of skincare, I felt my shoulders relax a good two inches. The words ‘chemical’ and ‘peel’ are two I don’t want describing what is happening to my face. 

Instead, Katrina treated me to a very relaxing, gentle organic facial using all-natural products, many of which she creates herself with a respectful attention to implementing all good things – nothing harmful, in short. While yes, I was in the ‘getting a facial’ zone, I still managed to catch a few key phrases as Katrina explained everything she was using on my skin, such as ‘soaked in tea leaves’ and ‘food grade’ which, to me, meant it would be just as safe inside my body as it is on my face, which made me very happy. 


The rest of my treatments involved some vulnerability and trust on my part, maybe because of the afore-mentioned slow-roll into allowing myself the space and time to notice and care for myself. 

After a friendly intake and intro with Alicia Berg, I lay on her table and tried to both relax and ask questions about what, exactly, visceral manipulation even was. In a nutshell, it is a gentle stretching of muscles and realigning of the internal organs as a result, so that they can better function. Okay, yes please! I mean listen: I don’t really know what’s going on ‘in there’, but I do know that sometimes I feel all bleh and meh and I don’t really know why. After my manipulation (which was focused around my heart – will self-analyze later!) and some gentle craniosacral work, I left feeling very balanced and aligned, better able to hold my head high and breathe more deeply. 

Now let’s talk about acupuncture, shall we? Dr. Lorelle Saxena is…I mean, how do I even describe her? She is basically an oracle of goodness and comfort. What I thought would be a pretty basic Q & A info sesh before she got to work on me turned out to in fact be a very unexpected but for some reason not at all embarrassing Cry Fest 2019. One minute she’s asking me if there’s anything I’d like to focus on, and the next I’m crying and telling her about how much I loved my camp as a kid. What the actual eff, Amanda?! 

That being said, Lorelle gave me her full attention and empathy, and without even trying made me feel better about life in general. She explained what she was doing, what areas the needles were going into and why, and what to expect afterward. I tried to take a picture of my legs all full of needles, but in the process I knocked one out of my forehead, which sent it onto my eyelid, so I had to lay very, very still and therefore did not get the picture. Pro tip: don’t try to take pictures when you’re full of needles, okay? Just lay there, relax, and enjoy the napportunity. 

Okay I did get one of my arm, though!

Finally, meeting with Communications Coach/TRE Provider Kristi Dee Doden was a fantastic surprise. I wasn’t sure what to expect beforehand, but Kristi immediately put me at ease with a wealth of information about her communication coaching and how she helps people with their communication styles for a more positive outcome, taking into account their background, past, current environmental situations, all of that good stuff. The whole time she was talking, my brain was going *bing!* *bing!* *bing!* because I could relate to so much of what was being discussed. I love it when that happens!

After that, she explained the TRE – or Tension Release Exercise System – part of her practice. Meant to relieve tension, stress and negative physical patterns, TRE can help with clarity, productivity, even interpersonal communication abilities. 

We went through a series of simple exercises meant to warm up the somewhat elusive yet all-powerful psoas muscle, in preparation for some personal table work which would help it to release. This isn’t always easy to do, but Kristi said with practice it becomes easier, and of course each person’s body and therefore abilities/reaction is different. What I can tell you is that, for me, it was intense! In a good way. I came home and said “whew! That was a workout!” while patting myself on the back and planning when I could practice it again. 

Having met with just a few of the warm, sincere and highly accomplished practitioners at Well Sonoma, I cannot even believe how lucky we here in Santa Rosa are to have them working and healing among us. Plus there’s yoga! And massage therapy! And cancer wellness! And Chinese medicine! And free delicious tea! I could go on….

Whether you live here all the time or are vacationing in Sonoma County, California and want some extra indulgence, I hope this article, or your curiosity, or your desire to take really exquisite care of yourself inside and out leads you to Well Sonoma. 




  1. Lorelle Saxena

    August 8th, 2019 at 2:44 pm

    We love having you here, Amanda! Come back for more tea and *bing!*s and goodness, anytime. You’re part of our community and we’re here for you!

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