Back into balance

The Chopra Center at Memorial Health has a new location. Once on the Memorial Health campus, the center has a spacious new home at 300 Bull St.

The center has two entrances -- one off Bull Street, the other off the DeSoto Hilton Hotel entrance courtyard. “That provides easy access for clients who park in the hotel and for hotel guests,” Manager Jeannie Green says.

When you enter the center from the courtyard, you encounter a sign: “Please honor silence beyond this point.”

“We ask people to turn off cell phones,” Green says. “A massage is not meant to be hurried or stressful.”

The new space is located in a former bank building that has been empty for a while. The interior is elegant, but wasn’t before renovation.

“I knew the potential of the building and knew it could be converted into something incredible,” she says. “The residents of the condos above us are grateful because this is no longer a blemish. We worked with an incredible architectural firm, Hansen Architects.”

The center has a large, open space where classes in Yoga and Tai Chi are given. There also are free meditation classes offered there on Tuesday evenings.

Each massage room is different from the others. “The staff puts their own little touches in them,” Green says. “The rooms are named after the elements of the universe -- air, space, fire, water and earth.”

One of the massage rooms is particularly different. “It is not quite your typical massage room,” Green says. “The equipment is different.”

That is because the Shirodhara treatment, or Warm Oil Pour, is given there. A pot with a small opening hangs over the client’s head “A nice warm oil pours onto the forehead,” Green says. “This is meant to relax the recipient and reduce stress.”

Other treatments include the Abhyanga, or Rhythmic Oil Massage, which includes a massage performed by two therapists, followed by a hot towel treatment. The Swedana, or Herbal Steam Massage, releases tension and allows impurities to be released through the skin.

There also are traditional massages, such as relaxation, therapeutic, foot, head, aromatherapy and more.

The center provides prenatal services, including prenatal massages.

“We were located on the Memorial campus in the Rehabilitation Institute,” Green says. “That allowed us to grow and learn how to run a center for well-being. But because we were so off the beaten path, people had difficulty finding us. If they were fearful of hospitals or a hospital environment, they would not come to us to seek spa treatments.”

A lack of space also prompted the move. “If we were holding a seminar, we would have to hold it off-site, and there was no space for the yoga classes,” Green says.

The center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Green suggests calling ahead for an appointment, particularly if you want a signature treatment.

The Chopra Center first opened in April 2002. It came about after founder Deepak Chopra came to Savannah to speak in Memorial Health’s Community Lecture Series.

During a conversation with Memorial Health CEO Bob Colvin, Chopra learned about Memorial Health’s vision of opening a wellness center. “A team went out to California to see what he was doing in San Diego, Calif.,” Green says.

There, the team saw Chopra’s cardiovascular, oncology, Creating Health and childbirth education classes. “It was more than programs offering Yoga and Feng Shui,” Green says. “It was not fluff, it was something meaningful that people could practice in their daily lives.”

So The Chopra Center came to Savannah. Green says treatments are not as expensive as some people think.

“It doesn’t cost a lot,” she says. “It involves becoming mindful of what we eat, what environment we live in. If you live a continually stressful life, eventually it will lead to cardiovascular problems, diabetes and abnormal cell changes. We bring people back into balance. If you are constant fight or flight mode, it will have a negative effect.”

A student discount is offered for students with a valid ID. “We have a lot of students in Savannah who have very small budgets,” Green says.

Tuesday’s meditation session is offered free. “Anybody can walk in and take part in the meditation session,” Green says. “It is wonderful at the very end of the day to have a 20-minute meditation session.”

So far, most health insurance policies do not provide coverage for services offered at The Chopra Center. “We don’t file insurance here,” Green says. “Clients pay up front, then file, if their insurance covers it. You don’t need a physician’s referral to come here.

“I feel, over time, insurance companies will begin to see the importance of using integrated medicine.” she says. “Especially now, when we see drugs such as Vioxx that have such catastrophic side effects associated with them. Instead of taking drugs for arthritis, take yoga and increase flexibility and motion.”

The Chopra Center at Memorial Health is now at 300 Bull St. Call 236-2131 or 1-866-724-6772. For more information, e-mail

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