With the stress of the holidays behind us and the coldest days of the season ahead, January in Chicago is a daunting affair. The winds and snow can make even the most dazzling sights lose their luster, and it’s easy to hunker down instead of braving the weather. But don’t be fooled by wind chills and flurries; Chicago in the winter is as amazing as any other season. And after the holiday frenzy of friends and family, this is the best time to discover all of the delightful ways to relax in this winter wonderland.

Start your day with an invigorating yoga session-a workout that will warm you up and leave you relaxed. There are small yoga studios cropping up all over the city, but there’s no reason to stretch out in a local storefront when you can practice your asanas in style-head downtown to the financial district to Akal Yoga Studio

Akal Yoga is an established studio located at the landmark Board of Trade Building on West Jackson. Frequented by many employees of the financial district, Akal Yoga focuses on relaxation and stress reduction. The welcoming, laid-back atmosphere is perfect for the returning yogi and newcomers alike. Mats, blocks, and everything else you need are provided, allowing you travel light. Dropping in on a class costs just $20.00, but for an extra $5.00 first-time visitors can try unlimited classes for a week. After the 90-minute classes be sure to refresh with some fresh coconut milk straight from the nut for just $3.00.

Warmed and refreshed, head to Water Tower Place for the ultimate in relaxation: an afternoon at the spa. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing massage, a refreshing facial, or simply time away from the stress of home and work, there’s nothing like a day spa. Like a mini-vacation, a trip to the spa is a little luxury that allows you to simply get away from it all.

Located next to the Ritz Carlton in Water Tower Place, Kiva Day Spa is an oasis in the wintertime bustle. With a well-stocked shop on the first floor and a friendly, well-trained staff Kiva is immediately welcoming. Whether you’re a spa regular or getting your first massage, the atmosphere is comfortable and fun.

Kiva offers everything from a simple manicure to a seven hour “Transformation” spa package, and you’re almost certain to find something that fits your needs (and your budget). If you’re short on time, try a manicure or hand treatment-you don’t have to shower or strip down, but you still end up feeling great.

If you have the time, a massage is the best way to treat yourself at Kiva. Whether looking for a traditional treatment like a deep-tissue massage or something more unique like the Yon-Ka Aromatherapy. The massage rooms offer a calm sanctuary from the bustle of the streets below. Sip warm tea in the cozy waiting area before your massage, and relax as you are led down the quiet hall to your massage room.

After your massage enjoy another glass of tea or cool spring water before returning to the changing room. It’s well-stocked with brand-name products, letting clients try some of the items that are sold in the shop below.

After you’re showered and dressed, head down from the upper sanctuary to the shop downstairs. Winters in Chicago are long, drawn-out affairs, so bring a piece of the spa home with you so you can keep pampering yourself ‘til the daffodils bloom. Some aromatherapy oil or a luxuriously soft robe is the perfect way to bring the relaxation of the spa into your everyday life.

Leaving Kiva Day Spa, a short walk across Michigan Avenue will bring you to the famous Ghiradelli Chocolate Shop. Right across from the picturesque Water Tower, this soda fountain is stocked to the rafters with delectable treats. Try a piping hot chocolate topped with rich whipped cream while you watch the world pass by the large picture windows. It’s the perfect way to ease your way back to reality after your day of luxury and relaxation.

What & Where:
Akal Yoga (141 West Jackson, Suite 750; 312-303-0090)
Kiva Day Spa
(196 E. Pearson St; 312-840-8120)
Ghiradelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop (830 N. Michigan Ave; 312- 337-9330)