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A Toast to Therapeutic Bathing

Oh, Ayurveda… you had me at “therapeutic baths”. A bath requires you to slow down and be still. To be cradled by soothing warmth. To float in the loving hands of water. Sometimes, a therapeutic bath is all you need to recalibrate your whole self.

I remember once, arriving in Ojai for an appointment with my teacher. She was living in an orange grove at the time, surrounded by citrus blossoms and nature and the sounds of birds and orange globes of fresh fruit hanging in the trees. Meanwhile, I had just driven up from noisy LA, super stressed and depleted, surrounded by traffic, sirens, and busyness all the time.

For me, at that time, my life was bartending at night in order to have as much time as possible during the day for auditions, while also teaching yoga in the mornings. It was not easy and very depleting and very disruptive to my sleep schedule, general well-being, and sense of self. We started talking, I immediately burst into tears, and Mela put me right into a bath. I was thinking, "Um... really? A bath? I could do this at home. Aren't we supposed to talk or counsel more, or something else?" But the proof was in the pudding. This was exactly the medicine I needed in that moment and she knew it.

The bath was green - the color of healing, of harmony, of life itself, and it is a cooling, soothing color for Pitta which I have a lot of in my constitution and which, along with Vata, was definitely kicked up in this moment. It smelled of nature - the scents of the forest like cedar and fir which calm feelings of anxiousness and stress. It was epsom salt-based which helps soothe tension in the body. It was warm and moist, peaceful and slow. Most importantly, it disrupted the go-go-go-ness of the city and anxiety and driving and doing and forced me to get slow-slow-slow. It calmed my mind, my body, and my energy, and felt like the best magic ever.

Ever since, I've used baths as my own healing ritual. If I'm feeling mucousy or dull or very cold, I use a mustard bath and come out sweating and rosy like I've just spent 20 minutes in a Finnish sauna. I like this one. If I'm feeling anxious or stressed, I pour in epsom salts and add a few drops of lavender or rose essential oil, and turn the lights down low. I might use candlelight, or turn our nightlight to a particular color for some color therapy. And for that green forest bath like the one I described, I like Batherapy, but it's become quite hard to find these days. And sometimes, I'll play music without words - anything instrumental and calming. Other times, I'll play nature sounds, or miracle tones, or simply rest in the quiet.

On hot days, in the summer or after beekeeping or during a backpacking trip, into the ocean or stream I go. The best medicine for me on these days is to soak out the heat, to float weightlessly above the earth's floor, to be held by the water, caressed by its ripples, soothed by its embrace.

So, a toast! To bathing, warm or cool! When will you take one next and what extra medicine will you give yourself?

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