Taking the have a long, hot soak in the tub is seen as a luxury for most of us. But in an era when the saying ‘health is wealth’ rings true, looking after our body from top-to-toe has moved up the priority list. Body care is on the rise, so it’s unsurprising that bathing is making a comeback.
The art of bathing goes back centuries and across the world almost every country has its own ritualistic approach. In Japan, it’s not uncommon to bathe once or twice a day and outdoor communal bathing – also known as rotenburo – is championed by hotels, magazine and even has its own TV programme. Over in Finland, the saying ‘the sauna is the poor man’s apothecary’ still remains prevalent as the country has almost as many saunas as it does inhabitants. It’s strongly believed that sweating it out in a sauna not only provides a full body cleanse, but also helps you to relax. The ritual is usually finished with a roll in the snow too.
While each bathing ritual differs in terms of splashing, steaming or immersing your body in water, they all share one common belief: water is sacred. It has the power to cleanse you both physically, mentally and emotionally. Your own bath might not look like it has the ability to transform your mental state right now, but taking inspiration from traditional bathing rituals can make a surprising difference…
How to up your bathing game
When it comes to a relaxing bath we usually look to a nourishing bath oil or soothingly scented bubble bath, you might even light a candle to set the mood. The Wiccans rely on just two ingredients: water and salt. It is believed that these alone are enough to cleanse your body and clear your mind. Salt baths are widely applauded for their health benefits, in particular magnesium salt baths for those with achy muscles and joints or if you struggle to sleep. For this we recommend Better You Original Flakes, £9.95.
If this doesn’t quite tick your box, it might be worth taking inspiration from Peru where people sprinkle flower petals into the water to help ward off evil spirits and channel positive energy. Rose might be the most renowned flower for this, but you can also use the flowers from peppermint, sage, thyme and rosemary.
And, if you’re looking for a results driven rather than aesthetically pleasing bath, seaweed could be the answer. Atlantic Seaweed Bath, £10.50, works on two levels to sooth dry skin as well as alleviate aches and pains.
For those who don’t have a bath…
‘Not all of my patients have a bath, so I always recommend bathing their feet instead,’ says Hayo’u founder and Chinese Medicine expert Katie Brindle. ‘It has a heritage and practice of its own throughout China as full-body bathing was often preserved for the elite.’
‘Chinese medicine believes that soaking the feet is an efficient manner of detoxification as the slight raise in body temperature unblocks energy channels,’ adds Katie. Plus, all you need is a humble washing up bowl and some good bath salts. For this we recommend Hayo’u Bath Rite Bath Minerals, £42, of course.
Interestingly, your feet have points that correspond to many parts and organs of the body. In fact, there are six meridians (liver, gall bladder, kidney, spleen and stomach), each of which has more than 60 acupuncture points that can help release tension in these areas.
Spiritual bathing for the time-pressed
Whether it’s a bath or a foot soak, not all of us have time to switch off completely and relax for 15 minutes. But that’s not to say showering is any less effective. In fat, it’s been proven that we have some of how most profound thoughts in the shower. When it comes to alleviating your shower, there are plenty of products that help to re-energise or relax you, depending on the time of day. Our current favourite is Dr Hauschka Lemongrass Vitalising Body Wash, £14 – it’s might not be new, but it definitely wakes you up mentally in the morning.
And something for your home…
The Maya have a basil floor-washing ritual that they do to ward off envy or when they’re feeling down on their luck. You simply sweep or sprinkle the entrance to your and around your house with basil-infused water for nine consecutive days, starting on a Thursday or Friday. While it’s unlikely to have the same recharging benefits as any of the above, it could be a good addition to your spring clean…