I lived for two and a half years without running water (while living in a tipi on a commune where I bathed daily in an ice cold creek). I still marvel the blessings of hot running water for its calming and healing effects, and am careful to not be wasteful.
Soaking in a warm fragrant tub can be a sensual delight, offering time to retreat, reflect and refresh. A bath right when you come home from work can make you more pleasant to be around. If you take a bath in the middle of the day and expect to get any work done, make it cooler and shorter, or you might be too relaxed to accomplish much else. It is best to bathe at least a couple of hours after a big meal, to avoid interfering with digestion. Baths before bed aid sleep as they elevate the body’s temperature; the body will compensate by lowering its temperature, thus making one ready for sleep.
We don’t want to waste resources, so it’s not necessary to fill the tub too high. Placing a warm wet washcloth on the chest area can help infuse warmth through your body. If you use natural products, you could even collect some of the “grey water” to water the garden.
Baths can be an opportunity to merge with the herbs, or remedies of your choice.
To use herbs, or substances such as uncooked oatmeal, for the bath, simply tie a handful of either fresh or dried herbs, into a washcloth and secure with a hair tie. Use a dark cloth so you don’t stain your light colored ones. If you have a stash of clean lost “single” socks, those also work great for bath bags. Use the herb filled cloth to scrub your body as you deeply inhale the benefits. Your plumbing would prefer that you not allow bulky material to go down the drain.
An even easier way to prepare the bath would be to use five to ten drops of pure essential oil, as a substitute for the desired herb. For example you could make a bath with lavender flowers, either in a sock, or a tea, or simply add about seven drops of lavender essential oil. Add essential oils after filling the tub, so that the fragrance does not dissipate and swish before getting in so the oils are dispersed and not likely to stick on one part of your body. Close the curtain to hold in steam. Not all of these herbs are available as essential oils. Turn off the water while you floss, brush, or check email. When the bath has cooled to a comfortable temperature, get into it. If you choose to use any of the citrus products such as lemon peel, or orange essential oil, use these at night, as getting exposed to sunlight afterwards can make one more photosensitive. Also if using fresh or dried citrus peels, be sure they are organic if they are coming in contact with your skin.
Here are a few bath ideas with specific concerns in mind.
Apple Cider Vinegar Bath: This helps relieve sore muscles, itchy skin, and sunburn. Vinegar helps draw pollutants out of the body. It is an acid medium and contains alpha hydroxy acids. It is also mildly antiseptic, antifungal and naturally deodorizing.
Athlete’s Bath: Use these ingredients to relax sore aching muscles. Bay leaf, Epsom salts, eucalyptus leaves, ginger root, juniper berries, lavender flowers, marjoram herb, mustard seed powder, rosemary leaves, and sage herb.
Baking Soda Bath: This alkalinizing and detoxifying bath can help calm allergic reactions, chicken pox, eczema, hives, itchy skin, insect bites, poison ivy, sunburn, and fungal infections. Use one pound per bath.
Cold and Flu Bath: Try these bath additions when you want to soothe deep muscle aches that often accompany viral infections. Epsom salts, ginger root, marjoram, mustard seed powder, pine needles, and thyme leaves.
Dry Skin Bath: Herbs can have a soothing lubricating effect from the outside. Moisturize with calendula flowers, chamomile flowers, comfrey leaves, elder flowers, fennel seed, jasmine flowers, lavender flowers, oatmeal, rose buds, and violet leaves.
Epsom Salts Bath: This method is lymphatic cleansing, relaxing for sore muscles, softening to the skin, and detoxifying after bodywork. Epsom salts help to get drugs, chemicals and pollutants out of body. Those with diabetes, hypertension or heart disease should rinse off after the bath.
Itchy Skin Bath: To calm itchy skin, resulting from insect bites, chicken pox, and poison ivy, use with apple cider vinegar, baking soda, chickweed herb, lavender flowers, oatmeal, red clover blossoms or violet leaf. Essential oils to use in an itchy skin bath include cedar wood, Roman chamomile, lavender, peppermint and sandalwood.
Oatmeal Bath: This calms irritated skin, poison ivy, dermatitis, high blood pressure, and stress, It is very simple to whiz plain uncooked oatmeal in the blender to make a bath powder. Or tie 1/2 cup into a bath bag.
Relaxing Bath: Take the edge off a stressful day with calming botanicals such as catnip herb, chamomile flowers, Clary sage flowers, hops strobiles, jasmine flowers, lavender flowers, linden flowers, neroli flowers, and rose buds.
Sunburn Bath: Adding black tea, or apple cider vinegar to a cool bath eases burns.
It is easy to create your own Bath Salts by mixing together 1 cup each of sea salt, baking soda and Epsom salts. Add 1 teaspoon of any combination of essential oils. Mix well and store in a glass jar. Add 1 handful per bath.
When done bathing, stay in the tub, visualize the tension draining out of you, as the water runs out of the tub and being soothed by the warm water and Earth Mother.
What are some of your favorite bathing rituals?