Bathing – Routine or Ritual?

Bathing, to many of us, is a mundane yet necessary task of the day. It’s so deeply embedded in our daily routine that we practise it without due forethought or planning. Sure, we know that it cleans us up and sets us up for the day, but is bathing really as mundane as we think it is?

Civilizations all over the world, from ancient Greece to Rome and India, have attributed sacred, healing qualities to a bath. In Ayurveda, it is believed that bathing is a time to be mindful of your body. It’s not just mere routine, it’s a ritual that washes away negativity and toxins. But given the hurried nature of our mornings, one may wonder if it’s even possible to make a sincere time commitment.

But that’s exactly why taking some time off during a bath becomes important. Our mornings are defined by rushed tasks – we go from bath to breakfast to dressing up, without devoting quality time to ourselves. In a culture that prides itself on jam-packed schedules and social media appearances, connecting with ourselves has become even more crucial and bathing is known to be an ideal time to do so.

Bathing - Routine or Ritual?
Various steps can be performed to create the right environment and relax our senses. To begin with, a daily self-massage is recommended. Abhyanga is the process of massaging warm oil infused with herbs into the body before shower. Our skin is composed of seven dhatus or layers, with each layer considered to be progressively potent. Through Abhyanga, the oil penetrates these layers of tissue, inducing a feeling of warmth and contentment. To pick the best massage oil, it’s important to determine your dosha and cater to imbalances, if any.

For the oil to successfully reach these different layers, devoting about ten-fifteen minutes to the entire body is advised. This, coupled with deep breathing helps the oil to soak well into the body and uplift our energy levels. Come to think of it, in a rather short amount of time, we can receive a multitude of benefits.

What follows the oil massage is the bath. Since bathroom is an area prone to germs and mustiness, regular cleaning of the area is of utmost importance. After all, cleansing our body in an unclean environment defeats the very purpose of a shower. Lighting a scented candle helps eliminate tension and prevents us from starting our day on a stressful note. In Ayurveda, fire is considered to be a purifying force that promotes the feeling of mental and spiritual wellness.

Another calming technique is to ensure that you bathe in silence, without any external distractions. But if that’s not a likely option, playing relaxing music of nature sounds or mantra chants is a good idea. In fact, there is a specific chant called Snana Mantra (bath chant) that invokes the river goddesses of India:

“O holy rivers Ganges and Yamuna, and also Godavari, Saraswati;
Narmada, Sindhu and Kaveri; please be present in this water near me and make it holy!” (Translated from Sanskrit).

While both cold and warm water baths have their benefits, choose the temperature in accordance with your dosha and the season. While bathing in cold water in winters runs the risk of causing kapha-vita imbalance, overly warm water leads to pitta imbalance in summers.

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