18 Jun Ayurvedic Oil Bath
Oil Bath might sound like one has to dip in a tub filled with oil, but actually it is an Ayurvedic oil massage followed by a hot shower. It is meant to be done once a week and it is recommended to be done on the rest day from the asana practice. Sri K. Pattabhi Jois used to advise his students to do this in the morning of Saturday, or his or her rest day. It’s best to take the bath in the morning as Ayurveda recommends not to put on oils after sunset.
Massaging the oil produces heat in the body releasing tensions and impurities, relief for any back pains, knee pains or joint pains. It removes inflammation and toxins from the body by removing excess heat, particularly from the joints, liver and skin. It is relaxing for both the mind and body, and it really is a wonderful way to practice self-love and give nourishment to your body.
After the bath it’s good to rest and do something relaxing for a couple of hours. Maybe grab a good book and drink some tea. It’s also good to drink lots of water (lukewarm, not cold) to stay hydrated and to avoid going under direct sunlight or doing any excess work.
The next morning when you roll out your yoga mat, take it easy and don’t push too hard. Also, a woman should not take this oil bath during menstruation, instead she should take it on the fourth day (following the first three days of period, during which time she has abstained from yoga practice).
What you need for the bath:
1. Castor/Almond Oil. When you’re choosing your oil, make sure you get an organic, cold-pressed and hexane-free oil.
2. Towels. Yes, things are about to get messy.
3. Castile Soap.
4. Your choice of shampoo.
How to do the bath:
1. At first, you need to heat up your oil. You can either put the bottle in the sink filled with reasonably hot water or use a pot in the same way. Heating the oil slightly makes it more fluid as it is rather thick by nature. Use around 100ml of oil at a time.
2. Brush your hair and prepare the “bath” area. Bathing with oil can be super messy so before having the bath, make sure the area where you intend to rub the oil on yourself is covered with a towel, even if you are doing it on the bathroom floor.
3.) Begin by pouring the oil on your head (this is the most important part, according to Sharath) and massage gently from the scalp towards the end of your hair. Continue to pour the oil on your body, taking time to massage every muscle and joint, until you reach your toes. Rub the oil in a circular motion on the joints and use long (gentle but firm) strokes on long bones and surface areas.
4. When you think you are done and have massaged every bit of your body, lie down and relax for about 10-15 minutes. Maybe even put on some nice music at this point. Make sure the place where you are bathing and resting is not too chilly. If you are not used to these oil baths and it is your first time, it’s important not to over do it. Even 5-10 minutes is enough for the first time and once you get used to it, you can leave the oil on up to one hour.
5. Before washing with shampoo and castile soap, just pour warm water all over your head and body and massage one last time. You might want to shampoo your hair twice since the oil is very sticky. You might have to soap your body more than once too just to get it all off.
6. Lastly, it is important to scrub the shower floor carefully once you’re all done with your oil bath so as not to leave the floor all slippery.