People find different ways to beat back the blues. Some listen to music, others seek solace in natural beauty, and still others comfort themselves with food. And then there are those who simply take a bath. It cleanses their body, they say, and lifts their spirits every time.
Ayurveda, too, sees bathing as a therapeutic activity. A leisurely bath relaxes tense muscles, irons out a creased brow, opens clogged pores, restores moisture to the tissues, and adds a healing dimension to your day.
If preceded by a luxurious all-body massage, your bath can be a truly divine experience.
Bathing has always been accorded the status of an intimate, sacred activity in Indian life. During their explorations of ancient India's Indus Valley Civilization in Mohenjo-Daro, archaeologists unearthed a large pool-like structure with steps leading down at both ends. This is believed to have been a public bath. In addition, homes in this surprisingly advanced civilization had their own private baths and an elaborate drainage system.
Not just India, but several other world cultures have treated the bath as a healing activity. In ancient Greece, water was regarded as a gift of health from the gods themselves. In Rome, ruins of hot and cold sunken baths can still be seen at Pompeii. Napoleon's wife Josephine Bonaparte's bathtub is said to retain its musk perfume, more than 150 years after it was built.
As the world discovered the comfort and pleasure a bath could bring, new ways were found to make it a luxurious experience. Ancient ayurvedic texts speak of royal baths featuring rose petals, milk, honey, and turmeric. The Roman baths at Pompeii were resplendent with mirrors, marbled walls, and silver faucets. Mary, Queen of Scots, used wine in her bath.
Today, of course, we have an amazing range of bath accessories to choose from. Put together, bath sponges, loofahs, pillows, salts, and lotions can make even the simplest bathroom resemble a beauty boutique.
But there's great news for those who don't believe in or cannot afford such indulgence. A truly luxurious bath that leaves you feeling like a million dollars can be part of your daily routine — all you need is a good-quality herbalized massage oil, some paper towels, and a mild herb-based soap.
The ayurvedic daily self-massage is called abhyanga. It does a number of things to make you feel great. Massage helps to release impurities and toxins that accumulate in the skin.
Follow your ayurvedic massage with a long, luxurious bath or shower. An herbal cleansing bar such as the Youthful Skin Herbal Soap from Maharishi Ayurveda is mild enough not to strip the oils from your skin, yet rich enough to leave you with a fresh, clean feeling for the day ahead.
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