Castor Oil Baths - Ashtanga Yoga

Just this week I was asked by a friend "do people still do oil baths?" and so the conversation begins... who, what, where, why and how ;0)

Oil bath is a traditional, weekly Ayurvedic home remedy still practiced widely in South India. Weekly oil bath reduces excess internal heat (pitta in Ayurveda) particularly in the joints, liver, and skin. Excess heat can be felt in the joints as pain and stiffness and in the back. This heat also contributes to a short temper, burning anger, red skin, pinkish acne, and redness in the eyes. Benefits of the bath is in the heat that the oil produces in the body releasing impurities, reduction of pain and inflammation, as well produces a healthy glow.

In India, oil bath is customarily taken with castor oil that is later removed from the skin and hair with a special herbal paste made of equal parts soap nut and green powders mixed with water. Castor oil delivers the best results, but is nearly impossible to remove without these powders. You can replace castor oil with almond oil, which easily washes off with bath soap. Daily baths in India are taken by pouring water over the head from a bucket while standing in the bath, a river, or other body of water. It is in reference to this bath that oil bath is so termed. In other words, the student is not soaking in a tub of oil; rather he or she is using oil first on the head. Oil is rubbed into the scalp which draws the heat upward through the body, where it finally exits through the crown of the head. It is recommended that a student takes oil bath every Saturday (on his or her day of rest or once per week) at the start of the morning. After oil bath, one should rest for the day and avoid the following: strong sun, cold water, yoga or heavy work of any kind.

It is also recommended to take it very easy on Sunday practice (the day after), as the body is prone to be much more supple and stretching might seem easier, tempting one to go further than usual and increasing the chance for injury. If you are thinking of trying it, it might be useful to talk to a teacher before attempting, just to be on the safe side.

*Inserts taken from: Kimberly Flynn & Claudia Azula

The following is a great article on Oil baths and the steps to doing one.

mysweetdharma - Castor Oil Bath

Have you tried oil baths before? Let me know what you think!

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