In my family, I’m the only ‘bather’.
My husband sits firmly in the ‘shower’ camp – and as my daughters have grown, they too have transitioned from bathers to showerers.
When I ask why, the reason for the switch is… ‘it’s quicker’.
I decided to ask a few of my colleagues and friends the question – Are you a shower or a bath person? No surprises, that 9/10 of them were all ‘showerers’. Again, the reason being – it’s convenient and quick.
Admittedly, in a morning if there’s a strict time regime, (which there so often in is modern day households - whether single or family), I can see how hopping quickly in and out of the shower makes sense. However, perhaps bathing is the perfect opportunity to slow things down.
Our lives seem to be busier than ever before. We’re often on autopilot manically going through the motions of our daily routines – whizzing through the hours in the day without a moment to think. Our lives can be so planned and frantic that no time is given to stop and consider just how the mind is feeling, how we’re breathing, what our mood state is, how the body is feeling – we’re highly disconnected and it’s all just rush, rush, rush in a highly ‘mindless’ way.
This need for the quick shower so one can move onto the next part of the day, without any thought or connection with the self, reminded me of why I start my yoga classes the way I do. I always encourage the class to start by taking some time to truly tune in to the space – taking time to feel and hear the breath, time to feel the weight of our bodies, time to tune in to how we’re actually feeling. Starting off the class this was, with a very ‘mindful’ approach to connecting with ourselves, taking that time to be peaceful and mindful, is often the first and only time, in a whole week that one has stopped to reconnect and tune in to how they’re feeling. And if you think about that – that really is nuts.
This simple act of tuning in and being present is indeed still part of our yoga practice. In the West, yoga is more commonly associated with the asana, the physical practice. The downward facing dogs, warriors and triangles. The asana, the physical aspect of our yoga, movement and breath - urging us to connect with how the body feels as we move, acknowledging the movement and how our breath helps us to let go and deepen into the practice is a key part of our yoga practice – but it is just one part.
Another key part of our yoga practice – is the practice of being present, connected - fully ‘tuned in’.
Being present, or ‘mindful’ over the past few years has become big business. Bookshops are now filled with books about mindfulness practices, there are courses, schools, practitioners, experts and gurus – and anything that helps us all as human beings stop to pause and reconnect and be present with what we are doing – can only be a great thing.
But mindfulness is not new, nor is meditation – they too are all part of the ancient practice of yoga.
In fact, over the many years of yoga asana I’ve practiced – it’s only over the past few years that I’m beginning to understand that yoga isn’t something you necessarily do – but rather it’s something you become.
So… this leads me back to yogic bathing.
My quest is to get more people enjoying the wonders of yogic bathing. And by this I mean taking some time out perhaps even just once a week to experience your yoga practice in a slightly different way – discovering or rediscovering the joy of yoga through the simple act of bathing.
Bathing has been enjoyed as a health benefit for thousands of years – for the Romans bathing was a form of complementary medicine and very much a part of their fitness regime – they built spas wherever they landed, to reap the many health benefits of submerging the body into warm water.
Many studies have been undertaken over the years into the impact of bathing in warm water – from easing muscle spasms to experience profound relaxation, and studies around delinquent children and children with autism becoming far more relaxed after bathing.
And of course, we can aid the medicinal effects of bathing by adding in Epsom salts, topping up those ever-depleting magnesium levels – to aid restful sleep and muscle fatigue. Not to mention an array of beautiful scents and medicinal aromatherapy and Ayurvedic oils and milks.
And let’s not forget that once upon a time we were all fish.
Bathing has played an important part of our lives throughout the ages. Everything about bathing aids relaxation. Plus there’s the opportunity to be truly present not only when you’re kicking back and enjoying the aromas, the warm water, the peace and the stillness – but also with the preparation.
In just the same mindful way the Japanese prepare their tea – there’s opportunity to create that feeling of ‘ceremony’ when preparing to bath.
The mood may be different depending whether it’s day or night. The sun may be shining through and brightening your surroundings, or subdued candlelight may create a blanket of calm. You can choose whether to add some uplifting oils – perhaps bergamot, orange or rosemary – or perhaps soothing lavender, geranium and patchouli.
To bubble or not bubble – the choice is yours. You may want some music to tune into – or you may prefer to simply focus on the peace and the gentle rhythm of your heart.
Whichever aspects you choose to add to your ceremony, it’s the perfect opportunity to be truly present through a number of senses. To connect with the water surrounding you, how the skins feels, how the body feels, to feel the muscles unwinding and letting go, to feel the weight of the limbs, to smell the aroma of the soaps or oils, to spend time being present and doing anything other than ‘rushing around’. Time to say to yourself – right now, I have nothing to do and nowhere to go, I’m just going to be here, present and relaxed. And this my friend, is yoga!
So next time you’re thinking of rushing through the day – take your yoga practice to another level by simply taking some time to take time out to practice the art of being present – and a wonderful way to do that is to kick back and give yourself the time to enjoy the delights of yogic bathing.
Getting to a yoga class is another way to practice your yoga too . My gentle Vinyasa Yoga Class is each Wednesday, 8.30pm – Maidenhead Physio Centre – everyone welcome - more details here: http://www.yogacentral.co.uk/classes