Underpinned by Hindu mythology and backed by science, an Ayurvedic detox bath is a healthier (and safer) alternative to using mass-produced bath products.
Although modern soaps, body washes and bath bombs come in a variety of attractive colours and branded packaging, they also come loaded with chemicals, artificial ingredients and toxins.
Best case scenario, they have no effect. Worst case scenario, they irritate your skin, unbalance your hormones and natural pH, and expose you to cancer-causing chemicals.
In Ayurveda, bathing in considered a sacred and highly powerful karma – daily ritual.
What’s more is that the herbs, minerals, oils and salts that make up an Ayurvedic detox bath aren’t just for decorative effect. In fact, they contain powerful anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, detoxifying and even painkilling properties.
In this article, we’ll explore:
- What is Ayurveda?
- What is an Ayurvedic Detox Bath?
- Benefits of an Ayurvedic Detox Bath
- Who is Goddess Parvati?
- How to take an Ayurvedic Detox Bath
- Ayurvedic Detox Bath Recipes
Light a candle, start running the bath and keep reading.
What is Ayurveda?
So, first things first.
Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science, is an ancient system of medicine with historical roots in the Indian subcontinent that dates back more than 3000 years.
Although Ayurveda began as an oral tradition, the bulk of Ayurveda’s practices can be found in the Atharva, Yajur Veda and Rig Vedas, three of the sacred Hindu texts.Ayurveda is an alternative to Western modern medicine, favoring a preventative and holistic approach to health instead of a one-off treatment for symptoms of diseases.
Derived from the Sanskrit words Ayu, meaning Life, and Veda, meaning Knowledge, Ayurveda aims to bring balance to the mind, body and soul, as well as enable people to live long and fulfilled lives without the need for prescriptions and invasive surgeries.
What is an Ayurvedic Bath?
In order to achieve optimal wellbeing and fulfilment, Ayurveda prescribes a number of nithyakarmas – spiritual and sacred rituals that are to be performed daily.
One of the most important daily rituals is bathing, which also has a long tradition in Hindu mythology, for reasons that we’ll explore in the next section.
Ayurveda views bathing as a form of holistic therapy that restores balance to the body, mind, and spirit. According to ancient Ayurvedic texts, bathing is a meditative and cleansing experience that can improve your sleep, appetite, libido and general mood.
These powerful baths involve a concoction of Ayurvedic herbs, oils, minerals, milks and salts. Common ingredients include Epson salts, ginger, apple cider vinegar, lavender essential oil and volcanic clay.
Not your average bath bomb, by any means!
Depending on the season and your Dosha, Ayurveda recommends either warm or cooler baths.
Who is Goddess Parvati?
In order to understand the spiritual significance of an Ayurvedic Bath, let’s delve briefly into Hindu mythology and the story of how Goddess Mahagauri, the reliver of suffering and the fulfiller of desire, came to be.
Our story starts with Goddess Parvati, who is often referred to as Aparna – the Lady of the terrible penance.
Appealing for help from Lord Kamadeva and Rati (the God and Goddess of love, desire and pleasure), Goddess Parvati attempted to seduce Lord Shiva (the God of destruction and transformation).
Yet when Kamadeva shot his arrow of desire at Lord Shiva, Shiva was so deep in his meditation that he was unaffected by its powers. He was, however, enraged by this disturbance and opened his third eye, incinerating Kamadeva to a pile of ashes.
Seeing the terrible error in her ways, Goddess Parvati spent thousands of years paying penance. This included standing in ice cold water, standing in a roaring fire, fasting, meditating and enduring all that came her way, come hail, storms, drought or floods.
She was so absorbed in her penance that great forests grew around her and her body became coated in dust, earth and leaves.
When Lord Shiva heard of Parvati’s extreme penance, he was deeply moved and promised to marry her once she was cleansed.
To remove the layer of dirt covering her, Goddess Parvati submerged herself in the Ganga river. This divine bath transformed her into the Goddess Mahagauri.
Mahagauri is depicted as a beautiful golden woman in white holding a drum, lotus and trident, and is said deliver good fortune and relieve suffering.
As such, bathing is viewed in Hinduism and Ayurvedic practice as a highly sacred and spiritual ritual.
benefits of an Ayurvedic Detox Bath
Ayurvedic detox baths offer a vast array of physiological, psychological and spiritual benefits that extend far beyond the general benefits of soaking in hot water.
Some of the benefits include:
- Balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system
- Improves blood circulation
- Decongests blocked nasal passages
- Reduces anxiety
- Improves eczema and dry skin
- Strengthens digestive fire
- Induces sweating
- Improves joint health
- Alleviates muscle aches and cramps
- Opens clogged pores
- Improves libido
- Improves clarity of thought
- Improves energy levels
How to take an Ayurvedic Bath
Running an Ayurvedic bath is a simple but rewarding process that takes less than an hour, from start to finish.
Run a warm-to-hot bath and dissolve the ingredients in it (recipes below), mixing gently with your hand if necessary.
You can increase the ambience by lighting a candle or putting on some quiet, soothing music, but this isn’t essential.
Sparingly add drops of your favourite essential oils. A little goes a long way!
Relax with your eyes closed or scrub off dead skins using a body scrubber.
Stay in the bath for no longer than 40 minutes. You don’t want to begin reabsorbing any of the toxins your body has just purged.
Take a quick shower to rinse yourself of any residue, and also to clean the bath.
5 Ayurvedic Detox Bath Tips
Ayurveda encourages bathing during the transitional parts of the day – just before sunrise or just before sunset.
Whether the sun rises and sets in the Vata or Kapha period of the Ayurvedic clock depends on the seasons. Try to align yourself to the natural rhythms of nature as much as possible.
If you only have time to bathe once a day, you’re best off bathing in the morning.
But don’t roll right out of bed into the shower – let your body wake up for at least 45 minutes prior. You can use this time to complete your other Ayurvedic rituals, like oil pulling, tongue scraping or meditating.
Be aware that eating too soon before or after your Ayurvedic bath can dampen its effects. Protect your agni (digestive fire) by waiting at least 30 minutes after bathing before eating breakfast, or waiting for 1 hour after bathing before eating dinner.
Keep your Dosha in mind.
If you’re Vata or Kapha dominant, opt for a hot bath to counteract the coldness of these two Doshas. If you’re Pitta dominant, opt for a cooler bath to pacify your overstimulated digestive fire.
However, bear in mind that this is no substitute for an evaluation from a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner. If you’re serious about wanting to achieve maximum health and well-being according to your Dosha, consider visiting an Ayurvedic clinic.
3. Clean up
Once you’re finished bathing, drain the water and take a quick shower to remove oil or herb residue from your body. You’ll also want to give your bath a quick clean to prevent a rim of oil building up.
Once you’re clean and dry, gently apply massage oils to your body.
This is particularly beneficial to Vata dominant people who tend to suffer from dry skin and other dermatological conditions.
Ayurvedic Detox Bath Recipes
Ginger Detox Bath
- Fresh or powdered ginger
- Baking soda
- Epsom salt
- 5 drops of lavender and rosemary essential oils
Ginger, a staple in Ayurvedic remedies, is an anti-inflammatory that improves the health of your skin barrier.
The salt gives you a healthy dose of magnesium and can help relieve cramps and muscles aches, whilst the baking soda helps you purge toxins from your body.
Apple Cider Vinegar Detox Bath
- Sea salt
- Epsom salt
- 5 drops of rose essential oil
- Fresh ginger
Apple cider vinegar targets bacteria and yeast on the skin. It helps relieve symptoms of dry skin, eczema, and dandruff, prevents excessive yeast production and restores our skin’s natural pH balance.
This vinegar also contains acetic acid, an ingredient found in painkillers such as aspirin. This helps reduce inflammation and can also ease the pain from sunburn – handy to know when summer comes around!
Bentonite Clay Detox Bath
- Bentonite clay
- Dead sea salt
- Epsom salt
- 5 drops of lavender essential oil
This detox bath is rich in minerals and deeply calming.
Bentonite clay is a clay made out of aged volcanic ash that magnetically pulls toxins, metals and other forms of waste from the body. Research suggests that it possesses anti-bacterial and detoxifying properties.
Meanwhile, lavender essential oil boasts strong anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, helping to relieve inflammation and protect eczema rashes against infection. Lavender is also linked to reducing symptoms of anxiety.
Vanilla Detox Bath
- 5 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
- Vanilla bath salts
- Epsom salt
This moisturizing detox bath brings relief from irritation caused by dry skin or eczema, as well as improves blood circulation and clarity of thought.
Baking soda is a gentle exfoliant that’s linked to improving acne scars and eliminating blackheads.
Turmeric Detox Bath
- Green gram powder
- Turmeric powder
- Ginger powder
- Rose petals
- Almond milk
- 5 drops of rose, lavender, or geranium essential oil
Almond milk is an Ayurvedic staple that is rich in fatty oils, leaving your skin feeling supple and soft.
Not only will turmeric turn your bath a beautiful golden colour, but it’s also particularly beneficial for your skin. This is because of curcumin, an active compound found in turmeric, has powerful antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Dosha Quiz | Discover My Ayurvedic Body Type
Knowing your dosha can provide a window into your inner world.
Whether Vata, Pitta, or Kapha, or a combination of all three, you'll receive tailored information on your unique dosha composition at the end of the quiz.
Answer each question instinctively, try not to overthink!