Learning about Ayurveda is like receiving an Owner’s Manual for your body/mind! There are so many interesting details that go into optimal care of a human body such as when to sleep, when to eat, how to care for your skin, how to clean your mouth and on and on…! I find it fascinating and I continue to be in awe of Ayurveda’s powerful impact not only on my own life but also on the lives of my clients.
Today I wanted to share a little lesson from the Owner’s Manual about showering/bathing. There are ideal times and ways to shower. The best time of day to shower is in the morning. It cleans the body from ama (toxins) that accumulated during the night, moves the lymphatic system which also clears toxins, brings clarity of mind, lifts the mood (depression prevention) and brings a ‘lightness’ to your being. One of my colleagues always says, “Bathing in the am attracts people to you!” You really can’t lose with this tip!
The temperature of the water is also very important. Warm to hot is best. The skin prefers warm as hot can be too drying. Water that is too cold constricts the tissues and over time can cause the tissues to harden which causes premature aging.
When rinsing the head/scalp use a little less hot water as the head is the home of our sense organs and they like to maintain more of a body temperature status otherwise known as homeostasis. Also, if you’re concerned about hair health/growth always avoid hot water on the scalp.
The element water, called “apas” in Sanskrit, is one of the four elements in Ayurveda. It’s qualities are: cool, stable, heavy, moist, smooth, gross, flowing, dull, cloudy, and soft. When we look at the qualities and think about how that might affect the body especially when considering digestion this is the reason we want to shower/bath prior to having a meal. In order to have healthy digestion we require balanced Agni (digestive fire), submerging the body in water with it’s heavy, cool, dull, moist and flowing qualities you can see how that might make it more challenging for the body to digest and it might cause bloating, gas, lethargy and constipation. If you do need to shower after a meal it’s best to wait two hours. BTW this includes swimming as well! ;)
There are many lessons within this overall shower instruction yet I’ll leave you with one more…
The head is the “seat” of Kapha in the body. Kapha holds the energy of earth and water. If we shower before bed and go to bed with wet hair we add to this heavy and cool energy. We might wake up feeling lethargic, pressure or congestion in the sinus’, a headache, dull senses and/or a foggy mind. Once and awhile having your shower before bed won’t be the end of the world but if it’s practiced over time it could lead to dis-ease. Ayurveda is very much a science of PREVENTION. It can sometimes be challenging to practice because we’re accustomed to ‘curing’ or seeing immediate results. When we practice balanced routines we don’t get to see what we are avoiding in the future. That’s where trust and mindfulness comes in. The more we practice the more we notice the subtle differences and the better we feel! One of my inspirations to put Ayurveda to the test in my personal life was witnessing some of my incredible teachers who are 60-75 years old with radiant skin, nimble bodies, loads of energy and sharp minds. I figured it was a win/win and 13 years later I am still in the Ayurveda game!
My last word of advice is to give the early pre-breakfast shower a try for one week! See how you feel. And remember it’s what you do most of the time that counts over time!