Transform your bathroom into a luxury status sauna. Follow these simple instructions and your stress will melt away into the bathtub! Follow these simple instructions to create a sauna in your very own bathroom. Then, instead of hopping in the cold car to head home, you can just make a cup of tea, curl up, and get cozy.
Benefits of Sweating
Detoxification of skin and organs
Revitalizes and rejuvenates the skin
Relieves muscle stiffness, pain, and tension.
Reduces numbness, stiffness, rigidity, heaviness.
Improves mobility of the joints
Balances nervous system
Your home sauna may be used a la carte, or as an essential step in detoxification. If you are doing home Pancha Karma, begin your sweat immediately after morning Abhyanga. You may even begin to fill the bathtub while the oil is still on your body. As you heat up, your pores will open to absorb the grounding, nourishing healing oil. Simultaneously, ama (toxicity) that has been loosened by home PK practices will be eliminated. In Ayurveda, it is best to nourish while detoxifying, so that no deficiency or healing crisis is created.
- A small bathroom easily converts into a sauna.
- Insulate: Cover your windows so cold air does not leak in from outside during cold weather. Roll up towels and place them at the bottom of the door.
- Heat: Close the curtain to seal in steam. Fill the bathtub with 4-6 inches of very hot water. You may also use the few inches at the bottom of a shower.
- Prepare: Fill a medium sized bowl with cold water and soak a washcloth. Every few minutes, squeeze some cool water onto your face, back of neck, and top of your head. You may leave the cold washcloth on the top of your head if you like. Rose water hydrosol is a lovely way to keep from overheating while in your home sauna. Simply keep a bottle within reach as spritz your face every few minutes. Have a glass of warm water or ginger tea next to the bathtub.
- Ambiance: Your swedan is meant to be a healing experience in which toxins are removed from your body, that calms your nervous system. Keep lights dim, light candles, add soft music if you like.
- Swedana (start sweating): Place towels on the floor to keep your feet warm. Pull the shower curtain back half way and sit next to the bathtub. A chair or the side of the tub will do just fine!
- Meditate: What to do while sitting in the bathroom doing nothing? For some, this sitting quietly can be quite uncomfortable! Go ahead and simply close your eyes and enjoy the peace. The heat of the steam will naturally slow down your mind.
For some people doing nothing can cause anxiety or aggravation. If you notice these feelings, a great way to work with what comes up is to meditate. Choose a simple phrase that feels powerful and healing to you and repeat it in your mind. When you notice that the phrase has disappeared and you’re thinking about something else, go back to the phrase. Some options I love are:
- Healthy, Happy, Whole.
- So Hum: In your mind, say So as you inhale and Hum as you exhale. That’s all.
- My Body is Healthy, Vital, and Strong.
- Create an affirmation of your own that supports your healing process.
Less is More
For some, especially those of Vata and Kapha constitutions, it may feel like you could stay in the comfort of your sauna all day. Swedana treatment is traditionally done for no more than 10 minutes in a sweat box. Since your steam will be less concentrated, 15 minutes will be fine. Pitta predominant constitutions should not exceed 10 minutes in the sauna.
Instructions complete! The only thing left to do is wrap up in warm, soft clothes, make some tea, and curl up with your favorite movie. And the cat!
If you’re ever in Western North carolina, i highly recommend a visit Gaia Herbs.
Pictures speak louder than words; Here are some of some of the most commonly used herbs in the Ayurvedic and Western pharmacopeia.
Tulsi (commonly known as Holy Basil) ready for a close up!
The Tulsi Fields
Lemon Balm. Happy and Calm.
Gotu Kola and her taller neighbor, Echinacea.
Gotu Kola up close. In some parts of India, centella asiatica is known as Brahmi.
Six acres of echinacea lay beneath the Blue Ridge Mountains in Brevard, North Carolina. Grown with love by Gaia Herbs.
This is Gizmo.
Gizmo the Angel Alien Cat Pisses on the Bathroom Rug is a piece I wrote about a year ago. It has just been picked up by the awesome folks at Elephant Journal, making this girl feel very excited, seen, heard, and understood. There’s got to be Ayurvedic term for that.
Writing your story out, allowing it to become separate from you as you write it, read it, and let it go is one of the most therapeutic choices we can make. Here’s part of mine.
“Hi, my name is Heather. I am a french fry addict.” (Yes, this has everything to do with Ayurveda.) I love fries. Disproportionately so. Sometimes, I love them like my life depended on it. And sometimes, my sanity definitely does.
Let’s talk about why- tastes & qualities. In Ayurveda, tastes and qualities provide the reason for a substance’s intense desirability. French fries are starchy, salty, sweet, hot, a little crispy… I remember licking oil and salt off my fingers as a kid. Always extremely excited for french fries, disproportionately so. This must be connected, there’s got to be a relationship between my lust for fries with the satisfaction of that childhood thrill. They make me feel calm and happy. Oil makes it go down easy. Makes it come out easy too. But potatoes, not so bueno for some of our intestinal tracts, including poor-little-mine. But I want them. I really want them. And I need something about them too, in those moments, to drop back into that feeling of childhood contentedness. That must be it, because this craving ignites when I’m stressed out.
As it turns out, there is method in the madness. Starchy foods provide instant energy, salty-sweet-oily foods give a sense of comfort. In fact a major function of the sweet taste documented in the Caraka Samhita (an ancient text of Ayurveda), is comfort & contentedness. Comfort is necessary, contentedness the goal. Sweet, oily, & salty qualities are not the enemy- it’s the method of delivery that gets us into trouble.
So… What will give that sensation of french fries without the soon to be felt undesired effects of cranky-bloated-sleepiness? Sub out the potatoes, bake instead of fry, voila! Sweet potatoes are one exquisitely delicious option. And here’s another- Yucca. Their light starchy goodness might as well be a potato, only sweeter. They are also a much more sustaining source of carbohydrates than potatoes. Their light, sweet taste is perfectly complemented by coconut oil as they bake to crispy perfection. A sprinkle of sea salt? Well, alright. Fresh cracked pepper and a touch of cayenne? If you insist.
The remedy for the craving that is not going anywhere, except my mouth. Because it’s my body’s desire for calm interpreted as french fries. And… That. Is. Just. Fine.
Recipe for Yucca Fries
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Slice 1 yucca into french fry slivers. Steak or shoestring, you decide.
- Toss with 1 tbsp coconut oil.
- Sprinkle with a big pinch of sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Grind black pepper to taste. Some of us like a whole lot.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes until your desired crispiness is achieved.