All Doshas
The Joy of Conscious Bathing

We all cleanse our bodies, but in Ayurvedic way of living, this humble ritual is elevated to a conscious level and becomes a unique act of self-care and wellbeing. What is conscious bathing? And how do we fit it into the daily rush of modern life?

There are two core rituals involved in Ayurvedic bathing and showering. The first is massage of the skin with oils specific to the season and the needs of your body, determined by your Dosha type. (If you don’t know your Dosha, discover it by taking the test at the bottom of this page) This is called Abhyanga. The second ritual is the application of a plant-based paste which is done after a morning yoga and pranayama (yogic breathing) routine. This is Utvarasana.

It sounds simple enough, but something about this unassuming routine is profound:  the act itself, the philosophy behind it and the effects. Everything about Ayurvedic cleansing is dramatically different from what most people think of as bathing.


Sir Ken Robinson, the author and international education advisor, jokes in one of his TED Talks: “For a professor, the body is just a form of transportation for the head.” This diagnosis holds true for most of us. Our lives are so heavily focused on our screens, and so artificially distanced from our natural origins, that without an active and conscious effort to do otherwise, we live mostly in our thoughts and lose a deeper connection to our bodies.

But when we stand in a bathroom and pour oil over our body and massage our arms, chest, back, legs and feet, it feels as if we are reconnecting with the “thing” that has been transporting our head all this time. With each slow and purposeful movement, our connection with our body deepens, and the sensation of hands against the skin evokes a newfound gratitude for the physical container of the self, the temple of the spirit.

Something about normal shower gel or bodywash – the way it soaps, slides and vanishes so quickly – means it never evokes a meaningful connection with the body. When we carry out Abhyanga oil massage we have no choice but to be fully present in the process of bathing, fully in the moment with no chance for the mind to drift. When we bathe consciously, we can feel that we are relaxing and lubricating every muscle in the body. The awareness of the body is heightened, attention is sharpened, both during the massage and throughout the day.


If oiling is the meditative activity to naturally nourish and moisturise the body, then Utvarasana – the application of dried, powdered herbs, fruits, nuts or seeds as a paste – is the Ayurvedic act of natural exfoliation and cleansing. Functionally, this process removes dirt from the skin and excess oil from the Abhyanga massage, but something about using a paste made of raw natural ingredients is especially unique.

Rubbing a blend of walnut, lentil powder and dried rose petals on to our body provokes a sense of gratitude towards nature, as we remember that everything we could ever need to lead a fulfilled life is already provided to us by nature.

The Effects

A 5,000-year-old Ayurvedic text, the Ashtanga Hridayam, tells us: “Snana [proper Ayurvedic bathing] improves appetite, sexual vigour, the span of life, valour and strength, removes itching, dirt, exhaustion, sweat, stupor, thirst, burning sensation and sin.” As with all ancient Indian wisdom, original Ayurvedic texts are written as verses of poetry and tend to be as spiritual, sensual, and sometimes even as strange as they are scientific.

When we bathe our body with ingredients that come from the earth, ingredients that we can literally eat or use to make tea, we remember that even our skin is alive. It’s a living and breathing organ, and, just like the rest of our body, if we feed it processed, artificial food, this will negatively impact our energy and long-term health. But when we feed our body clean, beautiful, natural ingredients, it improves our energy, vitality, and maybe even our connection with our self. This is the joy of conscious bathing.

That’s what the Ayurvedic philosophy is fundamentally based on – an understanding that human beings are nature, not separate or distinct from it. Nature is our mother, and, like any good mother, she provides everything her children need to be nourished, healthy and whole. The earth has everything we need: we just need to know where to look.

Find Balance

Are you living as your true self?

Integrate Ayurvedic wisdom into your life and start a lifelong journey of beauty and wellbeing.

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