I absolutely love castor oil and use it in many ways every week. One of them is the Saturday practice as it’s known in the ashtanga world, the day when I skip asanas and spend ten minutes on the floor covered in oil.
Bathing with castor oil is literally hot. Massaging the oil produces heat in your body releasing tensions and impurities. The bath is relaxing for both the mind and the body, helping with any aches or pains in your back, knees or other joints. Castor oil is also a great skin moisturiser, I love to rub it on my belly nowadays since the hydrating effect prevents getting stretch marks as my belly keeps growing with my pregnancy.
Here is how you do the bath:
- Castor oil bath should be taken on a Saturday, since this is the rest day from asana practice. It’s best to take the bath in the morning as Ayurveda recommends not to put on oils after sunset. I normally use no more than 100ml of oil at a time. Bathing with oil can be super messy so before having the bath, make sure the area where you intend to rub the oil on yourself is covered with a towel, even if you are doing it on the bathroom floor.
- Begin by pouring the oil on your head (this is the most important part, according to Sharath) and massage gently. Continue to pour the oil on your body, taking time to massage every muscle and joint, until you reach your toes.
- When you are done with this and your body is covered in oil, lie down and rest for about 10-15 minutes. I like to put on some nice music, lie down in savasana and cover myself so not to get cold. If you are doing this in a cold country, make sure the place where you are bathing and resting is not too chilly! If you are not used to these oil baths and it is your first time, it’s important not over do it. Even 5-10 minutes is enough for the first time and once you get used to it, you can leave the oil on up to one hour.
- Before washing with shampoo and soap, I like to just pour hot water all over my head and body and massage one last time. You might want to shampoo your hair twice since castor oil is very sticky. I often have to soap my body more than once too just to get it all off.
- Lastly it’s important to scrub the shower floor carefully once you’re all done with your castor bath not to leave the floor all slippery.
After the bath it’s good to rest and do something relaxing for a couple of hours. I love lying down with a good book and some tea. It’s good to drink lots of water and to avoid going under direct sunlight. The next morning when you roll out your yoga mat, take it easy and don’t push too hard 🙂