In Japan we have a deeply-rooted wellness tradition that everyone enjoys, called hot spring or onsen.
Hospitality, locality, nature and seasonality make every onsen a unique experience. Whether a romantic getaway or yearly family reunion, each destination offers its own healing tradition, and the mineral contents in the water can improve and heal certain physical conditions. After dipping in the hot springs, you can participate in the tradition of sitting around a table in a yukata, a traditional Japanese summer robe, and savour the seasonal local cuisine, often while enjoying the natural setting, whether in the mountains or by the sea. There we re-connect, let go and heal, rejuvenating our bodies and souls – the core essence of a modern spa.
In a similar way, the Japanese traditionally value the home spa through daily bathing rituals: ‘wash away’ what happened today – grief, anger and all negativities – to cleanse and renew and prepare for tomorrow.
Sitting in a hot bath does amazing things for the body and mind. Not only does it improve blood circulation and enhance the metabolism of organs and cells but it also improves the immune system by activating white blood cells. Sweating and urinating help detoxify and raise the body temperature. Bathing every day for 15 minutes in hot water is as effective as getting a massage once a week! For the skin, the hot steam and water open the pores and cleanse the skin deeply. And for the mind, the floating effects release the stress the body weight imposes by reducing the body weight by a tenth.
Follow these tips in your daily bathing ritual:
- Temperature matters, and needs adjustment depending on the seasons. In the tropical climate in which I live, I usually set it for 40°C (it may be adjusted depending on the temperature of the room). The idea is to have the water slightly warmer than the body temperature.
- Add 1-2 cups of sea salt or/and ginger to increase the detoxifying effects. Other ingredients such as magnesium chloride, baking powder and essential oils (mixed with base oil) can also enhance the experience.
- Make sure to top up hot water to maintain the heat throughout.
- Soak for at least 20 minutes to maximise the effects. You do not necessarily need to soak the entire body, but sit with the water below chest. Make sure to cover the shoulders if the room temperature is low. Relax, read a book or listen to music.
- Finish off with a cold shower.
- Make sure to dry and wrap your body straight away, and hydrate with a glass of clean water, but avoid drinking cold drinks.
Soak the whole body at 42C° for 3 minutes in and out for 3 sets.
If you have no bathtub, try a foot-bath at 42C° for 10–15 minutes.