In Japan, taking a bath is more than the everyday activity most of us know it to be. It’s a self-care ritual that has brought peace of mind, physical, and mental balance to the Japanese for centuries.
The benefits of mindful bathing are well known in Japan, but it’s not something most of the world knows about. Let’s take a look at how this Eastern bathing ritual can improve your life starting right now.
Bathing in water warmer than 77 degrees Fahrenheit is known as onsen
. In Japan, onsen is a type of bath taken in a natural hot spring. Onsen spring water has naturally occurring elements like sodium bicarbonate and calcium, which are absorbed by the body during a long soak. These natural elements help repair the body by increasing blood flow and the amount of oxygen present in blood
. Naturally, bathers feel physically refreshed during and after onsen because of this biological response to the waters.
Onsen also relieves pain and stress. Whether we notice it or not, we store stress and tension in our muscles, which can create unhealthy muscle patterns like slouching, tensing, or keeping certain muscle groups permanently contracted. (Ever relaxed your jaw and realized you were clenching it all day?) If we don’t melt that tension away, it can cause injury and further pain. If we can reduce the pent-up stress we hold in our bodies, we can also reduce the pain we experience. This is another reason that soaking in onsen waters can be so beneficial to the body.
Many people see their sleep improve after adopting an onsen routine. A calm mind has an easier time quieting the noise of the day and getting restful sleep.
Finally, one benefit of onsen that can be seen with your own eyes is the soothing and hydrating effect it has on skin. Sulphur is a mineral that is naturally present in onsen waters, and it’s often recommended to people with psoriasis and eczema. A long, hot soak is great for your mind, body, and face.
You may not have a hot spring to soak in, but you can recreate onsen at home with the right combination of warm water, a deep tub, and minerals. It’s so important to take a few minutes for yourself every day, which is exactly why Japanese bathing culture is the perfect restorative for our busy modern world.