From an Ayurvedic perspective, as we transition from the hot summer to the cool, dry and windy fall, which is governed by the vata dosha (air/ether elements), it is important to make sure we don’t dry out, burn out or space out. One of the ways in which we can do this is through bathing. Throughout history, medicinal herbal baths have been a way to both cleanse and to nourish, by supporting balance of body, mind and spirit.
Mustard is a member of the Brassicaceae family, a grouping of medicinally active and valuable food plants which includes cabbage, broccoli, horseradish, watercress, cauliflower and turnips. Many of these contain alkaloids which have been shown to be helpful cancer preventatives. Mustard seed is a pungent that is warming and stimulates agni (the digestive fire), which is why it is a frequent condiment used in a variety of recipes.
When mustard is used in the bath, it increases circulation and stimulates sweating. The watery nature of a soak helps to dampen what could be overstimulating effects of this heating herb. The watery nature of this medium provides warmth without subsequent drying out or stripping the body after its cleansing action. Bathing in mustard through the transition from the dry fall through the wet heavy kaphagenic winter supports circulation in an effort to prevent the mucus-forming colds and flus that can plague the darker seasons that are characterized by fewer hours of sunlight. In these months, we have less of an opportunity to receive our warmth from the sun. Yellow mustard powder allows us to imbibe the sunlight collected from the leaves of the mustard plant and concentrated in the seeds. As the days get darker, we can bathe in sunlight.
Mustard Bath Sources
Kalahari Mineral Salts and Mustard Bath contains Kalahari desert mineral salts (sodium, potassium, copper, zinc, manganese and magnesium), ground mustard seed, eucalyptus, camphor and wintergreen. Serengeti World Imports: serengetiworldimports.com.
Dr. Singha’s Mustard Bath contains certified organic mustard seed powder, essential oils of eucalyptus, rosemary, wintergreen and thyme and gum benzoin in a base of sodium carbonate. Dr. Singha’s Natural Formulations: drsingha.com.
Seasonal Cleansing for Fall
Other ways to support your fall cleanse and seasonal transition include the Ultimate Energy Cleanse, an herbal program with formulations that support the clearing of excess heat from the body, liver tonification, digestive system balance and cleansing, immune system strengthening and overall alkalinization and rebalancing of all the body’s organs and systems. Recipes and other suggestions are included in the program: uecleanse.com
Felicia Tomasko has spent more of her life practicing Yoga and Ayurveda than not. She first became introduced to the teachings through the writings of the Transcendentalists, through meditation, and using asana to cross-train for her practice of cross-country running. Between beginning her commitment to Yoga and Ayurveda and today, she earned degrees in environmental biology and anthropology and nursing, and certifications in the practice and teaching of yoga, yoga therapy, and Ayurveda while working in fields including cognitive neuroscience and plant biochemistry. Her commitment to writing is at least as long as her commitment to yoga. Working on everything related to the written word from newspapers to magazines to websites to books, Felicia has been writing and editing professionally since college. In order to feel like a teenager again, Felicia has pulled out her running shoes for regular interval sessions throughout Southern California. Since the very first issue of LA YOGA, Felicia has been part of the team and the growth and development of the Bliss Network.