Having returned from a Christmas skiing in Austria, I feel rather smugly healthy and rejuvenated. This may have been to do with the mountain air and skiing, and most definitely not to do with the hot chocolates and strudels, but largely due to the daily retreat to the hotel spa before dinner every night.
Our hotel had an array of saunas, steam rooms, relaxation rooms, ice bucket showers and pools which one could meander between completely naked, and sweat away the aches and pains from the days skiing.
The combination of being nude, the intense temperature contrasts, drinking copious amounts of water, and emptying ones mind from the day, created a feeling of complete freedom of the body and soul.
This awakening of the senses would leave anyone feeling a million dollars.
This has led me to question our lifestyle choices and make a personal choice to set more time aside every evening to light a scented candle, relax the body with a hot bath and scrub (at least). How is it that the ancient ritual of bathing, steaming and cleansing is such an unsexy and stripped down affair for so many individuals living in London? Many of us choose to have showers, and not baths at all, due to time and space restrictions, treating it as a purely functional need to wash and yet simultaneously losing the spiritual and holistic experience.
Throughout time bathing has had a rich history: the Romans had daily bathing rituals consisting of many different temperature rooms from the frigidarium to the caladium, and pools to submerge in afterward. Turkish baths were equally elaborate, and as I recently discovered in Germany and Austria Communal Saunas, Steam Rooms and Bathing is more common than in England. Surely as our urban lifestyles have become more frenetic and stressful the bathing ritual should play a more important role as an antidote to our pressured lives? Thinking of such things has unleashed a creative desire to create more opulent and indulgent bathing areas in our homes.
Bathing or showering areas should be sensual places where one can mentally as well as physically cleanse and unwind, and if one has the space, a steam room or sauna is a great way to complete a hard days work. A great view over nature also allows for the mind to relax, drift and escape into the wilderness.
The Wood materials in alpine bathing areas add a sense of warmth in an area which often runs the danger of looking stark and cold with purely tiled or hard surface treatments, although warm tones, candles or fabrics can also soften cold spaces.
Its time to bring some bathing rituals back into everyday life!