In July, I moved into a lovely two-room studio in Brooklyn. In addition to being cozy (just one closet) and classic, it has something wonderful: a big claw foot tub. Prior to this, I’d never been much of a bath person. Perhaps I took one once every other year. Lately, however, Epsom and Dead Sea salt baths have become an unparalleled, therapeutic form of rest and relaxation.
Prior to falling in love with these simple salts, I was paying an arm and a leg for fancy bath salts at health stores like Whole Foods. When I looked at the basic ingredients and the process involved in making bath salts, I couldn’t rationalize paying such a price. Likewise, some of the dyes used in the store-bought bath salts would linger on my tub’s enamel and have to be scrubbed away.
Therefore, I realized there’s no reason I couldn’t mix my own salt and essential oils. I was thrilled to see how cheap Epsom and Dead Sea salts are to buy in bulk on Amazon.com. (I recently became a Prime member and think $79.99 a year is totally worth it.) Now, I’ll simply take a more cost-efficient salt bath or mix in a few drops of various essential oils to spice it up.
These baths are more than just relaxing. Dead Sea salt soaks are believed to relieve minor aches and pains, as well as rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis. For me, lugging coats and bags around New York in the winter inevitably leads to shoulder and upper back knots and tension. These baths have been just as, if not more, therapeutic than a massage for alleviating such tension. Dead Sea salt also relieves skin disorders such as dry skin, acne, and psoriasis. The increased concentration of magnesium in Dead Sea salt (it has far more than regular ocean water) improves skin hydration and reduces inflammation. It also is believed to prevent wrinkles.
Epsom salt, which is composed of magnesium sulfate, shares the same therapeutic attributes. The name is derived from magnesium rich salts once distilled from springs in Epsom in Surry, England. Epsom salt is also acclaimed for it’s disinfecting qualities. As a child, every time I’d get a splinter in my foot or an infected toenail, my mother would always prepare an Epsom salt soak. The pain and inflammation always reduced. Epsom salt can also be used internally to relieve constipation, and is, incidentally, slightly cheaper than Dead Sea salt. Two pounds, for example, cost about $6, where just over two pounds of Dead Sea salt is $10.
From an eco-aware standpoint, baths do use a lot of water. They’re more conservative than a drawn-out shower, however. To make up for the baths, I try to keep my showers brief.
I also find the tub to be an excellent place to immerse myself in a great book. My partner recently gave me a reading stand that rests across the tub. Not only does it help keep books dry, but it has a wonderful place to rest a cup of tea.
Enjoy your soak! Also check out this Whole Living DIY bath salt from October 2010: wholeliving.com/133666/buy-or-diy-bath-salts
Yoga brings stability and calm into every discipline of Sophie Herbert's life. She is an alignment focused yoga teacher (and perpetual student) and a Whole Living contributing editor. She graduated from the Cooper Union School of Art, where she nurtured her passion for documentary photography. It was during this time that she began her disciplined and diverse study of yoga in New York, Paris, and India.
Sophie has lived, studied, and volunteered extensively in India. She feels grateful to still visit and work regularly with the Deenabandhu Children's Home in Chamarajanagar, Karnataka. In November of 2010, she became an ambassador for Yoga Gives Back www.yogagivesback.org, a grass-roots nonprofit that helps destitute women and girls in India build more sustainable lives. Sophie has also shared her knowledge of yoga at the Prana Yoga Center in Astana, Kazakhstan. Currently, she teaches at the Park Slope Yoga Center www.parkslopeyoga.com in Brooklyn and privately. Sophie is also an avid cook.