Last updated August 18, 2023
We take you on a journey through steam, breath and water. Explore the ancient art of bathing with these six bath rituals from around the world.
Bathing is a ritual that goes back for centuries at its very basic need, as a form of self-care and right. However, worldly speaking, a bath isn’t a bath, isn’t a bath, nor the same, same.
While each culture has its own bath ritual and meaning behind the bathing and cleansing process, there is a red thread around intent and purpose.
A good soak is the perfect opportunity to reflect inward. A bath ritual is your time to find clarity and let go of the negative, sending it down the drain.
Benefits of a Bath Ritual
As we said above, cultures from all corners of the world have been practicing bathing for centuries.
The oldest known bath (referred to as The Great Bath) dates back to 2500 B.C. in the lost city of Mohenjo-daro, which is in present-day Pakistan. Anthropologists believe that bathing and cleanliness was associated with godliness in this ancient civilization.
Science shows that bathing on a regular basis has many physical and mental benefits such as improved blood circulation, reduced stress, less muscle fatigue and better skin condition.
The spiritual benefits may even outweigh the physical and mental benefits. Some cultures view bath rituals as a sacred vehicle to purify the energy in your soul and create a calming environment for contemplation.
Bath Ritual—the Magic of Water and the Art of Self-Care
When you experience a bath ritual during your travels, you gain insight into the religion, history and customs of a culture.
Here, we explore the ancient art of bathing with this lineup of 6 bath rituals from around the world (plus the addresses where you can try them).
1. Turkish Hammam
A Turkish Bath, or hammam, in Turkey, is a relaxing and rejuvenating bath ritual experience for your skin, body and mental health.
Originally, hammams were a public bathing location, but that has long evolved into more of an authentic Turkish spa experience, with most Turks bathing at home these days.
While each hammam spa can host its own unique appeal, a few unifying factors remain the same in the methods, steps and traditional style.
I had the opportunity to experience a Turkish hammam on a recent trip to Istanbul and I can honestly say my skin hadn’t felt that soft in years.
Address: Euphoria Retreat
Related: Tales from a Turkish Bath
2. Balinese Floral Bath
I’m sure you’ve seen these photos on Instagram, where the entire bath is filled in a beautiful floral petal garden. Or, perhaps you’re hungry, and if you take a step back, it looks a little bit like a pizza.
In any case, the Balinese floral bath is a long tradition of the Balinese culture. The purpose behind this bath ritual is taking all of the aromas and healing oils of the flower petals absorbed onto your skin and a delicious mix of sense and sensual experience.
In addition, this service in therapy helps reduce stress, fatigue and healing your skin naturally.
Address: Fivelements Retreat
3. Mayan Temazcal
Very traditional of the Mayan culture, a temazcal is a rebirthing ceremony of renewal. Representing the womb of Mother Earth, it’s typically a round structure made of cement and stone designed to embody the heat distributed from water and extremely heated stones.
Throughout the experience, which can last anywhere from one hour to three, there are different herbs and medicines provided by the Shaman, who is leading the healing experience.
I personally have done a temazcal before in the Riviera Maya, and I can attest it is an experience like none other, but leaves you feeling cleansed and ready for new experiences and life lessons.
Address: Palmaïa, The House of AïA
4. Japanese Onsen
In Japan, onsen are the country’s hot springs for bathing facilities. The word “onsen” literally means “hot spring” in Japanese.
Fun fact, Japan is known as the world’s number one hot spring country with over 27,000 of them.
What makes it special is the different minerals and properties within the water, which has very beneficial features. This either can be indoor or outdoor, and can leave your skin feeling smooth and soft.
5. Ayurvedic Bath
Ayurvedic medicine aims to balance out our three constitutions, or Doshas: pita, vatta and kapha. In India, bathing represents a cleansing not only of the physical body but also the spiritual soul.
Bathing in ancient India was an elaborate ritual typically performed in the energetically powered rivers such as the Ganges. Nowadays, Ayurvedic baths and rituals can be found in different resorts and locations.
And contrary to other bath rituals, an Ayurvedic bath does not begin with water but in fact, finishes with it.
The specific tinctures and mixtures to be incorporated into the bath will be based on your constitution of the Doshas, which would be determined prior for optimal results. All of this, leaving you feeling restored, balanced and energetically sound after.
Getting its name from “thalassa” meaning sea in Greek, this therapy uses seawater, spa therapy and traditionally salty ocean climate that can improve your health and well-being.
Although you can find these bath rituals throughout Europe, the origin is from Greece.
Traditionally found near locations with a maritime climate where the sea water can be sourced locally, this treatment can improve circulation, joint pain, high doses of minerals nourishing for the body, ease muscle fatigue and improve skin conditions. True Vitamin SEA therapy here.
Address: Mykonos Riviera Hotel & Spa
Incredible how one word “bath” can have so many meanings and depth behind it in the vast world we live in. Observing, what makes each bath ritual unique is what the cultures and zones have been able to source locally to them, healing from nature. Much to learn on that subject and note.
Which one of these bath rituals would you want to try out first?
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