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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Oil bath - எண்ணெய் குளியல் - சனி நீராடு

Auvaiyaar (ஔவையார்) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avvaiyar one of the greatest philosopher-poets from Tamil nadu has created many works and one of them is Aathichudi (ஆத்திசூடி), in which she urges us "சனி நீராடு" which means "Take oil bath on Saturdays". Her words are always attributed with divinity and I just want you to wonder along with me as to what did she find so useful that she requested us to take Oil bath on Saturdays, among others. That sounds silly? But not when you complete reading this blog - hopefully!

I am not sure about your childhood but I can vouch that taking oil bath is one of the hated things during my childhood but neither my parents nor my grandma had any consideration for our objections and they used to force us. The way it used irritate our eyes was the prime reason why we hated it so much.

So what is oil bath? Coconut / herbal / Til Oil (traditionally its Gingelly Oil - நல்லெண்ணெய்) is applied all over the body especially on Saturdays and you take bath with Shikai powder (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acacia_concinna). This was a tradition in most of the families I know and was a strict regimen.

Lets looks at some of the basics and then its benefits.
  • Ayurvedic view of life is that every being is a unique combination of 5 elements (Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth). These 5 elements combine to form three doshas (Vata - Combination of Air and Space , Pitta - Combination of Fire and Air and Kapha - Combination of Earth and Water). You can google for more. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dosha   
  • Each living organism is a unique combination of this and your unique combinations are classified under 10 categories. You can find out what is your combination. (This is just a sample http://www.drsanjeevsood.com/TridoshaTest/index.html)
  • The 3 gunas (Rajas, Tamas, Satvic), the 3 doshas as above, the 6 tastes and the 12 months are all interrelated and you can again google to find out this interesting correlation.
  • Disease according to Ayurveda is primarily because of the imbalance in any of the 3 doshas. 
  • Thiruvalluvar had a gem of a Kural which explained this: "மிகினும் குறையினும் நோய் செய்யும் நூலோர் வளி முதலா எண்ணிய மூன்று". This means any increase / decrease of the three doshas create disease according to experts / doctors.
  • Hence it is very important as to how you keep them in balance. You can keep Vata under control by taking laxatives / purgatives regularly aka "Virechana" in Ayurveda. This cleans the large intestine and colon. Recommended twice a year.
  • You can keep Pitta under control by emetic means. Ayurveda prescribes "Vaaman dhauti" and this cleans the stomach, small intestine and the esophagus. Recommended once a month. 
  • You can control Kapha by taking Oil bath. Kapha is the water component in the body and is seated in the head, neck region. But why is controlling Kapha more important than Vata or Pitta that the great poet found it necessary to mention it in her works?
  • Probably for the reason that the body has an inherent mechanism to create a balance for Pitta or Vata either through occasional or event based diarrhea or puking, but it does not have a mechanism to eliminate Kapha, at least not so effective.
  • A human being when he is born is grown by the quality of vata (till the age of 40) and between 40 to 80 he is protected by the quality of pitta and then he is killed by Kapha (after 80 years... this is assuming a human being would live for 120 years.). Hence balancing Kapha is very important for longer life.
Benefits:
  • If you notice the best of the treatments for anti-ageing or healing lies in ensuring that the effects of gravity on the body is reversed or neutralized. Remember Sirasasana is the king of asanas. Blood which always flows easily to the lower parts of the body but Oil bath ensure that blood flows easily to your head. This is a great boon to people who can't perform the head stand pose.
  • Maintaining a cool head is not just about the EQ of an individual but also has an impact on health, ageing and even as to how long we live. Oil bath obviously cools the head, body and eyes, restores youth, vigor in an individual and also stops early balding or loss of hair. Increase in body heat is damaging for many of the internal organs and hence Oil bath is a boon as it acts as a thermostat.
  • Eyes are the seat of the sun (per Ayurveda) and excess Kapha is the enemy of good vision. Blood to the eyes flow through very thin vessels and when the body / head is hot the blood flow is constricted to the eyes and hence the vision is affected leading to sore eyes or burning sensation in the eyes. Watering from eyes during the bath is good for the eyes though it is very irritating.
  • Men should take bath on Wednesdays or Saturdays only before 8 AM. Females should follow this on Tuesdays and Fridays only. 
  • The don'ts are as follows:
    • You are not supposed to take bath on other days and may lead to cold and cough including deficiency in eyesight if you take bath on Sundays.
    • Never take bath after 10AM even on all the days including the prescribed days. 
    • Don't sleep in the afternoon and avoid having sex on this day.
    • Avoid eating cold items on that day. 
    • This is generally not advised for people who have sinus or frequent cold attacks. Check out with your doctor before doing this.
  • Traditionally they add lot of herbs to the oil and heat it. You can buy this preparation and heat the oil or use pure Til or coconut oil. Allow the oil to cool down to room temperature before applying this.
  • One Siddhar in his poem says the secret for living for 120 years. "நாள் இரண்டு, வாரம் இரண்டு, மாதம் இரண்டு , வருடம் இரண்டு."
    "Twice Daily, Twice Weekly, Twice Monthly , Twice Yearly"
    Here twice weekly is asking you to take Oil bath two times a week. 
The number of life style related disorders and diseases are on the rise and this is primarily attributed to us either ignoring or staying ignorant to our healthy ways of life which has been traditionally followed. We are fine to spend Rs. 1000/-+ for an Ayurvedic massage without understanding its benefits. It is important that we are rational in our approach to reject traditions which has been followed for long and ignored in the name of modern lifestyle, 21st century civilization or as superstition.

The reason I wrote about this is today is it is a tradition to take Oil bath on the day of Diwali before sunrise and if you not taken bath yesterday, I hope you would start this from the coming Friday / Saturday.

Oil bath keeps you cooler, younger, better invigorated, with better vision, without baldness, increases your life span and as a well oiled machine :).

If you are ignorant as i had been for long then this blog may help. I would be happy if you decide to do this to your kids and inculcate this habit and continue the tradition. Under the pretext of superstition or life style definitions let us not deprive the future generation of the benefits of our traditional secrets. We have the responsibility to pass them on.

Happy reading!    

51 comments:

  1. Very nice thoughts on Oil Bath and further pointers to ayurvedic concepts. I know OIL bath and its benefits, but i dint know it has to be done on a saturday morning. Will follow that whenever i do.

    God Bless U.

    ReplyDelete
  2. what if i tkae this bath on sundays . . is there any side effects of it . . i dont have time on other days

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    Replies
    1. Dear Anonymous

      Ayurveda / Sidha systems donor recommend oil bath on Sundays for 2 reasons. 1. Your eye sight will be affected if you take bath on Sundays. 2. You may lose your beauty and start looking older. I can't find any correlations to this. But my understanding is every action has a cause and effect and more importantly has a time and space value. Oil bath is like a medical treatment and we have to follow prescriptions. :)

      The other benefit I did not highlight in this article is after oil bath our skin would be energized to receive vitamin D from sunlight. Hence taking oil bath regularly is also associated with good bone health.

      Delete
    2. is there any rationale is using the word "Time and Space value"... Is our siddha talking about this...?

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    3. IS there a reason, behind the words "Time and space value"............ Is there any manuscript talking about this....!!

      Delete
    4. All events are correlated for space and time in Hinduism... no rituals in this world is prescribed without this framework.

      Delete
    5. There lunar days and solar days in a week,where the moon and sun are dominant respectively. The reason why you should not take oil bath by Sunday is sun is more dominant than other solar days,oil bath produces an auric field which wont allows any radiation from planets. The sun's radiation plays an important role to enhance our vison anti aging and further more. If you take oil bath at Sunday. Sun's radiation couldn't penetrate the auric field, this why you should not bath at Sundays and other solar days, where as in lunar days the oil bath itself provide the necessary cool to our body the auric field helps other unwanted radua to stop, there by you can live more than 100 years.

      I wish you to take oil bath twice a week for good health.

      Give the money to the oil man not to the doctor

      Delete
  3. Dear Rags, I have searched the net and I couldn't get a good article compared to this. It was well written with useful details.
    I have been told by one Astrologer to take oil bath daily. Also, he mentioned that I should not take direct Gingelly oil, but should boil it with some herbs and should use, since I have Sinusitis.
    I will appreciate if you can share anything on this. Thanks a lot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am also surprised that you have been asked to take oil bath when you have sinus issues. I would seriously request you to consult an Ayurvedic doctor and not an astrologer for such issues. Adding herbs is a matter of choice which you can do if you want to.

      Delete
  4. Hi Murugan

    Thanks for your time and comments. I do not agree that oil bath should be taken daily. Twice a week on specified days - that's what is right as per my knowledge. It is a practice typically in colder places to warm the oil up before applying. The reason is oil tends to be cold in colder climates, so they warm it up and then it has to come to room / body temperature before it is applied. Oil should not be applied when it is higher or lower than body temperature.

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  5. Hi, thanks a lot.. nice article. Can i take oil bath with cold. I mean if my head is heavy with cold , and my nose is running, can i still take oil bath. I used to take every Sat. But some times endup with cold(Living in cold regions of USA.) So not sure either i can take oil bath or not while having cold

    And also you mentioned to take bath before 8 am. Here at my place the sun rise vary from 5 am to 8 am depending upon either summer or winter. What is the best time to take oil bath.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Ganesh

      Thanks for the comments. I shall recommend the following:

      1. Understand your prakurti. Simple questions can help you find it and you can refer to the link above.
      2. Typically people with heavy KAPHA Prakriti suffer from cold related diseases or more prone to cold / head aches etc.
      3. It also depends in what is the nature of weather, water and sunlight.
      4. If you already have cold related issues please avoid oil bath for now and consult an Ayurvedic doctor.
      5. You can start having oil bath based on his advice, typically after eradicating cold / flum from your body.
      6. The objective of oil bath and 8am is, Gingelly oil after application you need to be exposed to mild sunlight typically till 8 am in south India. The benefits are immense. The sunlight + oil helps your body to absorb vitamin d and there by strengthening the bones. Please try to read and understand how body absorbs calcium and when you understand it you will realize its benefit.
      7. The other option I want to suggest is to take oil back from neck below if you have cold. This way you can avoid cold related issues and still derive its benefits (some of).

      Regards

      Delete
  6. Thanks a lot for your detailed response. It helps me. But still i wish to have a contact of good Ayurvedic doctor. As you know , i don't know anyone here. Could you please refer a Dr. I'm not sure either you could provide consultation. Tried to get your contacts. But its not available at your profile. Thanks again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, i don't have contacts for Ayurvedic doctors and I don't know where you live. I suggest google and do some home work and I am sure you would land on the right one. All the best.

      Delete
  7. Thank you for the updates on oil bath. With info from thirukural and Auvaiyaar, this information is really great.

    Please keep providing such useful updates (I guess Indians are forgetting our ancient procedures, since they are busy hunting for money).

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  8. Hi Thanks for your article. It was useful reading it. I work for nigh shifts so i normally get up around 9:00 AM ,so it advised to take oil bath on Tuesday's and Fridays' after 9:00 Am

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. May i suggest that You compromise ur sleep for just once a Week...

      Delete
  9. Thanks for the informations. i also need to know like on which days we should not take oil bath. some say that on full moon and new moon days and on kirthigai its not recommended to take oil bath. Is that true?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. Our elders have put restrictions on full and new moon days. I am not aware of krithigai...

      Delete
  10. Thanks a lot for this excellent blog....

    I have a question.I have recently started taking oil bath twice a week (Wednesday and Saturday). I am also doing yogasanas an hour per day. One of my friend says I am not supposed to do yogasanas on these oil bath days after oil bath (or) I should not take oil bath at all if I need to do yogasanas. Is this true? If true, can i do yoga first on these days and after 30 min, can i take oil bath...?

    I like both oil bath and yogasanas and not willing to spare one for the other.

    Please guide.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also do yogasanas. As long as you do yoga with proper warm down exercises like Shavasana and then give gap between bathing and yoga... i do not see any issues. Atleast i have not felt any. Please talk to your body and see.

      Delete
  11. what does "Twice Weekly, Twice Monthly , Twice Yearly" mean?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Defecating = Twice daily
      Oil Bath = Twice weekly
      Sex = Twice monthly
      Cleaning of large intestines by natural laxatives = twice yearly
      All the best.

      Delete
  12. I feel really sleepy after taking the bath?Is it good to take a nap .So that it releases all the stress.

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  13. hi it is nice,

    After apply oil how much time i should wait to take a oil bath?

    if i have an neck pain, can i take a oil bath?

    ReplyDelete
  14. hi
    this is nice articles. what happens when girls take head bath on saturday??????
    plz tell me.i thought both male and female can take head bath on saturday for its good result...

    ReplyDelete
  15. hi
    what happens when female take head bath on saturdays????plz tell me.i thought both male and female can take headbath on saturdays to get its good result...so plz reply me..

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you for the article and it was informative.

    Today i took oil bath in the afternoon and decided to take it every week. I was curious to know the benefits which is when i read your article.

    My father advised me to take it early morning just as said in this article.

    Still, i couldn't comprehend why sat or wed!!. As said, it is a prescription and hence will follow it.

    Thanks again!.

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  17. Really nice to know the actual benefits

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  18. Can we take oil bath on april 14 tamil new year

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  19. Very interesting things to know about traditional way of life style which we all forget or don't know. Thank you so much for sharing this detail.

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  20. Thank you for this valuable information. I would like to ask if it's okay for women to take oil bath on Saturday?

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  21. Thank you for this valuable information. I would like to know if it's okay for women to take oil bath on Saturday?

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  22. Dear Sir, mustard oil also good for oil bath ?

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  23. Can you please tell howlong the gingelli oil shall be kept in the head and body. some people say one hour and some say 15minutes. Not sure on what is correct. After applying the oil what shall be the best practice like keep the eye closed and goes on meditation

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  24. Good article. I have seen that taking oil bath when you suffer from cold and caugh are subsiding it gives very good results.Moreover if we take oil bath twice a week hair growth is fantastic. Hair fall is minimum.eyesight also very good.

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  25. please tell the meaning of the other things also in "Twice Daily, Twice Weekly, Twice Monthly , Twice Yearly"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Defecating = Twice daily
      Oil Bath = Twice weekly
      Sex = Twice monthly
      Cleaning of large intestines by natural laxatives = twice yearly

      Delete
  26. Sir,Few months before,i took oil bath at 7 O clock night (dont remember the day). Since then, i am suffering with severe sleeping disorder.tried many,nothing happned.Did i something wrong ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope you are better now. If not please consult a doctor.

      Delete
  27. Excellent, thanks for sharing.

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  28. im catching cold after til oil bath ..though i just leave it for 10 minutes... how can i avoid this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pls consult a local ayurvedic doctor. Doctors do not recommend oil bath for people who catch frequent cold.

      Delete
  29. I need one clarification, I was born on Saturday, so I will take oil bath on Saturday or not?

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  30. Hi

    As per the instructions, it is said that after oil bath we are not supposed to eat cold.. so my doubt is in my office there runs AC.. So if I take bath morning nd go to office..will there be a problem?

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  31. Sir for gents though Wednesday and Saturday are important, Saturdays are important for oil bath. For ladies though Tuesday and Fridays are there which day is more important??

    ReplyDelete