New, waxing, full or waning — a new book reveals how to practice self-care during every phase of the lunar cycle
Words by DAKOTA HILLS and SIERRA BRASHEAR
Although we — Dakota Hills and Sierra Brashear — are the founders of a digital wellness company called Moon Bath, we weren’t always such believers in the power of ritual bathing. We were first inspired by a friend whose ornate baths seemed to transport her to other realms, and she came back glowing. We needed to know everything — we wondered, Can bathing actually connect us to the cosmos? Then we tried it. And who knew?! Turns out that tuning in to the guiding force of the moon, setting an aligned intention, and immersing ourselves in warm, herbaceous waters was the medicine we never knew we needed.
Dakota was on her yoga mat during the height of a Scorpio Full Moon when it struck her — for her next mission, she would inspire others to create space for these epic bathing rituals, and the name Moon Bath was beamed in from the stars. Meanwhile, Sierra was on a weekend getaway at her childhood home in the Rocky Mountains, having a bath, and blissing out. She recalled an Ayurvedic teaching that hailed the benefits of immersing yourself in water, salt, and intention, and she thought, The modern world needs to know about this ancient magic!
After your bath ritual, find a comfortable place to reflect on the ways you might be able to surrender more in your life. When we release our grip, we create space for change and shift our perspective and experience. Photos by Emily Nathan.
Our company was created out of a desire to connect more deeply with ourselves and the planet, and we set out on a shared mission to help ignite the modern bathing renaissance. With our desire to absorb the vast healing benefits of plants through our skin, we loved the idea of turning our bathtub into a warm tea, adding a little milk and honey, and then steeping ourselves to drink in the earthly goodness. Combining the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda with modern intuitive alchemy, we created Earth-integrated bathing rituals — as shared in our new title, Moon Bath: Bathing Rituals and Recipes for Relaxation and Vitality ($20, Chronicle Books) — that inspire us to tune inward and reconnect.
Sacred bathing rituals are nothing new. The presence of water has long signified a blessing, and immersing oneself in it, a spiritual act. Our bodies are made up of 85 percent water, which means that when we immerse ourselves in water, its resonance has a profound impact on our own. Because of its unique molecular structure, water responds to the intentions we place within it, and those intentions are powerfully transmuted into our bodies when we bathe.
On a more physical level, bathing in warm water increases circulation of blood and lymph, promotes detoxification, relieves muscle and joint pain, boosts the immune system, and encourages relaxation. Furthermore, given that our skin is our body’s largest organ, bathing also provides an intelligent way to nourish the cells that give us life. Thus, immersing in water infused with the healing powers of salts and botanicals is an opportunity to take in natural medicine that transforms our well-being.
The presence of water has long signified a blessing, and immersing oneself in it, a spiritual act
Despite the allure of the modern world, with all its shiny toys and digital distractions, we are collectively craving a reconnection with the divine influence of the natural world. When we take a moment to pause, we recognize that magic is alive in the places we sometimes forget to look — in the rhythms and elements of nature. The rising and setting of the sun each day, the waxing and waning of the moon each month, and the yearly cycle of the seasons are all an invitation to remember the cosmic clock that guides our existence. The qualities of the five elements — ether, air, fire, water, and earth — are present both within us and in the cycles of the natural world around us.
The four phases of the lunar cycle — New, Waxing, Full, and Waning — correlate to each of the Earth’s four seasons and the elements that influence them. The seasons are a palpable shift we witness as the planet cycles through the process of life and death. Often we feel the effects of the change in moon cycle and season in our energy level, desire to be social, or instinct to go inward. Remember that time you were out and the vibe was a little low? You might be able to blame it on the introspective new moon — next time, stay home and get cozy! Our bodies and minds are affected by the cycles of the moon, and when we listen, we live our best lives.
Practicing a cleansing breath before and during a bath (and at anytime, really!) clears the physical and emotional cobwebs and creates space to revel in the great mystery of life.
PREPARING FOR YOUR MOON BATH
When preparing for your Moon Bath, first gather the necessary supplies to create ease in transitioning through the different practices. Focus on an affirmation — a positive, present-tense statement used to set your intentions into motion (our book includes a suggested affirmation in each chapter) — as you move through each aspect of the ritual, and infuse your intention into the water. Fully immersing in the practices we offer in Moon Bath will help ensure you deeply integrate your ritual.
Anytime we utilize resources from the Earth, we must do so consciously. To create your bath tea, use dried botanicals, or feel free to add fresh ones when they are available to you. If possible, when sourcing the ingredients for your bath, consider purchasing from your local apothecary rather than buying online, and always buy organic. Purchase from a supplier that sources sustainably and is conscious of the impact that cultivating the botanicals has on the people and region from which they come.
If you have the opportunity to gather your botanicals in the wild, please do so with reverence. Gather with intention, perhaps even asking the plant for its permission to be harvested before collecting it — yes, people really do that! Ensure that the plants you collect have not been sprayed with chemicals and that they are thriving in abundance. Never take too much from one spot to ensure that there is plenty left for the bees and future generations.
With our desire to absorb the vast healing benefits of plants through our skin, we loved the idea of turning our bathtub into a warm tea, adding a little milk and honey, and then steeping ourselves to “drink in” the earthly goodness.
As you prepare for your ritual, make sure you have a cozy setup — a warm robe, dry towel, and house slippers are a great place to start. Also, make sure your bathtub is clean. We suggest using gentle, nontoxic cleaning products — consider a blend of baking soda and vinegar. Time your bath to make sure you haven’t eaten within a couple of hours before immersing, as the warm water can disrupt the digestive process. That said, drinking a cup of herbal tea is a lovely way to hydrate and soothe your mind as you soak. Plan on giving yourself 1 to 2 hours for the full experience, with nothing demanding planned immediately after — you’ll want to simply slip into your cozy robe so you can journal and relax.
SET THE MOOD
Anytime you see botanical ingredients in a recipe in our book, you will brew them like a tea before adding the infusion to your bathwater. Steeping the botanicals, using hot water in a French press or teapot, is essential for extracting the medicinal properties from the herbs, because your bathwater is not hot enough. Allow the tea to steep in about 34 ounces of hot water for at least 15 minutes before straining it into your warm bath. This also allows for easy cleanup because you are not adding the flowers directly to your tub — unless of course you want to!
Steep the botanicals for at least 15 minutes to extract the medicinal properties before straining them into your bath. As you offer the infusion to your tub, breathe in the scent and observe the dance as the tea mixes with your bathwater.
The brewing process invites you to watch the dried botanicals come back to life as they expand in the hot water, and to focus on offering your intention to the herbal infusion you’re creating. As you offer the infusion to your tub, take a moment to breathe in the scent and observe the dance as the tea mixes with your bathwater.
Lighting has a big impact on our experience, so make sure it’s set to your liking before you begin your soak. Consider bathing by candlelight or the warm glow of a salt lamp. Music has the ability to take us on a journey, so choose something that speaks to the energy you’re cultivating in each of the different baths. In a few places, we’ve included instrument suggestions to guide your selections. We highly recommend not using your phone while bathing, so adjusting the lighting and music before you immerse is key.
When you fill your tub, pay special attention to the temperature of the water. For a more stimulating bath, you’ll want the water to be on the warmer side. You’ll notice that hotter water will cause an increase in circulation and a flushing of the system. If it’s too hot, however, your heart will race and you’ll want to get out — if this is the case, add cold water. For a more calming bath, fill your tub with water that is closer to your body temperature. In the heat of summer, you might even consider creating a refreshing dip for yourself by drawing a cool bath. The temperature should always feel very comfortable and soothing.
While your bathtub is filling, take a few minutes to engage in the complementary self-care practice we’ve included in each ritual in Moon Bath. Once your tub is full, the vibe is set, and you have added each of the ingredients in your bath recipe, gently step into your Moon Bath. Notice how your energy shifts as you submerge in the healing water.
Soak for 20 to 30 minutes. As you do, close your eyes and allow your senses to awaken as your physical body softens. Let the medicinal waters remind you of the healing power of plants and the value of creating space to reconnect with yourself. Meditate on the affirmation and allow its essence to gently wash over you. When you feel your bath is complete, carefully step out of the tub. If the room is warm enough, consider air-drying so that you fully absorb all of the plant medicine, healing salt and nourishing oils into your skin. Now that you’re in a serene state of mind, curl up with your journal and reflect.
For further guidance in creating a beautiful bathing ritual for yourself, in the comfort of your own home, we urge you to check out our book. After using a lunar calendar to determine the current moon phase, you can discover the bath that is aligned with the current season in your part of the world — that way, you’ll create a powerful ritual that draws on the energy available to you during that exact time of year. Create space, immerse yourself and enjoy the journey as you rediscover the profound influence of nature’s subtle rhythms.
Excerpted and adapted from Moon Bath: Bathing Rituals and Recipes for Relaxation and Vitality ($20, Chronicle Books) by Dakota Hills and Sierra Brashear, the founders of Moon Bath.
Feature image: The New Moon cultivates in us a quiet, receptive energy that opens us up to receive wisdom from our intuitive center of knowing. If we listen to our bodies during this time, we may feel called to sleep more and exert ourselves less. This is a natural part of our body’s rhythmic cycles that mirror the Earth’s rhythms. Photo by Emily Nathan.
Sept. 15, 2020
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