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Bathing for Radiant Health

by Samm Kweku Richardson(more info)

listed in exercise and fitness, originally published in issue 165 - December 2009

A great mass of people, even in this century, do not understand the importance of bathing. The easy access to the bath-tub in large cities has, in a measure, educated people up to at least a partial use of water on the outer surface of the body, but, on the whole, bathing is not given the place it should occupy in daily life.

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In his natural state, man did not need the frequent use of the bath. The rains beat upon his uncovered body and the bushes and trees brushed against his skin, keeping it free from gathered-up waste matter which the skin is continuously throwing off. And then, the primitive man, like the animals, always had streams handy, and followed his natural instinct, which impelled him to take a plunge once in a while. But the use of clothing has changed all this, and man today, although his skin is still at work throwing off waste matter, is unable to get rid of the waste in the old way. Instead, he allows it to pile up on his skin and consequently suffers physical discomfort and disease.

Why Should People Bathe?

The skin needs to be cleansed. If the pores of the skin become clogged or closed, it simply means that the body is unable to get rid of its waste matter and the kidneys are overworked detrimentally. Each pore is the end of a little canal called a sweat-tube, which extends way down into the surface of the body. There are about 3,000 of these little canals to each square inch of our skin. They are continually exuding a moisture called perspiration, or sweat, which moisture is really a fluid secreted from the blood and laden with the impurities and waste matter of the system. The body is constantly tearing down tissue and replacing it with new matter, and it must get rid of its waste just as a family must get rid of its waste sweepings and garbage. And the skin is one of the means by which the waste is removed. If this waste is allowed to remain in the system, it acts as a breeding place and food for bacteria, germs, etc., and that is why nature is so anxious to get rid of it.
The skin itself, which also exudes an oily fluid for keeping it soft and flexible, is constantly undergoing great changes in its structure. The outer skin, often called the scarf-skin, is composed of cells which are short-lived and are constantly being sloughed off and replaced by younger cells, forcing their way up from beneath the old ones. If they are not brushed off or washed off, these worn-out and discarded cells form a coating of waste matter on the surface of the skin. Of course, quite a number of them are rubbed off by the clothing but a considerable quantity remain, and that is why a bath or a wash is needed to get rid of them!
Indeed, it is important to keep the pores open by regular bathing. The accumulation of worn-out cells, oil, perspiration, etc. will at least partially seal up the pores unless the body is kept clean. A man would soon die if his pores were sealed, as shown by experiments and past occurrences.

Basic Bathing Principles

Basic 1: Everyone should wash off their body at least once a day. A bath-tub, although a great convenience, is not necessary, but a good wash-off is requisite. Those who do not have a bath-tub can get just as good results by taking a towel and a basin and passing the wet towel over the entire body, rinsing the towel after the first rub and then going over the body the second time;
Basic 2: The most desirable time for a wash-off or a bath is in the early morning, immediately after arising. The evening bath is also a good thing;
Basic 3:  Never bathe immediately before or immediately after a meal;
Basic 4: Give the body a good rubbing with a rough cloth which will act to loosen up the dead skin and stimulate blood circulation;
Basic 5:  Never take a cold bath when the body is cold;
Basic 6:  Exercise yourself a little for some warmth before taking a cold bath;
Basic 7:  In taking a plunge bath, always wet the head before getting the body under water – then, wet the chest and then plunge in.
A favourite Yogi practice after taking a cold bath, or a cool one, is to rub the body vigorously with the hands, instead of using a towel, and then getting into dry clothes with the body still covered with moisture. Instead of this making one feel cold, as some might imagine, it produces just the opposite effect. A feeling of warmth is experienced immediately after the clothing is on, which is increased by a gentle exercise, which the Yogis always take immediately after the bath. This exercise is not violent and is discontinued as soon as one feels a gentle glow all over the body.

Watch The Water

Right here, I advise against adopting a too cold bath at the start. Don't do this, particularly if you are of impaired vitality. Try water at a pleasant temperature at first, and then work down toward a little cooler, gradually. You will soon strike a degree of temperature that is most pleasing to you – stick to that. This morning cool wash-down should be a thing of pleasure to you, not a punishment or a penance. When you have once caught the 'knack' of it, you would never think of giving it up. It makes you feel good all day long. You feel a little cool as the wet cloth is applied to the body, but this is followed in a moment by a most delightful reaction and a feeling of warmth. In case you take a cool bath in the tub, instead of a wash-down, do not stay in the tub more than one minute, and use your hands vigorously the whole time that you are in the water.
If you take these morning washes, you will not need many warm baths, although an occasional 'soaking' will do you good, and you will feel better for it. Give yourself a good rubbing down and put on your clothing over a dry skin (in the case of a warm bath).
Persons doing much walking or standing will find that a foot bath at night just before retiring will prove most restful and conducive to a good night's sleep.

The Yogi Morning Wash-Down

The following may give you some ideas regarding the way to get the best results from the morning wash-down. It is very invigorating and strengthening, and will make you feel the beneficial effect all the day.
It begins with a little exercise which causes the blood to circulate and the 'prana'  (vital life force) to be distributed all over the body, after the night's rest, and renders the body in the best condition in which to take the cool wash-down or bath.
Preliminary Exercise:

  1. Stand erect in a military attitude, head up, eyes front, shoulders back, hands at sides;
  2. Raise the body slowly on toes, inhaling a deep breath, steadily and slowly;
  3. Retain the breath for a few seconds, maintaining the same position;
  4. Sink slowly to the first position, at the same time exhaling the breath through the nostrils, slowly.
  5. Practise the Cleansing Breath as follows – Inhale a complete breath – R. Retain the air a few seconds – Pucker up the lips as if for a whistle (but do not swell out the cheeks), then exhale a little air through the opening, with considerable vigour. Then stop for a moment, retaining the air, and then exhale a little more air. Repeat until the air is completely exhaled. Remember that considerable vigour is to be used in exhaling the air through the opening in the lips;
  6. Repeat Number one to five several times – about 3 to 5 times will suffice.
Then, take the bath or wash-down, as described in the foregoing. If you prefer the wash-down, fill the basin with cool water (not too cool, but just a pleasant stimulating temperature which will bring on the reaction). Take a rough cloth or towel and soak it in the water, and then wring about half the water out of it. Beginning with the chest and shoulders, then the back, then the abdomen, then the thighs and then the lower legs and feet, rub the body all over vigorously. Wring the water out of the towel several times in going over the body, in order that the entire body shall receive fresh cool water upon it. Pause a second or so several times during the wash-down, and take a couple of long deep breaths. Do not be in too much of a rush, but go about it calmly. Initially, the cool water may cause you to shrink a little, but you will soon get used to it and will learn to like it. Do not make the mistake of commencing with too cool water, but rather work down the temperature by degrees. If you prefer the tub to the wash-down, half fill the tub with water of the proper temperature, and kneel in it while you do the rubbing, then plunge the whole body under the water for a moment and then get out at once.
Following either the wash-down or the tubbing, one should rub the hands vigorously over the body several times. There is something in the human hands which cannot be duplicated by a cloth or towel. Try it for yourself. Leave a little moisture on the surface of the skin, and then get into your underclothes at once, and you will be surprised at the peculiar glow which will come over you. Instead of the water making you feel chilly, you will experience a peculiar feeling of warmth on all parts of the body covered by the clothing, under which a little moisture has been left on the skin.
In the case of either wash-down or tubbing, follow the wash or bath with the following exercise, after the underclothing has been put on: 

Concluding Exercise

  1. Stand erect; stretch out arms straight in front of you, on the level of the shoulders, with fists clenched and touching each other; swing back the fists until the arms stand out straight, sideways, from the shoulders (or still a little farther back if they will go there easily without forcing) – this stretches the upper part of the chest; repeat several times and then rest a moment;
  2. Resume the closing position of (1), the arms straight out, sideways, from the shoulders; the arms still extending from the sides, on a level with the shoulders, swing the fists around in circles, from the front to the back – then reverse, and swing from the back to the front – then vary it by rotating them alternately, like the arms of a windmill; repeat several times;
  3. Stand erect, raise the hands over the head; hands open, and thumbs touching; then without bending the knees try to touch the floor with the tips of the fingers – if you are unable to do this, do the best you can; return to first position;
  4. Raise yourself on the balls of your feet, or your toe-joints, several times, with a sort of a springy motion;
  5. Standing, place your feet about two feet apart, then sink slowly to a squatting position, for a moment, then resume original position. Repeat several times.
  6. Repeat No: 1, several times;
  7. Finish with the Cleansing Breath.
This exercise is not as complicated as it appears at first reading. It is really a combination of five exercises, all of which are very simple and easily performed. Study and practise each section of the exercise, before you take the bath, and master each part thoroughly. Then it will run like clockwork and will take a few moments to perform. It is very invigorating, calling into play the entire body, and will make you feel like a new man or woman, if you take it just after the bath or wash-down.
The wash-down of the upper part of the body in the morning gives you strength and vitality throughout the day, while a wash-down of the body from the waist down (including the feet) at night is very refreshing and gives your body a good rest during the night's slumber.
Remember, practice makes a man perfect!


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About Samm Kweku Richardson

The author is a 48 year-old Ghanaian male freelance writer based in Accra, the capital city of the Republic of Ghana in West Africa. Married with children, his hobbies include writing, cooking, gardening, playing the piano, watching the sea, listening to the BBC World Service on radio, reading novels and watching crime and detective films. His sporting interests are boxing, judo and table tennis. On the side, he operates a small restaurant in town. He can be contacted on

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