Friday, 11 December 2009

UPDATED : 'Wow, I'm superman!' Pre-practice Epsom Salt bath

So I picked up on the Epsom salt bath tip from Boodiba's site. Not just the post practice salt baths but also a pre-practice salt bath.
Pre-practice? Interesting.

The only Epsom salts I could find short notice were a couple of small pots from the Chemist. I had one la
st night after work and then one this morning (Tuesday) before practice. I have my bath pretty hot so had to wait half an hour or so before I unrolled my Manduka.

And then the strangest thing... first Sury felt good, no stiffness, straight down into a deep bend.


Second Sury I pressed to handstand and it was like I was floating up like a balloon. There I was in handstand..
..and still in handstand.....and STILL in handstand. Effortless, I must have been up there for a minute. 'Wow, I'm Superman, I can fly!' In the end I was getting so freaked out about it that I started to laugh, lost my balance and floated back down. What the hell was that all about?

And so it went on, Nice deep stretches throughout Standing, deep deep Paschimotasana from the off, nice floaty jump backs. No problem grabbing my wrist in Mari D, in fact I had to catch myself and mentally check I was in D and not C (lately I've been having to work myself in). The Dwi Pada Sirasana entry to Supta Kurmasana was a breeze and Icouldn't wait for 2nd series LBH's plus the 3rd's I tend to slip in there lately.

On into Intermediate and I was sweating by now but still managed to bind Pasasana at the wrist. Sweat has always been a killer here and I tend to make sure my arms are good and dry before I attempt it otherwise my arm will slip off my knee. Here I was dripping with sweat but still managed to comfortably bind it. Come to think of it I was sweating more t
han usual, was that something to do with the Epsom salt too.

Nice deep Karanada's, slipped in my best Purna M yet after Ardha M and a really wonderful Leg behind head series. Down and up in Karanda and a Mayurasana while sweaty, another posture I tend to have to towel down for.

All in all, probably the best practice I've ever had.

I had a post practice bath with my last post of Epsom salts and feel wonderful. The deepest practice ye,t but not a single ache or twinge anywhere.

I immediately ordered a couple of kilo's off Amazon.

So it works then? Well, going by the above you would think so. I googled Epsom Salt baths trying to find out why it works, does it somehow allow more oxygen to get to your muscles perhaps?

I found this article though which put a bit of a damper on my excitement. It's summed up below.

'The whole article in one paragraph
Epsom salt in your bath is cheap and harmless and it makes bath water feel “silkier,” so there’s no reason to ban it from your life. However, it probably doesn’t do what you hope it’s doing. Although Epsom salt probably does have some physiological effects, it is unknown if there is a therapeutic effect on aches and pains … and somewhat unlikely. Most of the theories you hear are oversimplified and meaningless, and the known effects of Epsom salt don’t have much to do with muscle pain. The belief that it helps could easily be due just to the heat of the bath. The case for the healing powers of Epsom salt are made by people selling the stuff.'

So perhaps it was just the heat of the bath, I've never had a pre-practice bath before, it's possible. I'll need to have a pre-practice without the salts to see, but somehow it all felt a little too magical to just be down to a hot bath.

But try it out yourselves. If it works, stock up on those little white Epsom beauties for when Sharath next comes to town.

UPDATE 1. : The morning after.

I'd wondered how practice would feel this morning without the salt bath. As I kind of expected I was as stiff as usual and it took all of standing to get the kinks out. Perhaps I was a little more stiff than usual. I'd
felt comfortable going deeply into the postures yesterday, maybe I over did it a little, something to remember for next time.

So yesterday, was that what it feels like to do this practice in your twenties? But then maybe the stiffness I experience in the morning isn't due to age but to home practice. At least if your going to a Shala your up and running around for an hour or so before practice, getting to the Shala. Here at hom
e I tend to get up and be my the mat within twenty minutes. Perhaps a quick hot bath before practice through these winter months isn't such a bad idea.


UPDATE 2.
Pre practice hot shower ....... still Clark Kent

UPDATE 3.

Last night i had a hot bath left it half an hour and then ran through some Sury A's and B's, just to see. I did feel looser, better 'warmed up' than usual, but no Superman.

UPDATE 4.

Got up at 6am ran a hot bath with 200g of Epsom Salts. This is about twice as much as last time (only had little 100g pots of the stuff, now I have a kilo). So 15 minute bath, half hour rest to cool down before practice which included some pranayama.

And how was it? Certainly something seems to be going on. Last night after the hot bath I felt loosened up but not particularly stronger. This morning I felt loose but seemed to have that something extra. Wasn't as marvelous as Tuesday, more Spiderman than Superman.

26 comments:

  1. WOW! AMAZING! If I had a bathtub at home, I'd probably attempt it before practice too but that would mean I'd have to wake up at like... er... 3.30am? Don't think I'm THAT crazy hardcore. Yet. (Hmm... I wonder if sitting in the steam room would work as well).

    Dunno what makes up epsom salt, but apparently a bath in sea salt helps to realign/ reset your chakras, so maybe there's a similar thing going on there too? I love it when the practice feels effortless - helps to get your headspace "in the zone" that much easier too. Loved reading this!

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  2. I was wondering as I read if it might just be the heat of the bath too, but I'm willing to believe there's more to it than that!! I have been curing all my aches & pains with regular very hot baths with baking soda (aka bicarb), a tip I got from a fellow twitterer who is also a big advocate of epsom salts (@recoverhealth, she's a homeopath and a kick-ass ashtangi to boot). She said that it alkalizes the body and so is great for healing aches & pains and makes your skin really soft too - I'm sure this added extra will please you Grim ;)

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  3. Hey Grimmly that's hilareous. Especially the superman moment. I was wondering what all the fuss about epson salts was too. Love the superman picture. Seems a bit time consuming as a regular thing and well...why? Curious none the less, look forward to the hot bath comparison.

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  4. hi Grimmy, love your desscriptions, I totally relate to the feeling after the bath, and I haven't even tried it before practice. I cannot believe that the salts would have nothing to do with it... I am choosing to disregard that part and keep on believing... :-)

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  5. Look what I found! Epsom salts have magnesium sulfate as major component which reduces inflammation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnesium_sulfate (I remember Teacher's Assistant telling us to pop magnesium supplements if we're particularly sore after practice too)

    So maybe it's not at all woowoo stuff afterall!

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  6. Morning skippity, yep that's a problem with the pre practice bath. I've tended to avoid anything to do with the whole chakra thing, bit too woowoo as you put it, for me.

    Perhaps it is just the heat of the bath Mel, need to try it, ran out of salts so can give it a go before the kilo form Amazon turns up. I'm open minded about it though, more so than I am about homeopathy say. Wonder if your homeopath uses half of half a grain of salt as opposed to my two big handfuls. And what just because i'm a guy I can't appreciate having soft buttery skin : )

    Ahhh Helen, Why indeed. Maybe we shouldn't need to resort to salt baths. Isn't yoga supposed to be making us feel good. And yet on almost every blog I read I'm coming across aches and pains, twists and strains and loads of different home remedies. This practice we do seems closer to sport training sometimes and perhaps we need to take that on board as well as some of the techniques they use for athletes say, to help prevent injury and prepare the body more for training. Maybe we still have this old idea of gentle yoga in the back of our minds. nothing gentle about Ashtanga.

    I'm wondering if it's to do with home practice and just getting out of bed and jumping on the mat is a bad idea. You practice at home and at a Shala, do you notice a difference in your practice, you must get pretty warmed up getting to the Shala.

    Maybe I should try a hot shower before practice, see what effect that has, quicker too.

    Thanks for the Wikki Skipp'y Originally from England too, in face i used to live down the road from Epsom racecourse.

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  7. It'd be interesting to factor in shower habits: I suspect most people shower before shala? That's my experience, anyhow.

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  8. Definitely agree on the point of getting up & jumping straight on your mat being veeeery different to getting up and travelling to a shala. For me that means shower, coffee, walk to the station (15 min), 10 min on the tube, few more minutes walk to the shala, up the stairs, change and onto the mat about 90min after waking. Totally different experience - but I'm not prepared to get up at 5.20 to practice at home!! p.s. just try bicarb while you're waiting for your salts, 8 tablespoons per bath - about 90p a pot from the supermarket :)

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  9. It works even if there's a couple hours between the bath & getting on the mat at a shala. Even if you have to travel through winter getting from home to shala. Trust me on that one!

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  10. I'm never a believer in the hoo-ha, but epsom salts really really really get my vote. I have lots of anecdotal evidence of baths with them and baths without them, before practice, and they definitely make a difference for me.

    I don't understand why...I mean, the skin is a protective shell, but on the other hand, the skin does allow some things to penetrate into the body. I would love to see a scientific study on muscles before an epsom salt bath versus muscles after, compared with muscles before a regular bath versus muscles after. I would love to see a similar study comparing the chemicals in the blood and lymph before and after the two kinds of baths. I wonder what would be observed.

    In any event, the salts add something to the bath, for sure, and not just a silky feel.

    So, by the way, does rubbing castor oil on the sore parts before the bath. Again, not sure why. But it seems to work. NOT good for the bathtub or the pipes. But good for the sore muscles...

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  11. the more i think about it the less convinced i am that it was just a case of being 'warmed up'. It seemed like my muscles were working more efficiently, which is why I referred to Superman.

    Anyway, going to try the pre practice hot shower tomorrow while yesterdays experience is still strong in my mind.

    I have some caster oil left over from when I had a sore knee so might give that a try too.

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  12. Just my two penn'orth on the topic - my yoga teacher has always advocated a bath with epsom salts after practice which I have tried and enjoyed but haven't it to be any more effective than just a nice hot bath.

    After reading your post, and as a chemist, I thought I would check this out further as I knew that epsom salts are hydrated magnesium sulfate. Magnesium sulfate is used as a muscle relaxant when administered intravenously and was used as an anaesthetic apparently years ago. Seems promising however, the skin is relatively impermiable and even sitting in a bath for some time would not substantially raise your magnesium or sulfate levels (see http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/2001-05/989420739.Me.r.html for more details). I did find some literature that claimed that bathing in epsom salt increased magnesium and sulfate levels in the blood but not by very much taking into account experimental error. In addition this was from www.epsomsaltcouncil.org - make your own minds up.

    That said, Iyengar advises a bath before practice and it doesn't seem to have done him any harm.

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  13. i used to do a quick bath before practice, but that was just so that I'd be, um, presentable to my teacher. Not for my flexibility. I still want to try the salt bath. As a test, you should take a normal bath before practice to see which is better.

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  14. I always have a blasting hot shower in the morning, before getting on the train to get to the shala. But that's more to wake me up rather than warm my muscles up. I don't feel like Superman everyday so don't think that theory works for me.

    I did read that epsom salts can be rubbed all over the body then rinsed off. So Yay! I might try that since I don't have a bathtub. You've got me very intrigued now. http://www.essortment.com/lifestyle/benefitsusesep_skry.htm

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  15. 'At least if your going to a Shala your up and running around for an hour or so before practice, getting to the Shala.'

    You got to be kidding. I am up at 430, brush my teeth, get dressed, have a sip of ribena and then straight into my car to the shala. And have to finish my practice usually by 730 to go to work ( unless I have to start work at 730 ). So being stiff in the morning is pretty normal for me. You mean there are people out there that have time for baths before their shala yoga practice ?

    BTW my camellias love epsom salt. It's what keeps them alive in the summer heatwaves.

    Floss

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  16. Rubbing epsom salt into the body Skippity, isn't that gonna hurt? Tried you link but it didn't seem to go anywhere.
    Sorry Floss, guess i had city Ashtangi's in my head catching public transport rather than jumping in the car. If you get up at 4:30 what time do you actually get on the mat?
    All you yogi's who get up at that time of morning to go off to your practice, and on these cold winter mornings too-Respect!

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  17. That's weird. Title of the article is "Benefits & uses of epsom salt" from: http://www.essortment.com/lifestyle/benefitsusesep_skry.htm

    The paragraph in particular says:
    "You can also rub Epsom salts all over the body, while wet, then rinse and towel off. Rubbing Epsom salts directly on the body exfoliates skin and leaves it smooth and silky. They make a great gift to give someone when you put them in a nice glass jar with lid and tie on a pretty ribbon. You can add scent to them by sprinkling them with essential oil. Or mix Epsom salts with baby oil and keep by the sink if you wash your hands a lot. The combination can be used on the face, too, to treat dry skin problems. Cleanse your face with Epsom salts mixed with half a teaspoon of salts and your regular cleansing cream."

    (Since you bought a kilo, you can re-gift it as suggested for Christmas. HAHAHA.)

    ReplyDelete
  18. hi Grimmly
    congratulations. i will have to figure out how to ask for it in Chinese, and pick up some during my Xmas holidays back home. there is a bathtub here, but it's so huge i feel like i'm wasting a lot of water when i use it. i've used it after strenuous days when i've walked all over the city. hadn't thought of doing it pre-practice.
    i shower before and after practice. in the past i have added almond oil before lathering with soap. a few years back i tried the once a week lathering with oil recommended in India. but it's too cumbersome, since you have to remove the oil with ground up seeds. too messy.
    cheers,
    Arturo

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  19. Hmmmm...I should give the Mysore bucket bath a try, ya? Gosh, I have not touched a bathtub for ages...

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  20. Ahhh Skippity, so that's what Lois Lane really saw in Superman, his smooth and silky skin. i must add some to my regular cleansing cream : )

    Arturo, you could always use the bath water to flush the loo, then you might not feel so bad. Want to try the slathering myself in caster oil and then jumping in the epsom salt bath and seeing what that does....what am I saying !!!!

    Mysore bucket bath napper?

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  21. OK, I have to try this now. Woowoo aside (I have a chemistry degree and a biology degree), I'd love an excuse to take a bath. I don't remember the last time...

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  22. this cracked me up... "So yesterday, was that what it feels like to do this practice in your twenties?"

    I can't imagine how my younger body would have handled this practice. I suspect the recovery time would be a lot shorter!

    So Epsom salt is the fountain of youth. ha ha! (I use it, but never tried it before practice. I'll give it a go sometime)

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  23. So lew, what does the bio/chemist in you say about all this? I'm starting to wonder now, what if it was just aone of those really good practices where everything came together and nothing to do with the ruddy salts at all. Tomorrow I'm going to have a pre practice salt free bath and then have one with the Salt before practice on Sunday, tres scientific no?

    I'm not sure what will be worse finding out it's all stuff an nonsense or finding that it really does work. I mean if it feels great again Sunday then I'll be hooked, a salt junkie and wont want to practice without my morning MgSO4 hit.

    Yeah liz in my twenties we'd be doing this practice after twelve pints and then popping down the cafe afterwards for a fried breakfast, perhaps a quick puff on a fag between Sury's and while in utpluthii.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hi Grimmly,

    I usually get on my mat at 515 am. ANd I go straight into my suryas. No time for warm up poses. My practice takes about 2 hours at the moment ( primary and second to eka pada ) and I like a long 'take rest'. Noprospect of splitting in the near future, my teacher doesn't believe in splitting unless you can do everything up to pincha mayurasana properly and it will be years before I can get my leg to stay behind my head.

    I agree with Arturo about the water usage thing because I am living in a drought in the driest state of the driest continent.

    Floss

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  25. The new Maehle book has a long section (fifteen pages) on LBH, Floss. He has some preparation/training ideas as well. I've never really understood 'splitting' Whenever i hear it mentioned i want to shout 'SPLITTER!' re Python's Life of Brian

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  26. I'm sold on the epsom salt baths. I've done three days of three primary w/pre-practice bath and they have all been MARVELOUS. I'm all rubbery instead of vaguely cement-like in the surys, and it carries right through to the end. I'm very cold-natured anyway, for example I often practice these days with a cashmere sweater on, and I never sweat. I had the thought today that the salt-bath is like a bit of artificially induced tapas for me. All this sweat and heat I hear people talking about I have yet to experience much of--but then I'm cold when it's 80 degrees outside. I remember a single bead of sweat last August when it was 90 degrees and I was mid-practice and getting all excited, "Ah! Inner heat!" Lol.
    Anyway, I love these baths, and then the kids play in the water while I practice, which means a quiet living room for a bit. Bonus!

    ReplyDelete

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A Reminder

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included.

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta
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