The Turkish bath or hamman (the root of which means "to heat") draws on the benefits of steam and sweat. Sweat will carry toxins from the system, and as your pores become open and receptive, so will your mind. To create your own Turkish bath, you'll need:
- A candle (optional)
- Eucalyptus leaves or oil
- A loofah or body brush
- A dipping cup or bowl
- Mint tea (optional)
Close your bathroom door and any bathroom windows that might be open. Turn the lights low, or illuminate your bathroom with a single candle. The dim light mingled with the steam will lend a relaxing enchantment to your bathroom.
Draw yourself a hot bath, trapping all the steam within the room.
Toss a couple of eucalyptus leaves or a few drops of eucalyptus oil into the water for cleansing and purification, as the ancient Turks did.
The room should be steamy by the time you enter the tub. You'll feel the moisture thickening the air.
Traditionally, a Turkish bath guide would let out a shout to banish any demons that might reside in the steam. You might try letting out an audible sigh, relaxing your shoulders and mind, to prepare for your bath.
Once you are comfortably settled in the water, take a loofah or body brush and start scrubbing your skin to remove dead cells. The steam from the water will enhance this exfoliating process.
Dip your cup or bowl into the bathwater and pour it over your neck, back, shoulders and arms.
When you're done, lie back in your steamy eucalyptus retreat and relax, breathing in the moist, misty air. If you like, sip a cup of warm mint tea, as the Turks do after their bathing respite.
Reprinted from Soothing Soaks: Relaxation for the Bath by Laurie Welcher (Chronicle Books, 2000).