Welcome to day fifteen of my 30 Days of Ayurveda series! Throughout these blogs and videos, I will be sharing some upbeat thoughts and wellness tips, as well as some Ayurvedic tricks and food recommendations to help you lead a balanced life.
During quarantine, many of us are experiencing a lot of highs and lows, this makes me think of the Hot Water Bottle Remedy! Some people are referring to the good days and bad days as the ‘corona-coaster’, which I think is pretty apt. I was reflecting on what item I tend to reach for in my household when any of us are feeling particularly low, and more often than not, it’s the hot water bottle. We will snuggle up with it, wrap ourselves up in a blanket, and simply hunker down for a while.
The wonderful thing about water bottles is the movement and warmth of the water as it is compressed into us: it literally feels like someone is giving us a warm hug! This can engender a nice, warm feeling within us; a soothing feeling that everything is going to be alright, that it’s all going to be okay, and that we are going to get through this.
For this very reason, Ayurveda uses heat quite a lot in its treatments. For example, we will heat oil before we apply it to the skin. Have you ever had an experience where either you or another person has put oil on you that is cold as opposed to warm? When the oil is cold, you will often draw backwards, but when it is warm, it instead feels very soft and calming.
In Ayurveda, we like to apply warmth to the body…..
Whether that is through warm oil or a warm compress, we find that the body responds really well to heat: it immediately softens and relaxes so more healing can take place. If you are suffering with a stiff neck or tight shoulders from a recent stress or strain, simply massage a little bit of warm oil into the top of the shoulders and then place your hot water bottle onto it for about ten minutes. The same can also be done if you have lower back ache.
If you have been suffering from abdominal tummy ache or slight bloating, I often suggest using a ‘warm’ bottle as opposed to a ‘hot’ bottle. Aim for a rough temperature of 70 degrees, then hold it onto the abdomen for about ten minutes. This is often enough to dispel the gas and take any distension out of the abdomen.
So why does hot water bottle remedy help to soothe pain?
First, applying heat to a sensitive area causes blood vessels to dilate. This increases blood flow, thus bringing more oxygen and nutrients to damaged tissue. Second, heat blocks your body from sending pain signals to your brain. Researchers from University College London found temperatures over 40 degrees activate internal heat receptors, blocking the effect of chemical messengers that cause the body to detect pain. Finally, heat also helps to stretch soft tissues and relax sore muscles, which promotes flexibility.
Over the next 30 days, I will be sharing even more tips and tricks to help you build some great Ayurvedic routines. Hopefully, they will soon be imbedded in your life and you can progress with them. Be sure to let me know how you’re getting on, and why not share how using a water bottle has helped you? Find me on Instagram @anneheigham and on YouTube.