It’s Saturday: Oil Me Up.

Via Kate Bartolotta
on Jan 12, 2013
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castor oil
Photo: Pinterest.

FYI: Castor oil is tough to get out of your hair.

So, since I’ve decided to commit to Ashtanga, I thought it would be appropriate to get traditional and do a castor oil bath today. Traditionally, Saturday is taken off of a regular asana practice (moon days and “ladies’ holidays are as well). Instead, we dry brush, which I highly recommend doing daily, and oil up and relax in Savasana for 10 to 15 minutes.

I’ve done this before, as an addition to my practice and just for general health, but I don’t typically stay and relax for the whole time. I usually oil up and then do random busy-work (and sometimes edit…shhh!). It was definitely more enjoyable to lie and soak it in.

Unlike the traditional ritual, however, I did practice beforehand. I had this mental debate of “does the castor oil bath ‘count’ as my practice or not?” and decided that:

1. My shoulders were stiff and I wanted to do at least some sun salutes.

2. The castor oil was going to feel wonderful, but I was agitated and need some sweat to help me clear my head.

3. My practice is my practice—whatever that happens to be on any given day.

4. I should probably not Instagram my castor oil bath!

A few things to know about castor oil if you’ve never used it:

1. It’s incredibly sticky; the texture is closer to honey that what most other oils feel like.

2. It penetrates deeply and can affect your muscles, your GI tract and other organ function. For the most part, this is a good thing. This is one of the reasons to do it. If you are pregnant, it’s not a great idea. Castor oil packs can be used to induce labor, and could cause uterine contractions.

3. Dry brushing beforehand (while good for the lymph tissue in its own right) will help the castor oil sink in and, among other things, leave your skin feeling amazing.

4. It will not come out of your hair easily. If you do rub the castor oil through your hair, which I recommend, leave your shampoo on a little longer than normal. You will probably have to wash twice, but your hair will be super shiny.

I keep castor oil around for lots of things and it’s part of my massage kit in small amounts. One of these days I will write up a post on how to use oil to cleanse your face (I promised Lynn Hasselberger!).

Bonus: Weekend Practice Playlist

What was your practice like today? Are you doing #yogaeverydamnday this month? Check back for my updates and follow along on Twitter @kate_bartolotta and Pinterest.


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About Kate Bartolotta

Kate Bartolotta is a wellness cheerleader, yogini storyteller, and self-care maven. She also writes for Huffington Post, Yoga International, Mantra Yoga+ Health, a beauty full mind, The Good Men Project, The Green Divas, The Body Project, Project Eve, Thought Catalog and Soulseeds. Kate's books are now available on and Barnes & She is passionate about helping people fall in love with their lives. You can connect with Kate on Facebook and Instagram.


7 Responses to “It’s Saturday: Oil Me Up.”

  1. Tara Lemieux says:

    I used this stuff after my last surgery, to help offset the nastiness of general anesthesia. It worked *so* amazingly well… felt better within a few hours (not perfect, but better). Apply the oil over the liver, and cover with a little saran wrap…. and some heat. The saran wrap keeps the oil from getting all over the place, and the heat helps to draw out the toxins from your liver. Amazing stuff… and *cheap*.

  2. Thaddeus1 says:

    True story about castor oil and pregnancy. My wife's mom was set to be induced because she was a couple days late (crazy in and of itself), so she took matters into her own hands and drank, yes drank, a bottle of castor oil. From the story I've heard several times, little Frances slide right on out the next morning.

    The other caution here is that castor oil can be hard on one's plumbing, so if you live in a home where you're responsible for such things, coconut oil is a suggested alternative.

    Posting to Elephant Ashtanga. Be sure to Like Elephant Ashtanga on Facebook.

  3. Many years ago my grandfather encouraged me to do the castor oil/saran wrap thing with a severe ankle sprain. It helped tremendously. I was a ballet dancer back then and my doctor and physical therapist were very impressed with how quickly I recovered.

    Nowadays I usually do abhyanga with sesame oil, which is also incredibly nourishing (and washes out of the hair much better).

  4. Yes! And also great for oil cleansing your face mixed with other oils.

  5. I actually learned about castor oil first from one of my ballet teachers! I may have to try the sesame oil some time too. Thanks!

  6. Aww cute story! I've heard of people taking a tablespoon or two. A bottle is a bold move!

    Good to know about the plumbing. I've never had any issues, but will keep an eye on it.

  7. […] about other parts of the practice. Planning my mornings around my daily practice. Incorporating the weekly castor oil massage and looking up when the moon days fall. Deciding how long of a drive is reasonable to get to a led […]