It’s scientifically proven that being close to nature positively affects our well-being, reducing anxiety, lowering stress levels, and improving our mood. So, it’s understandable that health-minded individuals turn to the great outdoors for rejuvenation. From forest immersions and sunset meditations to mountain hikes and community gardening, ecotherapy—the idea of therapeutic activities that reconnect us to nature—takes many forms and one of the newest trends isn’t actually new at all.
Outdoor bathing is becoming increasingly popular as it combines two common forms of relaxation: a soothing soak and time in nature. “The experience of bathing outside is a very special and unique experience,” says Karen Larson, co-founder of Soake Pools, a purveyor of luxury outdoor bathtubs and plunge pools. “Think of that outdoor shower you took while on vacation, and how it changed the whole showering experience.”
The practice of bathing outdoors dates back thousands of years. From ancient civilizations to modern times, outdoor bathing has served as a necessity, a wellness ritual, and a social gathering. The Great Bath in Mohenjo-Daro, Pakistan, believed to be used for ritual bathing in the third millennium B.C., is the earliest known example. The Romans also built public baths in parks and gardens, where people from all walks of life would gather to cleanse their bodies and socialize.
In Japanese and Scandinavian cultures, outdoor bathing had a wellness and spiritual element, as the act of immersing oneself in natural hot springs was believed to have healing properties and promote relaxation.
To create its latest offering, the Garden Tub, Soake Pools looked to this storied history for inspiration. Cast in architectural concrete with an ornate floral motif, the elegant new outdoor bathtub looks like it was plucked straight from an ancient Greek bathhouse. The idea, according to Larson, is for this tub to be the centerpiece of your own wellness oasis at home, a secret garden where you can commune with nature while enjoying a bath.
Measuring 5 feet by 7 feet, the footed tub can accommodate two and comes in two configurations. The “spa” version has heated water, circulation and an interior light while the “purist” version is meant to emulate the ancient experience of outdoor bathing, with unheated water and the ability to fill and drain it with each use, similar to a typical bathtub. The interior can be finished in a high-gloss mosaic glass tile or polished concrete.
“Bathing in an ornate beautiful bathtub will transport the bather to ancient times, or anywhere they want to be transported to,” she says. She suggests placing it under a pergola with abundant blooms or an archway of lush climbing plants, using the greenery to create a private nook. Or, if the landscape allows, position the tub to take full advantage of expansive views by placing in a private backyard that overlooks mountains, valleys or meadows. Consider planting around the tub with flora that you can utilize in the bath—think fragrant lavender, roses, or colorful daisies.
To create a holistic spa-like experience, Larson suggests adding Soake Pool’s Italian bolster pillow for the head and deck and keeping a crystal jar of natural bath salts at the ready. Hang a silk bathrobe on a nearby branch or hook, and prepare to let your worries wash away. Ah, bliss.