Sure, cold showers are a wonderful relief for the summer heat. But, the use of cold water as both a healing agent and method of rejuvenation is an ancient art used by many different cultures. With the many benefits of cold showers, this practice can be extended all year — and the impending spring weather offers us a good opportunity to jump into the practice.
With the increase of circulation to the brain (think about how much more alert a cold shower makes you), cold showers are a great way to improve the mind and help maintain emotional balance. The art of using cold water on various parts of the body is a healing therapy that has been passed down through the generations of yogis. Similar to acupressure and acupuncture, the stimulation of certain areas on the body with water can have major healing effects for the mind and body.
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Mind Over Shower
One of the most important steps with taking a cold shower is the preparation. Make the room comfortably warm first. During the winter months you can steam up the room first by putting on the hot water. This allows your mind to relax into the idea of taking a serene shower in steamy paradise instead of seeing it as a battle. While preparing for your cold plunge, use a dry brush in light strokes going from the periphery of the hands and feet towards the trunk of the body, avoiding any sensitive areas. This works to stimulate the circulation and also move unwanted debris from the skin. After brushing apply high-quality oil, like almond oil, to all the areas of the body. Besides leading to healthier looking skin, this acts as a sort of armor against the shock of taking the cold dive. This ritual also provides you with a free morning massage that makes a cold shower something to look forward to each day.
Taking The Plunge
For the purposes of a daily cold shower, the only areas to avoid direct exposure of the cold water are the thighs, private areas, and the top of the head. Once in the shower first start with the cold water directly applied to the feet and calves. While the water falls alternate using opposite feet to massage everything below the knee that’s exposed to water. Next, apply the water to the hands and start massaging the water up the arms with the idea of moving up towards the heart. From there, massage the trunk vigorously with your hands under the cold water, followed lastly by a nice blast to the eyes, which benefits vision and is a great coffee substitute. Throughout all these steps, take your time.
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A cold shower should ideally be done to the point that you start to feel your body warming up. The yogis called this practice “Ishnaan” where you stimulate the body’s natural “fire.” In order to reach that hot zone during your cold shower, break the shower into four parts. Do not fight the good fight by just bracing yourself under the cold water for the full duration. Allow yourself to take three small breaks from the cold water while you continue massaging yourself vigorously with your hands. This allows your body to adjust and by the fourth time the water will start to feel warmer. After the cold shower, vigorously dry yourself off and dress warmly to face your day with a smile knowing that the victory of the cold shower is behind you.
This post was authored by Joseph Amanbir Young.
In the age of constant communication, 24/7 jobs, and mandatory multitasking, finding a moment for reflection is almost impossible — almost. Courtney Somer made mental wellness her mission, creating Eyla, an online resource packed with inspiration and real-life tools to maintain your personal peace. We'll be sharing some of this goodness every week on R29 Guest Stars, so whether you're looking to get spiritual, clear your mind, or just read some motivating interviews, Eyla is here to help you shine brighter.