A few years back I did my first cleanse program and it included a whole lifestyle component as an additional support structure for our detoxing bodies. One of the daily routines, taken straight from the Ayurveda books, was taking a cold shower every morning. In Ayurveda, this practice is referred to as Ishnaan, which loosely translates to what we in the West call hydrotherapy.
The hardest part about taking a cold shower, is getting the courage to do it. I happened to take the cleanse program in March when I was living in Colorado, so needless to say, the last thing I wanted to do when waking up at 6am was take a cold shower.
HOWEVER, it works.
Why Taking A Cold Shower Is Good For You
It works because the cold water is a jolt to your system and a perfect natural way to wake you up. But it also works because when you’re in the shower, you are furiously massaging your skin to stay warm and this stimulates your blood flow and the circulatory system. After about three minutes – that’s all, just 3 minutes! – you get out and dry yourself off and the feeling of vitality can’t be beat.
Physiologically, you’re moving around and waking up the lymph system, which I’ve talked about a fair amount before. Our lymph system doesn’t have a pump to move it around the body like the heart moves around the blood; therefore, we must move our body to keep our lymph healthy and to keep our immune system strong. No better way to force movement than to find yourself in a cold shower! According to my CorePower Yoga Spring Wellness Cleanse detox manual, here is a slightly more scientific explanation of what’s happening to our bodies when we step underneath a stream of freezing cold water:
“The cold water stimulates your circulatory system. Blood rushes outward, opening up capillaries and pushing out toxins. Organs are flushed when the capillaries go back to normal and when the organs are flushed the glands immediately have to change their secretions. The glands are the guardians of health, and when they change, health is revitalized.”
How To Take A Cold Shower Without Freaking Out About It
To ease your way into a daily practice like this, start by jumping in the shower for a few seconds at a time until you can’t stand it anymore. Over time, you can work your way up to a full 3 minutes, which is the optimal time.
It may be easier to do this practice in the summer when it’s warm out, but the practice is beneficial to the body all year long and can surprisingly keep you warm throughout the cooler months because you’ve activated your body’s internal systems first thing in the morning.
When To Avoid Cold Showers (Because Not Everything Is For Everyone All The Time)
Avoid Ishnaan on the first 3 days of your menstrual cycle and during pregnancy. Also, stay away if you’re feeling weak or ill. Take care not to let cold water spray directly on your thighs, as this is the area of the body that balances magnesium and calcium. If you’re worried about this, wear a light pair of cotton shorts to protect the thighs, or just avoid rubbing over them as you’re furiously (but gently) massaging away.
Follow Ishnaan with a short meditation to clear the mind and you’ll feel intense clarity and be ready for your day! This is the best and cheapest way I know to get a potent shot of energy into your system first thing in the morning without having to worry about associated crashes and bad chemical reactions happening in your blood stream. Plus, it’s great for your skin.
Image credit: Aadiflick