Cold Water Therapy; Cold Water Technology
Before anyone knew about Wim Hof, yogis were activating cold water technology for centuries. Dipping, pre-dawn, into the waters at the base of the Himalayas before meditation. Learning and embodying the stark lessons of contrast and the shock of full-body healing through the technology of cold water.
I learned about this technology early in my kundalini yoga journey. It was something all my teachers did, rain or shine, without fail, in the early AMs before their own meditation practice. Despite the fact that all my teachers have unbelievably luminous skin (no matter their age) it was also something I completely scoffed at. These people must be nuts! They want me to do what? When?! But, why?
And then I learned more about that very why, and it motivated me to try this crazy thing out.
WHY would anyone do this?
There are a myriad of reasons why this technology is deeply rejuvenating and healing to the body. On a physiological level, the cold water meeting the skin forces blood out of the capillaries, causing a much-needed (daily) flush of the body and clearing toxins at a very deep level. This process also rejuvenates the organs, lymph, and circulatory system.
Here is a list of just some of the benefits shared on the website 3HO:
1. Brings blood to the capillaries.
2. Cleans the circulatory system.
3. Reduces blood pressure on internal organs, flushing internal organs and giving them a new supply of blood.
4. Strengthens the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems.
5. Contracts the muscles and causes them to eliminate toxins and poisons more quickly.
6. Brings the power of resistance and resilience to the body.
7. Strengthens the mucous membranes.
8. Keeps the skin young and shining.
9. Prevents the body from developing an extra layer of fat, which affects the liver.
10. Balances all the glands.
11. Prevents circulation and nerve problems.
My initial intrigue? The circulatory and youth-promoting benefits. In the past I’ve struggled with some vein and circulation issues as well as an annoyance of daily puffiness of the face. While I can’t say the cold showers I’ve taken have been a complete silver bullet, my goodness have they helped. And my gosh, do you feel amazingly ALIVE afterwards. It’s a wake up like you’ve never had.
Please note** before you stop reading and run off to your icy shower, women who are menstruating and post 7 months pregnant, are not advised to take cold showers. So do stick with your normal routine. As I still have a bit of time before 7 months hit, I’m remembering and re-igniting the healing powers of this (crazy) empowering practice.
HOW does one actually do this?
Ok, so the how is important here - as you could just jump in, but the yogis recommend a more nuanced approach that I personally enjoy:
First - using a dry brush (or even a good washcloth) give the body a nice brushing, warming up the skin ‘till it’s a bit pink. Then give your whole body a quick massage with some type of oil. Almond, sesame or even a good quality olive will do. This creates a barrier between the water and your skin and I think makes a HUGE difference in actually being able to pull this off.
Then, turn the water on, but just get your feet wet initially. Rub each foot, warming it as you go. From there you can turn around and get your calves wet - again taking each foot against the opposite calf to warm. From there you can do a bit of a hokey pokey shower (careful to avoid the thighs and genitals as best you can) - rubbing one leg and then one arm at a time, followed by splashing the face.
From there (after a few prayers, pep-talks, and counting to “3”s) walk in. Let the cold water hit your face, your chest, massage your breasts, definitely massage your belly if you’re pregnant (you want to get that belly nice and warm!). Wherever the water hits, I like to use my hands to again really get a good warming massage going. Also - if you feel any sort of common cold coming on it’s great to really let the water hit your throat and thymus gland (essentially the sternum area).
Once your front is warmed up and you’ve done a bit of yelling (or if you want to be more refined chanting…or both), turn your back to the shower. Let the water hit the top of the spine as you rub each upper arm - again this helps to warm the body. It’s also recommended to make fists with the hands and gently hit up and down the thighbone to help balance the minerals of the body. I also like to use fists to give my kidney’s a bit of a drumming.
After that, it’s a party. Enjoy. Splash around. Invite your friends. Eventually stepping out and yelling “I’m ALIVE” because it’s definitely what you’re gonna want to exclaim.
So - tomorrow I’m beginning a personal 40 day challenge to stick with this. Given my history of fits and starts here, I’m ready to create some consistency. Should you like to join me, feel free to tag your 40 day journey on instagram at #40daysofcoldshowers. I look forward to hearing how it goes!
Also, please read on for additional resources and motivational reading materials:
One of my teachers speaking about this therapy.