Are you crazy!! I can hear you saying, but don’t knock it until you have tried it.
I probably came across it first when I was 11 years old when we were visiting distant family in India. They lived in a block of flats where their kitchen was also the shower, Hot water was not accessible so we had to use cold water. I remember locking the door of the kitchen and sitting naked on a little stool. Looking around I could see all the pots and pans and the cooker. It all felt so surreal. I used a big bucket and a cup to bathe with and the water was so cold. The feeling of cold water being poured over my body for the first time made me gasp and I let out a scream. My heart was beating fast and I just wanted to be quick as I could and get out of there.
Lol, what an experience. This was their everyday life. They didn’t have a toilet in the house. They used communal toilets in the block, well actually it was like a hole in the ground, it had no electricity so going to the loo at night time was a nightmare. Squatting down doing your business and balancing a lantern at the same time, you had to be good at multi-tasking.
Times have come along way since then.
The practice of cold showers was re-introduced to western culture through the Kundalini Yoga practices outlined by Yogi Bhajan.
Cold showers came to my attention again on a yoga retreat that I attended many years ago. I remember ladies walking around early morning before our yoga practice with their little bottles of oil. Obviously, I was curious and had to give it a go, I am up for most things. OMG!!! it was crazy, I was freaking out!! I stood there, hopping from one leg to another to keep warm. I could feel the blood rushing around the body and all I wanted to do was get out, but I was only half wet and I had to get the soap off my body. My breath became shallow and I washed my body as fast as I could. I ran out of the shower shivering, quickly drying off my body with my towel. Putting on my clothes as quickly as possible, I was shaking all over. This was a huge shock to the system. Once I was dressed and calmed down, I got over it, yes, I did feel different. I felt a sense of liberation. A feeling that I was in control. My body was really warm and I felt alert and energetic especially as it was 5 in the morning.
I begin by brushing my body with a dry body brush this is not necessary for Ishnaan, however, I love my morning self-care routine and only takes 5 minutes. Body brushing helps to stimulate your circulation and lymphatic drainage, which helps the body eliminate toxins.
I start at my feet working in small swift strokes and work my way up the leg towards the knee and then towards the groin area. I then move to the other leg repeating the same process. Moving over to the stomach in a circular motion and moving onto the breasts, making sure I am not pressing too hard as the skin is delicate in this area. Next, I move to the left hand and arm brushing up towards the armpits then switch to the other arm. Next, I move to the lower back and shoulders and neck all the time brushing towards the main glands in the body. The neck, the armpits or the groin area.
I then rub sweet almond oil over my body, taking my time and massaging it into each and every part of the body. Almond oil acts as a repellent from the cold water and is very moisturizing on the skin. I love how it makes my skin feel!!
I then get in the shower and use the shower hose. Spraying my feet with the coldest water that comes out with the tap, I then use my right leg and massage my left foot and calf, then change sides. Using the hose I get my left arm wet and then massage it with the right hand, then swapping to the other side. I try not to spray the thighs directly with the cold water as this can disturb the calcium- magnesium balance in the body. I spray my chest and stomach and then my back and face, massaging at the same time. Once my whole body is wet I hang up the shower hose and then stand underneath it for 5 minutes. When I finish I rub myself down quite briskly with a towel and get myself into some nice warm clothing. I find that it is best to cold shower first thing in the morning otherwise you can quite easily talk yourself out of it, especially if the weather is not so good outside.
At first I never used to wash my hair in cold shower or shave my armpits or legs, I would use warm water first and then finish off with a cold blast however I have tried the cold shower hair washing and loved how it felt so I will make a conscious effort to also wash my hair in a cold shower in this 10 day challenge.
My 10-day challenge start’s on Monday 20th August please join me on my Facebook group to share our experiences and keep accountable.
It is advised not practice Ishnaan if you are menstruating, pregnant, suffer from high blood pressure or have heart issues, please consult your GP if you are unsure.