Ishnaan. Cold water. Cold showers.
The ancient science and practice of hydrotherapy was developed by fearless ones who dared to achieve internal heat in order to sustain their intense practice.
I found that it builds on momentum, this decision to take a cold shower. First, I was told tales of Tibetan monks, swamis, and yogis who would meditate in the winter high in the Himalayas melting the snow around them while wearing nothing but a robe. Then it became a challenge, and now it is apart of my daily routine. I can’t seem to start my day right when I don’t do it. Yogi Bhajan said, “If I with my body can conquer the chilliness of the water, I can take away the chilliness of my life.” Taking cold showers is the ultimate Kundalini Yoga way to start the day- with strength and resolve.
Cold water acts on so many levels to build the strength in the body and mind.
It is quite simple and with modern day showers, it is very easy to turn on the faucet and apply the water directly where needed. I use it on my shoulders after tough yoga classes with lots of arm movements.
When cold water is applied to the facial area below the lip for 10-15 minutes it will make you become bright and clear minded. When applied between the facial area between the eyebrows and the upper lip, it will make you energetic. When you want to become sleepy, apply it on the forehead. To self-cure stomach issues, apply cold water to the upper arm and for digestive tract issues, apply cold water from 2 inches above the wrist to the elbow. Directed to the wrists, it will directly aid the liver.
If all of this seems overwhelming, just place your fingertips under cold water, at least that will have positive effects on the brain. When you want to renew your cells, apply cold water to the front of your neck and let it run to the rest of your body. When applied to the chest and the front of the body, your blood chemistry changes for the better. And let’s not forget the feet (while massaging foot with the other foot) as you are massaging your whole body. Use both hands and massage the body outside of the water and feel the warmth come on. This cold shower process is recommended for 12-15 minutes.
Cold water is instrumental for the capillaries inside the body to open up in order for new blood to enter deep into the organs. Essentially, you are flushing your system with new blood and encouraging circulation. When capillaries open, the blood that was once in your system will have no choice but to leave and new blood enters carrying with them more oxygen to nourish your body. Then what was once unbearable cold will become less and less and at some point no longer feel cold. I like to think it is a tolerance level that with practice the mind is trained and a new sense of mental strength emerges.
There are a few things to note if you plan to practice this ancient technology.
1) Use almond oil and massage it all over your body to increase circulation and to help take the edge off of the water as it hits the skin.
2) Wear shorts or kachera (traditional Sikh underwear that look like long shorts) to avoid disrupting the calcium and magnesium balance in the inner thighs.
3) Wrap yourself in a blanket to warm up until your body restores temperature and heats up.
4) Wear white cotton and do your sadhana.
5) Wake up and repeat daily. You are victorious!