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Hot/Cold Alternating Showers are Great for Health and Longevity

It’s pretty steamy out here in South China at the moment, and I’ve been experimenting with cold showers. I start off with a warm one then towards the end flick the switch to cold… You don’t have to go super-cold at first, just unpleasantly tepid will do. Anyway, this morning I was feeling chilled but really tired, didn’t want to do anything, just had a hot/cold shower, stayed under the cold water for only 2 minutes but wow! Instant energy, and the feeling hasn’t left. So I googled it and found a lot of links on it, really interesting! It’s actually rated as a really powerful cure in many cultures, recommended by everyone from Yogis to Samurais.

4 Reasons Why You Need To Take Cold Showers!

A friend of mine is 45 years old, has no gray hair, and very good skin for her age. I wanted to find out if there was anything in her routine that could have been a reason for such youthful looks for her age (all without any surgery by the way!). Leaving genetics out of the equation for a moment, the one interesting thing that popped up was the fact that she takes a cold shower every morning. So I did a little research about the subject and found 4 main benefits that you gain by taking cold showers.

Now when I say cold shower, I want to clarify exactly what I mean by that. Taking a full cold shower, meaning no hot or warm or lukewarm water at all, is borderline torture! Especially in the cold winter months (I am from Montreal, and it is VERY cold here!). Besides, there are many benefits to taking a warm shower, the primary one being that it feels really good! But seriously, what I mean in this context, is the practice of starting with a warm shower, and ending the last few minutes with cool to cold water. Here are the benefits that you gain by incorporating a cold shower into your shower routine:

1- Better Circulation
Warm water makes the blood rush to your skin, and cool water makes the blood rush to your organs. This switching between hot and cold triggers better circulation in your blood by forcing the blood to move. The ideal practice would be to switch numerous times between hot and cold water, but merely ending the shower with cold water does help with circulation. Why should you worry about having good circulation? Well, it prevents such problems as hypertension, hardening of the arteries, and the appearance of varicose veins. Good circulation improves the performance of your system and thus help looking and feeling better.

2- Better looking skin
When you shower with warm water, it opens up your pores. Then you wash and this cleans up your pores. That’s all good. When you end, it would be best to close your pores and cold water does just that. It’s good to close your pores after you are all cleaned up because it will prevent the pores from being easily clogged by dirt and oil, which causes skin imperfections such as acne for example. Another benefit is that cold water makes your blood vessels constrict which reduces swelling and the appearance of dark circles under your eyes (where skin is at its thinnest). This provides you with a young, healthy glow.

3- Healthier hair
Cold water makes your hair look healthier and shinier. As a matter of fact, cool air makes your hair shinier too (that’s why there is a cool air button on your hair dryer). What the cold water does is that it closes the cuticle which makes the hair stronger and prevents dirt from easily accumulating within your scalp. Basically, the same principle with how it closes the pores of your skin as mentioned above. Stronger hair, of course, prevents hair from being easily pulled out when you are combing, and it helps in slowing down overall hair loss.

4- Mental benefits
There are plenty of mental benefits to ending your shower with cold water. The ancient samurai warriors used to pour buckets of cold river water on their heads every morning in aShinto practice called Misogi. This was a purification ritual on a spiritual level. They believe that it cleansed their spirit and helped start a new day & new adventure fresh. Cold water obviously helps waking you up, which is what you want in the morning. Also, it energizes you and invigorates your entire being with the essence of life. Give it a try, you will definitely feel more alive! It can also lift you up if you are feeling a little down or unmotivated.

Ending your shower with cold water clearly has its advantages. Many benefits to cold showers, as you can see. I know this is something that can be very difficult for many people to do. The key is to not torture yourself. Go about it gradually. Start with a level of cold you can deal with, and slowly make it colder after each shower. As long as you get your feet wet (no pun intended!), and begin adding this routine at the end of your showers, you will be on your way to making a habit out of it and enjoy the benefits that this practice can bring you. Who knows, maybe you can avoid gray hair altogether like my friend! Maybe the fountain of youth is made up of very cold water?

Cold Shower, Anyone?

In my grandfather’s youth, all food was organic, dairy came straight from the cow, and most days were spent working hard in the fresh air. Even so, my grandfather attributed his health and longevity to a daily cold water rinse.

At the end of each shower, my grandfather would turn the “hot” off and splash cold water all over his body. This lifted all morning grogginess and left him feeling young and invigorated.

While most of us do not have the constitution or the will to withstand a full body cold-water rinse every morning, luckily for us, partial water treatments still work miracles on poor circulation, driving out the cold, strengthening the veins, and beautifying and firming skin. Alternating warm and cold treatments are further reputed to increase longevity and ward off sickness.

Water Stepping

Water stepping is the ultimate treatment for circulatory problems in the legs, including spider veins, varicose veins, and hot, swollen feet. It is therapeutic for mild high blood pressure, calms restless legs, and relaxes the entire nervous system.

Begin by warming the bathroom. Your body will need to be warm for this treatment as well, and you’ll need warm feet. Fill the bathtub with cold water to below the knee. Step into the cold water one leg at a time and then walk in place, lifting each leg high out of the water. Continue for 10 seconds or as long as you feel comfortable. When you are finished, wipe off excess water with your hand and dry only the toes with a towel. Put on warm socks.

You can also perform water stepping in the ocean or in the snow–just be sure to keep warm as you practise. Water stepping regularly not only moves sluggish circulation, but also builds health.

Foot Baths

If you suffer cold feet, alternating hot and cold foot baths will warm them, while gently treating circulatory disturbances. Find two buckets that can be filled ankle deep with water. Fill one with warm water and the other with cold.

Soak both feet in the warm water for five minutes. While exhaling, switch to the cold water, right foot first and then left. Soak in the cold water about 10 seconds. Repeat the warm and cold treatment one more time before drying off the feet.

Now put on warm socks and, either take a brisk walk, or immediately go to bed to achieve full benefit. Foot baths before bed calm restless legs and help you fall asleep.

Cold Water Rinses

As my grandfather knew, the simple practice of rinsing with cold water energizes, improves circulation, and actually toughens the body to cold weather. Cold water rinses are also an excellent treatment for varicose veins. You can gradually immerse your body into a steady shower of water or use a hand-held showerhead to do this exercise more easily.

After a shower or bath, begin by splashing cold water on the toes, moving up the outside of the right leg to the hip, then down the inside of the leg. End by splashing water on the soles of the feet. Repeat on the left side.

Dry Brushing

As a complement to water therapy, dry brushing is excellent for circulation. It will warm you up in less than five minutes and leave you feeling rejuvenated. By removing dead skin and reviving new cells, dry brushing firms and beautifies.

For the full treatment you will need a sisal mitt and back strap. Dry brushing is best performed before your morning shower or bath. To begin, use a rough sisal mitt and brush your right foot with regular upward sweeps up the leg, continuing up toward the heart, working until the skin becomes flushed. After each leg, continue at the right abdomen, circle around the belly button, then up the right arm, left arm, and around the nipples in a figure eight, taking extra care not to brush the nipples. Also avoid brushing the sensitive skin on the neck and face. Finish with the buttocks and the back.

Spend just a few minutes a day incorporating these simple techniques into your schedule. You will feel youthful and have more energy while treating circulatory problems. My grandfather, who loved his cold water rinse, lived well into his eighties.

Spas in Germany specializing in hydrotherapy are very popular. Their reputation and therapeutic value is so well accepted that medical insurance pays for visits.

Yoga Cold Shower therapy

Cold Shower Cures

Unless you live in a hot climate, this is not one of the more pleasant home therapies listed on this website! However, we’ve added it to our Earth Clinic because we find the therapy of immense value. The practice of taking cold showers in the morning is extraordinarily revitalizing and has been used therapeutically all over the world for thousands of years.

Gurudev Khar Khalsa, a Sat Nam Rasayan healer and Kundalini Yoga teacher in Los Angeles sent us this information on the healing power of cold showers.

Cold Water Massage Therapy is the one of the healthiest and inexpensive of therapies. Simply massage the body with almond oil before taking a shower. Shower in cold water until your body temperature rises and no longer feels cold, but toasty and warm. Make sure the bathroom is heated. Never get out of a cold shower into a cold room.

*** Please note: Cold showers should not be taken during a women’s time of menstruation. A woman needs extra rest and gentleness during her menses. Taking a cold shower is too much for the reproductive system during menstruation. A lukewarm shower is recommended. Generally speaking, hot showers are not good as they tend to depress the various physiological systems of the body.

Cold showers have the following positive effects:

* Brings blood to the capillaries, therefore increasing circulation throughout the body.

* Cleans the circulatory system.

* Reduces blood pressure on internal organs.

* Provides flushing for the organs and provides a new supply of blood.

* Strengthens the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems.

* Contracts the muscles to eliminate toxins and poisonous wastes.

* Strengthens the mucous membranes, which help resist hay fever, allergies, colds, coughs.

Many health problems are reduced or even eliminated over time by providing proper circulation of the blood to the affected area using the cold shower massage.

“Ishnan” is the term used in the old days when people in India referred to cold showers (very cold showers). “Ishnan” is the point at which the body, by its own virtue, creates the temperature that it can beat off the coldness of the water. This happens when the capillaries open with the onset of the cold water. They close again during the course of the cold shower and it is at that point that all the blood rushes back to flush the organs and the glands. This process allows the glands to renew their secretions and “youth” (i.e. young glands) again returns to the body.

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