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 a Shinto 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?!
This article was featured in The Fourth Edition of the Carnival of Improving Life
To add to the above is another article on this subject
What to say about cold water ishnaan in the morning. In Toronto the cold water is freezing, even in summer months but the joy and alertness that one gets from doing cold water ishnaan, is beyond words. When one gets up early morning, many times, one feels sleepy but as soon as the body comes under ice cold water, one is forced to utter "Vaaaahe Gurrrrrrrrrrrrooo!!"
It is easier to put cold water in the head and do kesh ishnaan but when the turn is to do the body shower (after keshi ishnaan), then real mazaa comes. One Singh who had started doing cold water ishnaan jokingly said that he remembers Bhai Mati Daas, Bhai Sati Daas and Bhai Dyaala Ji before jumping under the cold water shower. He thinks that if they could endure so much on their body, he can surely endure cold water. It was quite funny the way he narrated it.
Here are some more uses and benefits of doing cold water ishnaan:
1) You help the environment? How? You don't use hot water and this saves hydro costs and consumption.
2) You help the environment? How? You use less water and this way contribute to saving fresh natural water. I know people who use hot water waste too much water. In case of ice cold water shower, the issue is of life and death. :) So one does not bathe leisurely and stand under water for like half an hour. One is out in no time.
3) You save time. How? As explained in point 2 above, you can't just stand under water for more than half a minute. You don't want to freeze. You want to live. So you are out in no time, thereby saving precious amritvela time for Naam Abhyaas.
4) You earn Good Karma. How? If you live in a dwelling where you have to share washroom with other people, you save other peoples' time because you don't leave them waiting for too long. You are out in like 5 minutes. Since you save time for other people, at the precious amritvela time, it means good Karma for you. Good Karma because they can now spend more time in paath and simran. You get dividends of that. :)
5) You save money? How? By using less water, less hydro and less soap, you save money. Why less soap? Because if you use too much soap, it would take longer to remove it and this would mean you will have to be under water for longer period of time. To avoid this, I use just as much soap as required. I don't play bubble game in washroom like many brothers and sisters are known to be playing. :)
6) You become healthier. How? When the cold water is poured on the body, the blood rushes in veins so fast that any blockages in the arteries or veins are carried away and cleared. This translates into a healthy body.
7) Your heart becomes strong. How? The heart becomes stronger by enduring ice cold water therapy every morning. It gets this shock everyday. This way it gets stronger. It's a shock it has to endure everyday. So this means that it is better shaped in enduring shocks of life.
Hopefully the above writeup will inspire more Gursikhs to adopt cold water Ishnaan in the morning.
Gurmat Gyan (Knowledge)
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