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Hydrotherapy

"It's better than a morning cup of coffee." ~ Upma Kaur, Española, New Mexico, USA

"I feel revitalized in my whole body and my chakras are more in balance. I can't imagine not starting my day with it." ~ Shiv Anter Kaur, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA 

One of the most essential steps in the preparation for morning sadhana and good health is a cold shower. Yes, cold. (1) The process is called hydrotherapy or ishnaan. There’s a lot more to it than just getting outwardly clean. 

Why

In just a few minutes you can open your capillaries, increase your circulation, wake up and strengthen your entire nervous system.

When the cold water hits your body, all the blood rushes to the organs. The blood moves in order to protect the organs and keep them warm. This is an automatic self-defense mechanism.

As the blood moves inward, it flushes the capillary system. In this way, the capillary system of the body gets a powerful work-out. According to Yogi Bhajan, cold showers open the capillaries and clear toxins at the deepest level of the body.

Cold showers stimulate the body in a way that can vastly improve circulation and flush the organs clean. This, in turn, keeps your skin radiant and the blood chemistry young and healthy. It also stimulates healthy secretions from the glandular system and strengthens the nervous system.

How*

Follow these steps for the first victory of each day:

Massage your body with a small amount of oil. Almond oil is highly recommended. It contains lots of minerals. You won’t be greasy after the shower. When wet, the oil gets absorbed by the skin.

Wear cotton shorts or boxers that cover your thighs. Make sure they are loose, in order to create an air pocket around the thighs. Avoid skin tight, polyester athletic shorts. The shorts protect the femur bone which controls the calcium-magnesium balance in the body.

Get the cold water flowing. Move in and out of the water several times, constantly massaging your body until the water no longer feels cold (really!).

Feel free to do a victory shout (Wahe Guru!) or use another mantra like Ang Sang Wahe Guru (God is in every part of me).

Start with the extremities – feet and hands, arms and legs.

Go slowly if you have high blood pressure or problems with the sciatic nerve.

Women should note the following:

• Make sure to massage the breasts to increase circulation to that area and clean out toxins.

• Don’t take cold showers while menstruating.

• While pregnant, give the baby a cold shower for no longer than three minutes and stop altogether after the seventh month.

• Dry off briskly with a rough towel to make the body shine.

Don’t you already feel invigorated, just by reading this description? A cold shower can also be a little intimidating. It can help to make sure the bathroom is warm (use a space heater or run hot water to get it steamy). If you really can’t take a full cold shower, at least wash your hands, elbows, face, ears, and feet with cold water. Above all, be kind to yourself.

Someone asked Yogi Bhajan about taking a hot shower first, then ending with cold water. He replied, “That is like eating a lot of junk food and then having a healthy meal.” If you really love hot showers, wonderful. Take them at night or another time for bathing your skin and hair. The morning shower is for your circulation and stimulation of your nervous and glandular system.

Do not take a cold shower if you have a fever, rheumatism, or heart disease.

* Summarized from Kundalini Yoga: The Flow of Eternal Power by Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa. New York: Berkeley Publishing Group, 1996.

[Note: Kundalini Yoga and lifestyle tips have benefited millions of people, but they are not intended as medical advice. This is ancient yogic wisdom and the intent is solely for information and education. Please consult a health care professional should the need for one be indicated.]