Words by Blanka Priddle
When I was little, I was a total water baby. My poor Mum had to spent hours by the side of the lake or pool, watching me perform aqua gymnastics until my lips turned blue and my teeth were chattering, and still she had trouble getting me out of the water to warm up. Having said that I was never able to understand why my parents started their day with cold showers, huffing and puffing, drawing great breaths of air sharply into their lungs as the punishing stream of coldness hit their sleepy skin.
A few years passed, and with my passion for learning about anything and everything that makes us feel more vital, vibrant and wonderful, the secret of cold water therapy was revealed to me. And so, I, too, started experimenting with cold showers.
Now you might simply want to stop reading this, thinking me crazy. And that’s ok – most of my friends feel the same while enjoying the comfort of hot showers, morning and night. But stay with me, if you have a few moments, and I will show you there is reason behind this madness.
Cold water is one of the most accessible beauty care ‘products’ available to us at very little cost
It comes with some lovely benefits. I cannot claim it’s completely free as – unless you are lucky enough to have a spring fed water supply in your house – you will need to pay for water. However, the cost is low, especially compared to promise-laden products lining department stores shelves, it is quite natural, and the effect is rather miraculous.
Cold water causes the blood supply in our body to rush away from the skin into our inner organs, as the coldness makes our body think that we are in danger, and so it is protecting our vital organs first. After a moment or two our clever body realises what is going on, and as it relaxes, so to speak, it allows the blood circulation to rush back to the surface, bringing fresh blood and fresh nutrients to the skin. This not only benefits the skin, and visibly so, but also all inner organs, which get flushed out by this rush of blood, releasing any stagnant energy and being nourished by fresh supply of oxygen and nutrients. As your circulation picks up, you start feeling warm, and you also start getting a kind of buzzy happy feeling. This is because cold showers make the body release a flood of endorphins, our happy hormones, and once your time under the cold water is over, and you step out and start (vigorously) drying yourself, you will notice a big grin spreading across your face – the feeling of wellbeing, joy and overflowing vitality is incredible.
The journey that brings you to endorphin flooded mornings asks for a little perseverance and, on occasion, a persuasion, as you are getting used to this new ‘ritual’. I promise you though that it is so worth it – did you know that some professional athletes use this type of hydrotherapy for faster recovery?
Did that get your interest at last? If so – here is how you start:
In my last article I was singing praises to dry body brushing, the perfect primer for a cold shower. After your dry body brushing, you can massage your body with a carrier oil (almond, jojoba or any other cold pressed plant oil) and only then hop into the shower – the oil creates a kind of barrier between the water and your skin, so it feels somewhat softer, and as the stream of water hits your skin, and as you massage yourself under this glorious waterfall, you will be helping the oils penetrate deeper into your skin, eliminating the need for a moisturiser afterwards. If you take this option remember to rinse your bath to make sure it is not slippery afterwards.
What you need to realise is that it is good to start training your body (and mind!) gradually, I don’t recommend you jump straight in – you would likely jump straight out, and never read another word I have written ever again.
Remember: slow and steady wins the race. For the first few days introduce colder water to your hands and arms, day by day letting the water slide a little bit higher up the arm, eventually all the way to the shoulder. As you stand there, sticking one arm under the water, use your other hand to massage along the arm, where the water is flowing, to encourage circulation in the area. Once you feel comfortable with your arms getting the cold treatment, after a few days or a couple of weeks, start with your feet, including the soles of the feet, waking up all those nerve endings that are located here. Progress up the shins and calves, avoiding direct shower on your thighs. Progressing to your throat, décolletage (upper chest), belly, then braving to lift your arms and give your armpit a sparkly wake up. Let the water flow around your breasts, encouraging healthy blood and lymph flow (especially important if you wear underwired or tight bra all day long); from here turn around and let the cold water onto your bum, your lower back, rubbing vigorously as you go, and then finally your upper back and shoulders, letting the water cares every inch of your skin, maybe sticking your face up to it as well. When you feel quite comfortable with this, you can gradually make your water colder, too, to step up your vitality and rejuvenation up another level.
For most of us it is important to take our time with cold water therapy; while we need to have a sense of progression, we also need to feel that we are in control. This allows us to stick to not just cold showers but any new habit with more ease, and it is super important when it comes to something challenging – which I think you will agree stepping under a cold shower certainly is. It is also a lot more fun to start training yourself in warm Spring and Summer days, rather than during the cold damp mornings of the darker seasons. What you need to realise is that apart from all those beautifying benefits for our skin, we are bringing more vitality to the whole body, increasing metabolism, building up our immunity, and also strengthening and balancing our nervous system, so if you start in Spring, by the time the colder days of Autumn arrive, you will feel so fantastic that a little bit of cold water will not be anything to worry about for you.
Once you get used to having a cold shower, it is good to stay until you start to feel naturally warm, which may take a few minutes – but I promise they will become enjoyable! Then come out, dry yourself completely, and put on some comfy warm clothes. Your skin is going to feel super soft, silky and smooth, it will feel more toned and vibrant, but also your mind will be clear, and you will be buzzing with energy. You may find you feel super positive and enthusiastic, like anything and everything is possible. What a start to the new day this is!
I am curious to know if you try this, and how you find it, so please comment or get in touch with us to share your experience. We can’t wait to hear your stories!
Blanka has been passionately learning about all things natural and alternative since her teens and has been on this exploring journey for almost three decades now. She discoved essential oils back in the 90s, fell in love with raw living foods in the noughties, and played with many other things in between. She is a Kundalini as well as Hatha yoga teacher, enjoys cooking, makes her own beauty products, and is always on a quest to find the best coffee in town.
Originally from the Czech Republic, she now lives with her Husband and a cat called Chloupek in SE London, where she teaches from her cosy yoga studio.
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