Showers of Health and Happiness for You !!

Dr. Danesh D. Chinoy is a leading Health and Wellness Coach, Sports Physiotherapist and Psychologist. He is also a prominent Facilitator, Educator and Administrator, Physiotherapist (Sports & Manual Therapy), Corporate Trainer and Psychologist. He is dedicated to guiding clients to succeed while inspiring an insatiable passion for learning and helping all to heal holistically and remain fighting fit for life. With a Doctorate in Sports Physiotherapy and a Masters in Psychology, Dr. Chinoy’s two-decades’ rich expertise has won him innumerable awards, nationally and globally. He is on a mission to serve society by empowering all to reach their peak performance.

A freezing cold shower with your ‘bun maska and choi’ may not sound like an attractive prospect first thing in the morning. After all, most of us relish a toasty warm shower to ease us out of our ‘aalas’ and get us ready for the day. That said, the school of thought for showering is changing – looks like Cold Showers may be the key to health and a caffeine-free jolt of alertness and energy! Let me share this simple and effective secret to health and vitality.

The science behind cold exposure is not new. Cold water bath therapy is an ancient Ayurvedic remedy that has numerous health benefits including treating anxiety and depression, improving circulation and toning skin. The use of cold as a ‘good stressor’ on the body can help trigger several helpful responses within the body. It allows the controlled elicitation of the body’s natural cell repair, metabolic and physiological processes.

A study by the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine found that cold showers can alleviate, and even prevent depression and anxiety. The study claims that short, cold showers may stimulate the locus coeruleus, or the ‘blue spot’, which is the brain’s primary source of nor-adrenaline – a biochemical that could help mediate depression and anxiety. The body is stressed by a hostile factor – in this case, icy water – that stimulates a healing response in the body and can lead to lower levels of anxiety and depression, as well as a plethora of other physiological benefits!  The mild electro-shock delivered to the brain by the cold shower sends an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain, which results in an anti-depressive effect.  

The easiest recipe to get the psychological lift is by taking a cold shower for 2 to 3 minutes once or twice daily, preceded by a five-minute gradual adaptation to the temperature (i.e. start your shower hot and then finish it with 2 – 3 minutes of pure icy goodness)! Only a cold shower can strengthen your body’s parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, increase proper circulation of blood through your body, and contract your muscles to eliminate toxins and poisonous wastes. 

In ancient times, hot water was a luxury. Even when the ancient Greeks developed heating systems for their public baths, they continued bathing in cold water for health benefits. The Persians felt hot water was for the weak and unmanly; Persian warriors used only cold water as they thought it tempered and made the body battle ready. During the first century, Finnish people would sweat it out in saunas and then jump into an ice cold lake or stream, a pastime which is referred to as ‘Avantouinti’ or ice-hole-swimming. It’s still enjoyed by modern Finns and other Scandinavians! Ancient Russians also took frequent plunges into ice cold rivers for health and spiritual cleansing. Japanese practitioners of Shinto, both in ancient and modern times, would stand under an icy waterfall as part of a ritual known as ‘Misogi’, which was believed to cleanse the spirit. In the 1820s, Vincenz Priessnitz, a German farmer, started touting a new medical treatment – ‘Hydrotherapy’, using cold water to cure the sick. He turned his family’s home into a sanatorium, drawing in as patients including dukes, duchesses, princesses, counts, etc. Hydrotherapy soon spread to the rest of Europe and eventually, the modern world.

When asked just one hack to build a massive will power, my answer most often is ‘ice cold’ – an ice-cold shower. To the uninitiated, the amount of will power it takes to take cold showers may seem like that of a Shaolin Monk, because it is a pretty big jump doing something you are so resistant to, every single day, right when you wake up! It takes a lot of mental strength, which over time, with discipline, becomes an automated habit that echoes into every area of your life! There is a high density of cold receptors in the skin, much more than there are for registering warmth.

Cold showers improve Emotional Resilience. If you get flustered, anxious or angry easily, like our bawa group whatsapp warriors, then Cold-showers can help as they imbibe greater resilience to stress in your nervous system. Cold showers act as a small form of oxidative stress on the nervous system. Over time, as the body adapts to it, you will be calmer and cooler. The first time you step in that cold shower, you won’t be able to breathe, let alone think straight! But a month later, it empowers you to think of your day with Zen-like focus, helping you brush off stress with ease. This adaption to repeated oxidative stress is postulated as a mechanism for ‘Body Hardening’ or exposure to a natural stimuli, like the thermal stimulus, resulting in an increased tolerance to stress and diseases.

Cold water also lowers levels of uric acid and boost levels of Glutathione in your blood – making you less stressed in general. In the books, James Bond always takes what is known as a ‘Scottish Shower’, where he starts off hot and finishes with ice cold water. And he’s the calmest, coolest agent there is! So now you know the secret of Mr. Bond!

If you’re one of the brave souls that have taken a cold shower already, then you know that at first it is hard to breathe. Step into a cold shower and the first thing you are going to do is take a deep breath. After that you could start panting and moving, your breathing will become deep and erratic. But don’t be scared. You get a massive boost of energy from that increased breathing that the cold shower forces upon you. This extreme deep breathing, early morning and every morning, is going to dramatically increase your oxygen intake and heart rate, resulting in a natural dose of energy through the day. The boost of energy and accompanied alertness can be a good alternative for a morning coffee that will kick your physiology into another gear.

Girls! If you are not motivated by feeling better, then be motivated by looking better! One of the best ways to improve your skin and hair is by taking cold showers. Plus, it’s free! Dermatologists say ice-cold water can help our skin by preventing it from losing too many natural oils. Your hair benefits similarly, appearing shiny, strong and healthy by keeping the follicles flat and increasing their grip with the scalp. This is great news for guys too, who are scared of losing hair. 

Most people would know this, there are two types of fat in your body. Brown fat and white fat. White fat is bad. It’s the body fat we all hate. Brown fat is good – it generates heat and keeps your body warm. When you take a cold shower, brown fat is activated, resulting in an increase in energy and calories burned to keep your body warm. In fact, according to a study, cold temperatures can increase brown fat 15 times the normal amount, which can result in shredding off the excess love handles! 

One of the great benefits of cold showers is that they cause a rise in testosterone levels in men. Russian weightlifters would sit in the cold before competitions – now you know why!

If you’re yet not motivated by feeling better, or looking better, then be motivated by being healthier! Cold showers improve circulation by means of sending blood to your vital organs to keep them warm. This stimulation of the circulatory system is great for your overall cardiovascular health.

One of the most important benefits of cold showers is that they increase your immunity. An English study showed that taking regular cold showers increases the amount of disease-fighting white blood cells. An additional, yet crucial, part of the body that is affected by cold showers is the lymphatic system, which helps carry waste from your cells – key in defending your body from unwanted infections. When the lymphatic system is blocked, it results in symptoms like frequent colds, infections and joint pain. Cold showers, when alternated between hot and cold water will help your lymphatic system, pumping the fluid that may have stagnated in your lymph vessels out – resulting in a stronger immune system and healthier you!

If you’re an athlete, you know that taking an ice bath after intense training is one of the best things you can do to recover faster (A 2009 study confirms this). Cold Showers speed up muscle recovery. You don’t need a high-tech training facility with cold water submersibles to be able to achieve these benefits – just take a cold shower! Although it won’t be as effective as a fully submersed ice bath, it will improve circulation, and help remove some lactic acid. Try alternating between very hot and very cold to let the blood come and go to the surface. Your muscles will thank you!

Obviously, an ice-cold shower is going to get you up and moving in the morning. We already talked about how it will scientifically increase your alertness, but science aside, if you have trouble getting up and pumped for the day, cold showers will change this. Did you know that while cold showers wake you up in the day-time, cold therapy is one of the best ways to get an incredible nights’ sleep too! It’s like getting hit with an elephant tranquilizer, even if the melatonin is missing from the equation!  

Hydrotherapy has been prescribed as part of Addiction-treatment since 1930s and there are several reasons for that. Cold water increases the levels of beta-endorphin, the hormone that binds to the opioid receptors of the brain, the same receptors that are affected by opioid drugs. Thus, even the heroin addiction symptoms and the withdrawals can be eased by cold showers.

IMPORTANT: Please note that some people with certain conditions should avoid cold showers because of the shock to the body’s system. If you have the following conditions please avoid this practice, without prior consultation with your health care provider:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure: The contraction in your blood vessels caused by cold water could cause a cardio vascular accident like a paralytic stroke).
  • Overheated or feverish: Your blood vessels need to dilate in order to release heat. Cold water causes them to constrict. This could prove counter-productive.
  • Those who have taken hot showers all their lives can endure a big shock to the system by suddenly turning the tap counter clockwise! You don’t want to do too much, too soon, or you won’t stick with it. My suggestion is to gradually decrease the temperature of the water so your body can adjust. You don’t have to start off Cold! This is a relief for many. You can start your shower hot, and enjoy it. But for the last 3 minutes it must be cold! As cold as it goes!

Okay, so you that you know how awesome cold showers are, here’s your experiment:

All you have to do, is take a cold shower tomorrow morning, and see how you feel. You can start hot, but end cold, for at least 1 minute. Then see how you feel. If you liked it, then do it again the next day and see how two days in a row made you feel. It’s just an experiment, not a permanent life change. Whatever you do, make sure you have fun and you enjoy it. If it’s going to stress you out, then you still need some time. This is supposed to improve your life, not scare you to death!

Are you a Bawa enough to take a cold shower? Now good luck waking up tomorrow morning and taking the plunge! Let me know how it went!!

(Remember to keep writing in with your comments, suggestions and questions as always to me at: / 8454800869.)


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