How cold showers keep you young – the power of Ishnaan

Ishnaan Dasam Dwar Ashram
My favourite Ishnaan spot at Dasam Dwar Ashram in France – more fun than cold showers, and glacial!

It took me years to even consider exploring the yogic science of hydrotherapy, aka ishnaan, aka cold showers. Standing under a freezing cold shower? First thing in the morning? In the middle of winter? SCREAM. But then a few friends started telling me how amazing they felt after a cold shower. And then even more people sang its praises. And so I finally got the hint and decided to give it a try.

Prepare for your cold shower

It was a few summers ago, it was getting light in the morning, it was warm outside. I woke up, did a full body brushing routine, massaged my skin with almond oil, and jumped into a FREEZING COLD SHOWER! Sharp intake of breath. And that, right there, is where the magic starts to happen. That huge gulp of air resonates with our first ever breath, our first taste of prana – and with it, we suck in all the juice that life has to offer. A pretty good start to the day, right?

Massage routine

Under the freezing cold shower, I followed the recommended routine. Start with the extremities – massage your hands, arms, feet and legs under the stream of water. Rub your right foot and calf with your left foot and vice versa while you use your hands to first rub each other under the cold shower, then massage your arms. Your upper arms relate to your stomach, your forearms to your intestines, the upper inside of your wrists to your heart and your wrists to your liver. Rub it all vigorously.

Then massage your whole body under the water. Massage your breasts to get the lymph moving and prevent tumours. Your thighs should go in the cold shower last, or only once you’ve adapted a little more to the temperature. In fact, it’s recommended that women wear cotton shorts as a buffer for the thighs and genitals. This protects the calcium/magnesium balance in the body.

Once you’ve massaged your whole body, moving vigorously the entire time, jump out of the water and massage your body again until it gets hot. And then jump in again for more massage. Keep jumping in and out for as long as you can – 12-15 minutes is optimal, but if three minutes is all you can do, it’s better than nothing!

The effects

When we massage ourself in a cold shower, we open up our capillaries and get the circulation – rich with the prana generated by our deep breaths – moving around the body. It flushes out toxic and fatty deposits. And once we step out of the shower, that revitalised flush of blood heads straight towards our internal organs, energising them, flushing them with prana, like crops getting a delicious downpour of fresh rain. The glands respond by resetting their hormonal secretions, balancing the blood. And what do we have? The best anti-ageing formula this side of a shoulder stand!

Once you get out of the cold shower, pat yourself dry (I like to keep whatever’s left of the almond oil on my skin) and get dressed for your yoga practice. Your body will heat up quickly, and you’ll have the best day EVER!


Protect your thighs – don’t expose them too much to the cold shower. Avoid cold showers when you’re on your moon cycle or pregnant, or if you have a fever or heart problems. Take it slowly and carefully if you have problems with your life/sciatic nerve or if you have blood pressure issues. Keep your breath deep, avoid hyperventilating through the mouth! Screaming and whooping get an almighty YES from me 🙂


I am a total convert, an unabashed wholehearted fan of cold showers and I can’t recommend them enough. They make me feel energised, they make my body and skin feel more toned and alive, and I definitely notice the youth-giving effects of a daily cold shower. It’s said that ishnaan energises your cells and system in a way that no amount of physical exercise can. It’s a kundalini yoga morning routine winner. So there we have it, get yourself some almond oil and set the temperature to zero!

Good luck, and sat nam x

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8 years ago

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