Why is Cold Water Training part of the LYM
Cold Water Training is one of the five components of the Living Yoga Method. Why? Because whatever you want to do with your life, doing cold water training will optimise it - you name it: physical health, mental clarity, energy levels, emotional mood, and even a decent night’s sleep, a cold shower a day will enhance your experience.
None of us are entitled to vigorous health and vitality, we each have to do our bit to earn it, (cue The Living Yoga Method). The cold shower you take each day is a massive investment in this direction and here we set out a few of the incredible and proven benefits:
When you turn the shower to cold, your body will go to work to keep you warm by raising your metabolic rate. The result of this has been scientifically proven to massively increase the production of white blood cells, responsible for giving you a robust immune system and muscling up your capacity to fight off viruses. And remember if it’s happening in your body, it’s happening in your mind too. Cold showers will help you develop a powerful psychological immunity, an immunity to criticism, others' negativity, your own news feed, and excessive worry & concerns we all fall prey to.
2. Mental focus
Whatever state you enter a cold shower will not be the state you leave. That cold hit is going to blow away your mental fog and clear your mind leaving you alert, focussed, super productive and ready to smash your day, every time.
This is due to a huge increase in norepinephrine and dopamine released into your bloodstream (as much as 530% and 230% respectively according to recent studies) whenever you turn the shower cold. We all have this internal chemistry, and in each and every one of us these hormones and neurotransmitters are behind the scenes running our show, determining our mood, drive and clarity of thought. The real deal is how to turn this chemical into a happy, positive and life-enriching one. You’re just one cold shower away.
3. Complete vascular workout
Roll them all out and you have enough arteries to wrap around the world 2.5 times. When the muscles of these arteries get lazy, you get sick. 31% of all deaths worldwide are down to cardiovascular disease. So you may think getting in a cold shower is a killer but actually, it could just be your saviour!
When you turn the shower cold, you are giving yourself a powerful cardiovascular workout by causing your arteries to constrict and dilate, building greater vascular strength and efficiency and taking the pressure off of your heart. What’s the outcome? A lowering of blood pressure and heart rate, an increased capacity to flush out toxins and a greater power to assimilate nutrients and oxygen into your cells.
4. Your lymphatic system
- Movement (nothing better than Yoga, especially Inversions)
- Diaphragmatic Breathing
- You got it - Hot shower turned to cold will contract your lymph vessels and pump lymph fluids throughout the body.
5. Long term brain health
6. Increases brown fat and burns off calories
White fat is the bad guy everyone knows about and brown fat is the good guy hardly anyone’s heard of. The white stuff is the common fat that everyone is desperate to get rid of, the heavy gloopy variety that clings stubbornly to parts we wish it didn’t and with enough mass starts to weigh us down and put pressure on our hearts.
The brown stuff is the rare, high quality fat, found aplenty in babies and yep you’ve guessed it, cold water lovers like you! Research has shown that exposure to the cold causes stem cells to form brown fat instead of white. It burns bright to keep you warm, and in the process burns off calories helping you to shed the weight you don’t need.
7. Stress resilience
With your daily cold shower you are building a robust nervous system and an ever increasing resilience to stress. When you turn the shower to cold and breathe rather than freak out, you are controlling your fight, flight & freeze response. You are remaining calm under pressure, absorbing stress and getting strong. And by practising this every day you are reclaiming your power one cold shower at a time!
8. Get sick less
One study in the Netherlands involving 3,000 participants found those who finished their daily shower with a 30 - 90 second cold blast were 29% less likely to take a sick-day than their colleagues after just 30-days of the trial.
9. Reduces Inflammation
Cold showers make for a faster recovery from, well…just about anything. A cold shower reduces inflammation. Whether it’s inflamed muscles or an inflamed ego, doesn’t matter; what our bodies and minds desperately need when they have been over-worked, over-stretched and over-stressed is to cool down. Cold showers cool down our physical and mental muscles, reducing inflammation and allowing us to ‘bounce back’ to our best, fast. Honestly, who doesn’t need that?
An Amazing Testimonial:
“I've lived with arthritis for a while and was having uncomfortable hot flushes that I was just living with, but the cold showers have been remarkable. I am by nature a 'warm climate' person and the thought of getting cold voluntarily went against everything I know or feel comfortable with. I thought the cold would make the arthritis more painful but I was so wrong. I feel much less stiff and the pain has decreased unbelievably. Also the hot flushes have almost gone - so I'm feeling like a new woman - thank you again! Perhaps the biggest benefit though has been a massive reduction in my mental 'reactivity' - situations and circumstance that would have thrown me into headless chicken mode now have a huge amount of space around them giving time to reflect, pause and meet the environment for what it is. Turning the tap to cold every morning makes me draw my mind under control every day - I really had no idea that something so simple could have such huge benefits - so I am a total convert!”
~ Dr Helen White.
10. Depression Busting
No one gets out of a cold shower the same as they got in. You can’t deny it’s a guaranteed state-changer and a massive mood-lifter, and now there’s study-based evidence! Researchers from the Virginia School of Medicine found that depressed patients taking a 2 min cold shower twice a day, showed SIGNIFICANT mood improvement. A further study found cold exposure more effective at steadying mood and controlling anxiety than a leading pharmaceutical drug, and another study found that cold water exposure worked amazingly for both depression and chronic fatigue.
Why? Because a cold shower activates the sympathetic nervous system, increasing blood flow to the brain, raising levels of beta-endorphin and norepinephrine, whilst also calming systemic inflammation, which is strongly associated with depression. Furthermore, because your skin has loads more cold receptors than warm ones, when that cold water hits your skin there’s a huge surge of electrical impulses from your peripheral nerve endings to your brain effectively shocking it out of depression!
11. Better night’s sleep
Your body temperature naturally drops around 10pm to prepare you for sleep, if the body is too warm it will struggle to make the shift into sleep. A study by researchers in Lille, France found subjects fell asleep faster and had a better quality sleep after taking a cold shower. Who’s up for a cold shower twice a day? One to wake us up and one to send us to sleep!
12. Reclaim your power & believe in yourself
As you are about to turn that shower dial to cold your mind will give you every possible excuse not to do it. Is it true? These are the same excuses your mind is giving you all day long. This is your inner voice of mediocrity! But you are turning that dial cold and with each turn you are getting stronger, can you feel it? That voice of mediocrity may still be whispering in your ear but it no longer has the power over you that it once had. You see, every time you get non negotiable with the cold shower you are showing your mind who’s the boss, who’s the master and who’s the one calling the shots. It’s empowering isn’t it? That new inner conviction, that sense that you can make things happen, that you have the strength to push through adversity and overcome challenges. This is because you are meeting the challenge of the cold each day and every time you are coming out as the winner.TOP TIPS:
If you can control your breath you can control your mind, and if you can control your mind you can conquer the cold. So the secret to cold showering is to breathe. Get your breathing going just before you turn the dial to cold and then stay with it the whole way through. Make your breathing match the intensity of the cold and before long the gasp reflex you may be experiencing will be transformed into deep, regulated and harmonious breathing. This simple thing will transform your cold shower experience and make you a Master of the Cold!
Make it Non Negotiable!
The mind will resist but turn the shower dial to cold anyway and embrace the discomfort, that’s called taking back control of your mind. You are stronger than you know. Your greatest detractor is going to become your greatest cheerleader and with this will come the kind of self respect and self belief you deserve.
If I’m Unwell, Should I Take a Cold Shower?
Always trust your feeling with this but if you are in any doubt, here’s what works for me…
"If your sickness is from the neck up, carry on. If your sickness is from the neck down, stop."
So, in my experience if I have a cold, sore throat or headache, then I am good to continue with your cold showers. If it’s gone down to my chest or if its in my abdomen I tend to take a pause. Over years of cold showering you will develop an amazing ability to read your own body and intuit what it needs. Let the cold be your teacher!
Cold Training & the Menstrual Cycle
Should one take a cold shower during menstruation? Don’t listen to your mind on this one; ask your body! There is no danger in taking a ‘cold one’ during menstruation, but equally there is nothing lost in taking a few well earned days off and letting your system rest and your energies internalise. It’s not possible to ‘fall behind’ or ‘lose ground’ in any way, quite the contrary; it’s called honouring your natural cycle.
Give yourself special permission when coming into your menstrual bleed time, to experiment and to remember these things never have to be an ‘all or nothing’ scenario. Sometimes it might feel good to direct the cold water to some body parts e.g feet, legs, arms and face, whilst leaving other parts in the warm. Turning the cold part way, instead full, can also feel nourishing. The good news is, whether you’re ‘all on’, ‘all off’ or ‘somewhere in-between’ with your cold showers during menstruation, there is a heap of evidence suggesting cold showers during the rest of the month are just brilliant for overall regulation of hormones and your menstrual cycle.
By the way, Cold Water Training is nothing new
We’ve been using cold water to heal ourselves for thousands of years. It is one of nature’s miraculous medicines and it’s completely free. Hippocrates was prescribing it 2500 years ago, the ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans were all at it and our Scandinavian friends have been using it alongside saunas for at least a millennia. Now here we are, in need of it more than ever, and here it is for us, still free and still available for anyone who has the nerve to take a cold hit.
It must now surely be beyond doubt why Cold Water Training is one of the 5 Components of the Living Yoga Method!