Holy #%*@!! Ishnaan Therapy

The icy waters at Hemkunt Sahib. Taking a dip here is profoundly healing.

The icy waters at Hemkunt Sahib. Taking a dip here is profoundly healing.

For many, it might seem absurd to suggest that you give up your warm showers for a jolting, slap-in-the-face cold shower. But taking cold showers – a practice known as Ishnaan Therapy – can keep you healthy, happy, and holy. 

As preparation for deep meditation, yogi’s have been practicing Ishnaan Therapy for millennia. Immersing the body in cold water – whether in an outdoor lake or your shower at home – offers many benefits.

Among the benefits...

Cold showers jump start your circulation: your capillaries open as blood rushes to the surface of your skin. The increase in circulation is energizing, can help get rid of cellulite, and helps the body flush out lactic acid.

Cold water in the eyes helps increase circulation there too which in turn can help keep your eyes healthy and can delay and even reverse degenerating eye sight associated with aging.

While hot water will dry out your skin and hair, cold showers help to keep your skin young and supple, your hair shiny. 

Cold showers can help fight depression. The increase in circulation is mood-boosting and the cold water clears the electromagnetic field, helping to release negative thought patterns and impressions.

Cold showers help strengthen the nervous system allowing the body to both recover from and better handle stress.

You can start your day with a victory! Your ego may try and trick you into not taking a cold shower. When you exert your will to turn on the cold water, you overcome your ego and WIN the battle with your mind.

Finally, by invigorating the body and reining in the mind, Ishnaan Therapy is excellent preparation for yoga and meditation.

A Few Tips for Your Ishnaan Therapy

Really, any way you do your cold shower works. But there are some tips to make your time in the icy water more productive and that can help take out the sting. 

Before you shower, massaging the body with almond oil is great for the skin and stimulates circulation which will make your plunge into the cold water that much easier.

Start one limb at a time, hokey pokey style. Put your right arm in, massage it and take it out. Put your left arm in, massage it and take it out. Repeat with each of your legs. Then you’re ready for full body immersion. Continue to massage your body throughout your shower and ladies, make sure you massage your breasts, including underneath.

Come out of the cold water and go back in for a minimum of three full body immersions.

If you need to wash your body, glycerin soaps work well in cold water. It's also okay to warm up the water a bit - warm not hot - while you wash your hair and body. Just make sure you end with a final rinse in cold water. Hot water will leave your pores open and make you more susceptible to catching whatever cold or flu is making the rounds. 

You can make it a holy experience. Whether your mantra is holy #%*@!! or Wahe Guru, feel free to chant.


People with heart conditions are advised not to take cold showers. Women should avoid cold showers on the three heaviest days of their period and after the seventh month of pregnancy.