Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How to laugh before breakfast and other yogi ideas …

Most of my yoga students have heard me go on and on about cold showers, though most seem unconvinced, it has to be said. I totally understand that they think I am crazy. I used to raise my eyebrows just as sceptically when my old yoga teacher told me about them - until I tried it myself.
I have always been the queen of hot baths, preferably accompanied by a cup of tea or a glass of wine and a good book, or my best friend sitting on the loo seat to chat to me (three sisters = no inhibitions), or on the end of the phone as a last resort. So, how can it be that in the last three weeks of living in the coldest, snowiest weather I can remember since I was a child, I have had precisely one hot bath and 22 cold showers? You only have to try it once to know the answer.

Honestly, I have had a cold shower every morning since I arrived, including the day we got off the plane from 30 to -2 degrees and snow, and a friend’s very under-heated flat. It takes your breath away of course. In fact it makes me laugh every time I do it, which is a good enough reason to do it in itself – how many mornings do you have a good laugh before breakfast?

Other benefits of hydrotherapy or ishnaan (cold showers) are well known. The practice keeps your skin radiant and softer, (this is definitely true for me, and no product has ever helped my skin before) opens up your capillaries, flushes all your organs (not literally, you should keep your mouth closed), keeps blood chemistry young and healthy and it stimulates healthy glandular secretions. It also strengthens and widens your aura, your electro-magnetic field, your light and your radiance.

You have to do it right though (for right, read, my way:-)). I do not follow all the rules of Ishnaan (there is a sequence of body massage you are supposed to follow but that takes about ten minutes which I think is way too long and uses up too much water.) But here is the more eco-friendly - or more cowardly - two minute version. The winter version. In the summer I can be under for much longer and wash my hair too if I am feeling brave. Of course in Cambodia it was hard to get a shower to be cold enough and you would be sweating minutes after getting dry, but in England, summer or winter, the water runs seriously cold.

In the bathroom, or near enough to it, do a few minutes of energetic yoga. Squats, breath of fire, and aura strengthening arm raises are my favourite. Then put some almond oil in your hands and massage your whole body for as long or as short as you like. Then get in the shower and start by putting your hands under and gradually put your whole body under while massaging your body vigorously as you do. Wash with some natural soap and when you have stopped laughing and have had enough get out! Dry yourself, get dressed straight away and ideally follow with your favourite yoga. And have a cup of yogi tea afterwards as you sit back and bask in your bravery and radiance. It is that simple.

I challenge you to try this for a week and come back and tell me how you feel. I do this every morning, preferably before the children wake up, and when I sit down to do yoga, despite the floors being made of stone, the sun not yet having risen and the heating not yet having come on, I really do feel very warm and very calm. And I bet if you asked my family whether they could tell which days I did this before breakfast they would be able to tell. (I just asked. They can.) It makes me a better mother there is no doubt about it. I feel uplifted and energetic throughout the day after this ritual, and I am much more patient and fun with my children.

Go on, have a go :-)
N.B. Do not practice the above if you are pregnant or have any health issues that would make this not a good idea. If at all concerned google Ishnaan and ask your doctor first.


Hana B said...

Brave, crazy warrior! I find this hard in the tropical cool season :( I did try it in UK once - screams instead of laughter unfort. Perhaps you need to be 'yogicly primed!'

Thinking of you lately as we're doing a 'yoga for kids course' held by the KY people here in BKK - can't wait! Also contemplating a move... to Cambodia(!) Change is in the wings. Hope you're still loving all of yours. Keep us posted on the pig(s).

Georgie said...

OOOOH keep me posted! Hope you love the kids yoga sure you will xxxx