Welcome to my first blog for My Home Vitality.
My name is Barry Westley, founder of Chi Baton® Arts (for those interested in more detail of who I am and what I do, please visit my website www.chibaton.co.uk).
For this first blog I thought I would talk about my own individual experience of cold water therapy.
How I started cold water immersion therapy
I first began seriously using cold water in 1981 when I began training in Healing Shiatsu.
Much of the work centred around Meditation and Mindfulness, and the day started with mindful pacing to a cold water stream (in a Buddhist retreat in Wales) where you stood in the stream and splashed yourself with freezing water.
This was done in a particular way, first starting with about six generous splashes on each of the insides of your forearms, then six splashes on the back of your neck and then six splashes on your belly. (When a convenient nearby stream was not available, you could fill a basin with cold water and follow the same process).
Why would you do this? By splashing those areas in that particular way, you would kick start your heating system (particularly the Triple Heater) and energise the body ready for the day.
After doing this, a few minutes later, you could then have your usual shower, but it was important to do the cold treatment first.
I call this method my ‘Shiatsu Splash’.
How my cold water therapy practices evolved
I continued using the ‘Shiatsu Splash’ until some years ago when I began to study the Russian martial art of Systema.
One of the practices valued by some serious Systema students, is to tip a large bucket of ice-cold water over your head each morning.
The shock of this is meant to stimulate your immune system, and strengthen your bones and heart, etc.
For the next few years, I diligently practiced this method, but eventually stopped. Because of my advanced years, my wife was convinced that the shock of the cold water would sooner or later prove fatal to me and she didn’t want to find me dead on the floor one morning!
I returned to the gentler ‘Shiatsu Splash’ for a while until I became interested in the work of Win Hof (the ‘ice man’) and developed a different routine.
I have followed this routine for over eighteen months without missing a day, so feel qualified to comment on it.
There are many supposed benefits to this but they are well documented on YouTube so I won’t go into them here. I’ll just focus on my own experience.
After first having my ‘special’ morning drink (more of this in a later blog), I then do three rounds of Wim Hof breathing (30 deep breaths in and 30 shallow breaths out. After the last out-breath I hold my breath for about a minute. I then take a deep in-breath and hold it for 15-plus seconds).
I then step into the shower and start my regime.
My cold water immersion regime
This cold water immersion routine takes between five and a half to six and a half minutes on average.
10 seconds cold water on each of my forearms, 10 seconds on my neck and head, and then 10 seconds on my belly. (Notice I have taken this from the Shiatsu Splash, to kick in my heating system.)
Play the cold water systematically over my body starting at the calves (10 seconds each) and thighs (10 seconds each).
Next, I spray the genitals (10 seconds), then I concentrate on the testicles (30 seconds). I do this because there is a rumour that the Russian weightlifters used to use ice on their testicles to stimulate the production of testosterone. This is all conjecture, of course, but as you steadily start to lose testosterone production as you age and I am coming up to 69 years old at the time of writing, it seems worth a shot!
Next, I shower my chest (10 seconds), each of my sides (10 seconds each), my armpits (10 seconds each), my shoulders and my arms (10 seconds each).
I then douse my head again (10 seconds), my back (60 seconds), my head again (10 seconds) and my front again (30 seconds). I then focus on any injuries or stiff parts of my body.
Cold water benefits
Benefits? A tricky one this. It’s all conjecture, but here it goes.
I haven’t lost any weight, so I wouldn’t recommend this regime for weight loss. In fact, I have put on a couple of pounds. This seems logical as the body will lay down fat to try and protect itself from the cold, despite the stimulation of the brown fat cells and increased metabolism supposedly resulting from the therapy.
My hair has suddenly become very thick. To the point that I have decided to grow it again (I haven’t done this for 20 years as I was going thin on top so preferred to close crop it.)
I have certainly noticed an improved resistance to cold, but the MAIN benefit is psychological.
Immersing in cold water is said to stimulate areas of the brain that release feel-good chemicals, giving a sense of overall well-being. I certainly feel that this is true in my case!
On top of this, it helps you to feel good about yourself. You have had the balls to put yourself through five or six minutes of discomfort at the start of the day. You can face anything now.
You have an improved self-image. I can’t over-stress the importance of this. As I believe most of our problems: physical, mental and spiritual come from our attitude of mind, if we can alter this we are on a winner.
Try a cold shower!
I hope you have found this interesting and remember, if an old codger like me can have a cold shower in the morning, how easy will it be for all you young blades?
Take care, and will talk again soon.