Every time I post about warm baths, people ask me if cold showers and cold plunges are good. And for the answer, I would say that it is not an Ayurvedic practice.
Here is why.
Your internal environment is warm, i.e., your body needs warmth for digestion, circulation and all metabolic processes.
Just imagine how during winters, because the external environment is cold, your body tries to keep the internal environment warm. Similarly, when you do cold plunges, your body will have to work hard to preserve that warmth.
Do you really want your body to work so hard? No!
Effect of cold plunges or showers on your body
When you plunge yourself in cold water, you are only aggravating the Vata and increasing the cold. This can mean aches, pains, muscle stiffness, dryness, low metabolism, impaired digestion and imbalanced hormones!
Cold plunges and showers can be stressful on the body, especially if done regularly or for extended periods. This can lead to an increase in the stress hormone cortisol, which can negatively impact the immune system, digestion, and mental health. In Ayurveda, stress is considered a major contributor to disease. So, it is important to avoid anything that causes unnecessary stress on the body.
Cold temperatures can negatively impact the neurological system and this can result in a number of physical and mental health problems. The neurological system is in charge of everything, including respiration, digestion, and sleep. Anxiety, sleeplessness, digestive problems and even chronic pain can result from a disturbed neural system.
Warm showers, on the contrary, are Vata subsiding and are best recommended in Ayurveda. As an Ayurvedic doctor, I’d recommend always listening to your body. After all, what it needs is warmth.
Who can do cold plunges/showers?
If you are someone who is habituated to taking bath in cold water, you can continue doing so. This is because it has become “Satmya” for you (favourable by habit). It won’t cause any disturbance in the body.