Article:    Cold plunge

Quite a few people I know are following Tim Ferris’s book ‘ The four hour body’. In this ferris shows simple ways to get a better body and also includes a diet which I know a number of people are following with great results (three new holes on the belt and nine pounds of weight loss in another case without chopping your arm off) Ferris advocates cold baths as a way of boosting the metabolism yet most people find this very hard. Being a veteran cold bather I was asked how to do it.

Cold bathing is really good for you though at times it doesn’t feel like it. It boosts circulation and cleanses organs and is a deeply spiritual practice. When I first started Silat they said ‘we fast and do cold baths to achieve spiritual insight’. I thought well I’ve been doing cold baths for years and have just come off a seven day water fast so I must be half way there! Despite these lofty claims it just defines your day and puts you in charge. No more lofty claims than that. I started for pain relief when I had my bad hips but it works whatever your situation or how lowly your spiritual attainment.

Here’s the method I use: Fill the bath so it’s above hip depth (deeper is ok but why wast water) First step walk in the water until you feel the pain in your ankles peaking. This is just your peripheral circulation closing down and shunting blood to the interior. Once that’s ok kneel down – you’ll find this easier the muscles are bigger and the cold doesn’t have the same effect as on bony ankles. Next step. Sit down in the bath. This is one of the big ones. You’ll freeze up and not want to get cold water on your warm upper body. The secret is to get all four quarters into the water. So put your hands in and feel how much easier that is on your body. Move a little then start to rub water up your arms and onto your shoulder. The next big step is to lie down. BEFORE you do this scoop some water onto your heart area so that the body has some warning  of what is to come. Lie down and breath the first couple of seconds can be alarming but pretty soon you’ll feel warmer. Don’t let this last too long as you’re warming the water up around your body. Move your arms and legs a little and flip your back up and down to ensure that it’s cold water around you. Timing. How do you know how long to stay in the water? The answer initially is don’t stay too long as you can get low blood pressure or get very cold and that could last all day. Here’s my next step:  Sit up and wash your upper body then lie down to rinse. (You’re not doing the bath to get clean per se but you might as well do it whilst you’re there. ) Then repeat on your lower half kneeling or standing in the bath then again lie down to rinse. Then I lie about another minute until I’m feeling comfortable then I know it’s time to get out. Be careful when getting up fast as in rare cases your blood pressure can be lower. What do you do next. Two options: one towel off hard to bring circulation back to the skin or have a warm shower, not a hot one. Make sure you have a warm drink nearby ( I take up a boiling cup of tea before my bath and by the time I’m out it’s great to drink)  Next put warm clothes on and if you have one put a hat on for a few minutes. You’ll feel great and tingling all over. In many ways you feel ten years younger-aches and pains are relieved and you’re in charge of your day. Not the day in control of you.

If you’re just starting do cold showers for a week or so to get used to it. Like all things you have to be sensible. If it makes you feel a bit unwell you’ve probably stayed in too long. Try it for a week (take the weekend off ) You’ll love it. More spiritual maybe, more stoical definitely.