What does Ayurveda say about cold plunging indeed!? This is an interesting one… Ayurveda looks at the qualities of one's actions, and how they might interplay with the individual in question. It’s all about qualities meeting qualities, and no two people or situations are the same.

Strength of the body

How strong is the person in question? Do they have a robust body, mind and spirit and are they in balance? If they are both strong and in balance then Ayurveda says that taking cold plunges could be good for them.

Cold Can Increase Longevity

The texts talk about cold increasing longevity. Think of the monks up the mountains, meditating in the freezing cold Himalayas. Or people taking dips in the cold waters of the Ganga for ritual purification.

Internal Heat

If a person is in balance, taking cold plunges encourages the energy reserves to move inwards meaning a life-sustaining core heat is maintained. It stimulates the digestive fire (agni) which is the bedrock of health, as well as encouraging the other tissue and bodily fires to work properly. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali talk of withdrawing the senses out of the exterior sensual world, into the interior world. This process is called Pratyahara and is one of the 8 limbs of Yoga. Withdrawing heat inwards encourages Pratyahara. But much like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs sets out, a person should not try reaching for lofty spiritual heights if they are unstable. I would not recommend being in the cold for longer than about a minute though, as this could negatively affect the internal heat.

Vata Imbalance

Vata is cold and dry, erratic and flighty. Vata is also the vehicle that drives all imbalance. If a person has a shaky, erratic system, if they are nervous, anxious or suffering from wild thoughts and insomnia, then they have a vata imbalance. Taking cold plunges, cold baths and swimming in cold water will not help. It will push their vata further out of balance, meaning they are in a worse state than before they took the cold plunge. People with a vata imbalance need to stay warm.

Agility of Mind and Body

Moving from hot to cold for a person who is strong and well encourages agility and dexterity of mind and body. A shock to the system for a healthy person further promotes adaptability, but for a vulnerable being, could push them into shock! (Think: cold, clammy and shaky). When we are well, temperature changing reminds the body of how to circulate heat and cold healthily. It keeps the mind and body on its toes allowing for adaptability and strength of being. So in conclusion, if you are fit, strong and in balance then Ayurveda says taking a cold plunge for a minute or so is beneficial. But if you have a vata imbalance and are feeling unstable then cold plunging will not help. If you would like to treat your vata imbalance, feel free to get in touch with me here. By Selina Van Orden Selina Van Orden is an Ayurvedic physician and advisor to Pior Living atyourbest.one
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