Ishnaan Therapy (Cold Shower)

"Go for it! When the cold water hits the surface of your skin (which has four layers) all the blood from way deep inside your body rushes to the surface in self-defense, vastly improving your circulation on the spot. This is called Hydrotherapy. It strengthens your entire nervous system. People pay huge sums of money for what is now called "Hydrothermal therapy" when in reality all you need is cold water!

But first, before you get wet, massage your body all over with a little oil. Oil is more easily absorbed by the skin when it is mixed with water–and you won’t be greasy afterwards. Almond oil is highly recommended since the almond contains so many minerals, and it nourishes the body through the pores of the skin.

Go in and out of the water four times, constantly massaging your body until the water no longer feels cold. Be sure not to miss the area under your arms, which is where the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems meet. You can even stand on one foot and massage the top of it with the other foot. Women, be sure to massage your breasts."

Above Information From the Book:
The Flow of Eternal Power by Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa

Download Video

Your first victory of the day! You will probably become very holy the moment the cold water hits your body, because it is likely you will shout, "Oh my God!" You might try exclaiming "Wahe Guru" ("Wow, God is Great!") or "Ang Sang Wahe Guru" ("God lives in every limb of my being.") Remembering God is always a blessing.

Dry off briskly with a rough towel till the body really shines; put on loose, comfortable exercise clothing, and you’re ready to do your sadhana, your personal daily spiritual practice. God bless you, you’re bound to have a wonderful day!

Exceptions for women: Don’t take cold showers during your monthly period and No cold showers after the seventh month of pregnancy; take lukewarm, body temperature showers instead.

The Flow of Eternal Power by Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa "When we do ice-cold water massage, not only do we open up the capillaries, but when they return to normal, that blood goes back to the organs."

28 Responses to “Ishnaan Therapy (Cold Shower)”

  1. SikhsRus says:

    Gurumustuk Singh,

    Sorry off the subject of cold showers here, but I wanted to share. I was thinking about the SikhiWiki that you had started and how you wanted to create an encyclopedia of anything and everything about Sikhs past and present. I don't know if it is legally possible for you, but what if you were to collect all the posts from Sikh blogs and have a panel of panj piaray (five beloved ones) decide what is interesting to include in the encyclopedia. As I said I don't know if people will allow you to copy and paste their posts from their blogs and if Sikhnet has the resources to do it. You are always welcome to copy/paste anything writing my blog if it interests you. There is a lot of great information, thoughts on people's blogs about Sikhs and Sikhi and it will make a great encyclopedia. What do you think?

  2. Wahe Guru ji ka Khalsa ||
    Wahe Guru ji ki Fateh ||

    What does taking a cold shower have to do with Ishnaan?

    Does Amrit come out of the shower spigot?

    Amrit is “the Ambrosial Nectar of the Word of God.” Not the water in your shower.

    Guru Ram Das wrote:

    gur sathigur kaa jo sikh akhaaeae s bhalakae out(h) har naam dhhiaavai ||
    oudham karae bhalakae parabhaathee eisanaan karae a(n)mrith sar naavai ||
    One who calls himself a Sikh of the Guru, the True Guru, shall rise in the early morning hours and meditate on the Lord’s Name.
    Upon arising early in the morning, he is to perform Ishaan, and cleanse himself in the pool of nectar.

    Ishnaan is usually interpreted as “he is to bathe.” But bathing is not what the Guru is talking about.

    Again this a description of the result of Liberation and not how to become liberated. This is something that we are to whole heartedly emulate and not to just “fake.”

    Most people believe that Ishnan is physically taking taking a dip or bath. But this is not true. How can you take a dip in something that is ethereal, Amrit?

    Ishnan is a mental state where you feel that within your brain you are taking a bath in the Ambrosial Nectar,

    Let your mind be intoxicated with the stream of Ambrosial Nectar which trickles down from the furnace of the Tenth Gate. ||1|| Bhagat Kabir

    your eyes tear,

    Those who continually chant the Ambrosial Words of Nectar see and behold this Amrit everywhere with their eyes. || Guru Amar Das

    and you can taste the Amrit.

    The True Guru has blessed me with the Lord’s Name, and I have tasted the Ambrosial Nectar. || Guru Arjan

    This should all seem familiar to anyone who has taken Khande di Pahul. I believe that when the symbolic Amrit is splashed on the head, in the eyes and sipped, it is a symbolic initiation into what Ishnan is. However, it is never explained in those terms.

    Chardi Kalaa

    Amar Prakash Singh

  3. SikhsRus says:

    I say, doing both ishnans every morning would be the best thing. Waheguru!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Here’s a testimonial from CNN!

  5. It’s been a little while since I took a cold shower so this morning I thought… “Hey..why don’t I take a cold shower!”.

    It’s winter and cold…so I am always a little wary to get in the water at first. Once I get going though my body starts to really warm up and “vibrate/glow”. Normally after a few minutes the water doesn’t feel so cold anymore and I am pretty warm.

    After taking the cold shower I felt totally awake and ready to do my morning Sadhana…and was able to be much more into it. When you wake up in the morning it can be hard sometimes to get your body going.

    Whenever I am feeling tired and really need to wake up…I don’t jump to coffee…but take a cold shower…and it does wonders! It’s my morning coffee substitute.

    Anways… those of you that are wanting some adventure…give it a try and let me know how it goes! Have fun! I can already hear you shouting “Wahe Guru, Wahe Guru, Wahe Guru, Wahe Guru, Wahe Guru” as the cold water hits your body.. hahaha…

  6. SikhsRus says:

    Back to cold showers, Gurumutuk Ji, could you post something to help encourage kids and teenagers to take cold showers. Also, I don’t think the water has to be really cold, because growing up as a kid in Punjab, the ground water from the nalka ( handpump) is intially cold, but if it is let run for few minutes, it feel quite warm. But that is not the case with water from cold pipes or reservoirs. Well water would be warm if it is freshly pumped but if it is pulled with buckets as in some parts of Punjab it will be cold.

  7. Ha ha ha Gurumustak!!!! i thought you were being facetious at first when you mentioned it a couple of weeks ago! :)

    but in all seriousness Gurumustak and Guruka how cold is cold? up here in the winters(right now) water can be at below freezing sometimes! :) so is there a temperature range?

    btw, it’s soooooooo cold here this week!!! 30/-1 is the high for today!!! brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

    and yes, i’m a believer in cold showers, i love the way my body feels afterwards. but i read a lot about taking hot showers after working out and it being really good for the muscles?? is that true?

    ps…i’m also one of those people who believe that physical ishnaan is not what guru ji’s had in mind…it’s not meant to be taken literally. i just refuse to believe that after what Guru Nanak did at Ganga that Gurus would teach sikhs that if you take physical ishnaan at a certain sarovar that your ills would heal. it’s just my personal belief and i only impose it on my family and no one else :)))

    pss…i haven’t watched Guruka’s video! sorry!

    and where’re your x-mas lists guys?

  8. SikhRus: is an “open source” website. You don’t need to ask permission to make your idea become reality. You may have to get permission to use materials…but anyone can add content to the Wiki.

    What IS needed is people to spearhead projects and add content. Very few people take the time to contribute (unfortunately). There is only one really active contributor and a smaller number of people that do minor edits.

    If you have the drive…please do get involved…and try to get others too. :)

  9. IkSingh: I’m not trying to start a contraversy. Let’s just call it “Hydrotherapy”…ok? I’m not attached. For me taking the cold shower is not a spiritual thing…it is a pratical and physical thing which can help my body and get my energy moving.

    For those who haven’t done this…you have to do it to know what I mean.

    Yes…there are varied temperatures of cold water. I find that if it is not cold enough (like in the summer) I don’t feel the same benefits. I think there is an optimum cold temp…but that may be different for people.

    If the cold water doesn’t make me shout waheguru…and really feel the cold…than it is not cold enough. It’s got to have a “kick” hahaha…

    I think this is beneficial practice…when you are getting up in the morning and doing banis or meditation. It really gets you up and flowing. Otherwise your body is still in half slumber…and not awake.

    This is one of those things that you just have to do.

    I love hot showers…and generally do that at night. Relaxes me and slows me down…as I get ready for the night. I’m not saying one should only take cold showers. I think a cold shower is just another tool in your arsenal that you can choose to use as needed, though very valuable as a daily practice.

  10. gurumustak, ishnaan means to take a bath/shower, i don’t think there’s any controversy over what ishnaan means.

    hot showers at night? cold in the morning? hmmmmmmmmmmmm i’m going to try that therapy and if my back gets worse i know where to find you! :)

  11. SikhsRus says:

    Another question on Sikhiwiki, if I see something that may be of interest to most Sikhs, how do get that information to be included in the encyclopedia? Do we send the link or can we copy and paste information or does the information have to be just that person’s own stuff like pictures, poems, articles etc. for submission.

  12. SikhRus: Email me and I can assist with these questions. Basically you can create a new page/article for anything Sikh related and write/paste in content, upload pictures etc.

    See the tuturials that we made to help you learn how to do this.

  13. Anonymous says:

    There may be some truth to it and those who grew up in Punjab villages will tell you that. I remember in village, the leders would do this everyday. They will rub off oil on their body and then take bath with cold water. They claimed it was good for the body and would ask us to do the same. But we were too little and naive to understand it or believe them to try it on!

  14. Anonymous says:

    There may be some truth to it and those who grew up in Punjab villages will tell you that. I remember in village, the leders would do this everyday. They will rub off oil on their body and then take bath with cold water. They claimed it was good for the body and would ask us to do the same. But we were too little and naive to understand it or believe them to try it on!

  15. manjit, whenever you use someone else’s work just make sure you give that person credit. work you post doesn’t have to be yours as long as you properly credit the source.

    if you’re copying a picture from a blog (prabhu’s blog)…and he doesn’t have any copyright statements on his blog then you can go ahead and copy the image from his blog and upload it to sikhi wikki (without any credit to prabhu). but if he does have copyright info then you have to ask for his permission.

    as far as excerpts from newspaper articles and magazines…just give a link (but you don’t have to make it a hyperlink…just plain text will do)…

    i hope all that made sense…

  16. Wahe Guru ji ka Khalsa ||
    Wahe Guru ji ki Fateh ||

    ਿੲਕ ਿਸੰਘ

    You have made a couple of very conflicting statements in your posts about Ishnaan.

    First you wrote: “i’m also one of those people who believe that physical ishnaan is not what guru ji’s had in mind…it’s not meant to be taken literally.”

    Then you write: “ishnaan means to take a bath/shower, i don’t think there’s any controversy over what ishnaan means.”

    If you don’t believe Ishnaan is to be taken literally, why would you think that Ishnaan is a bath? That is very literal.

    I believe that there is a controversy over what Ishnaan means. Through contemplation I have come to understand that everything in Sikhi is Transcendental, it’s all in the mind, and what most people believe is grounded in Maya (taking the literal meaning.) Somewhere along the line, what was symbolic became real and what was real became symbolic. It’s as if Sikhi has been hijacked by the people who most do not understand their religion. Guru Arjan warned us about this many years ago but we have not heeded his warnings. The farther away we get from the Guru’s teachings the more we will stray.

    Aasaa, Fifth Mehl: They give you donations and worship you. You take from them, and then deny that they have given anything to you. That door, through which you must ultimately go, O Brahmin – at that door, you will come to regret and repent. ||1|| Such Brahmins shall drown, O Siblings of Destiny; they think of doing evil to the innocent. ||1||Pause|| Within them is greed, and they wander around like mad dogs. They slander others and carry loads of sin upon their heads. Intoxicated by Maya, they do not think of the Lord. Deluded by doubt, they wander off on many paths. ||2|| Outwardly, they wear various religious robes, but within, they are enveloped by poison. They instruct others, but do not understand themselves. Such Brahmins will never be emancipated. ||3|| O foolish Brahmin, reflect upon God. He watches and hears, and is always with you. Says Nanak, if this is your destiny, renounce your pride, and grasp the Guru’s Feet. ||4||8||

    I think that this a very good description of what has become of Sikh leadership today, this primarily describes the members of the Takhats and the SGPC.

    Please read my first post again. Ishnaan is not taking a dip or a bath or shower.

    Chardi Kalaa

    Amar Prakash Singh

  17. Anonymous says:

    I agree with amar prakash singhji

  18. xSHANTIx says:

    i think the message here is about getting an experience throughout your day and becoming God centred the moment you wake up. And taking a cold shower is certainly a good way to wake up! It means ishnaan is becoming part of your routine and part of the parts of life which you look forward to, the ishnaan becomes part of your spiritual practice. I wudnt say any particular way of washing was better than the other BUT this is a form of hydrotherapy and as Guruka Ji has decribed is one of the proven ways to stimulate and prepare our bodies for the day ahead. I dont think the point of this clip was to show a direct link between Sikhism and cold water!! Anyway.. it does take courage to do those things. As Yogi Bhajan said..its not the life you lead, but the courage you bring to it! sat nam

  19. APS, no i didn’t contradict myself. and i’ll try my best to explain to you what seems so simple in my head.

    origin of my definition of Ishnaan:
    i learned that word not through books or scriptures but through spoken language. “main ishnaan keeta hai”, when they’d just taken a bath…i didn’t hear recitation or anything else…it didn’t seem any different from anyother baths…therefore ishnaan means bath/shower

    when reading the SGGS “ishnaan in the pool of nectar”…i don’t think that means that there is a pool of nectar out there somewhere where you take a dip/bath/ishnaan in literally. like you said it’s symbolic not literal. therefore: not meant to be taken literally.

    and when Gurumustak called it Ishnaan therapy…to me it means a cold shower therapy…and nothing more.

    honestly amar prakash singh ji i agree that a lot of things are taken literally and they shouldn’t be.

    But having watched Guruka’s video post and read Gurumustak’s post and then read your post again…:)

    i think we’re getting our vocabularies mixed up. i’m sorry if i confused taking a simple bath with something more sacred but that’s what i learnt as a kid and i’ll have to ask around if the definition of Ishnaan is only of what you think or is it just a verb outside of SGGS…i would think it has to be though (sorry thnking as i write)…cuz how do you invent a verb on the fly? or was it the case with Ishnaan?

    like if the word Ish=god and Naan=bathe???

    is that what it means…(again i just thought of this…so you’re reading my thought process…sorry!)

    please educate if that is the case…

  20. Wahe Guru ji ka Khalsa ||
    Wahe Guru ji ki Fateh ||

    ਿੲਕ ਿਸੰਘ
    In your last post you wrote: “like if the word Ish=god and Naan=bathe???”

    I think that we are on the same page here. It is so difficult when language gets in the way. It is taking a bath but not in the same way that we think of what a bath is.

    Isnaan is like taking a bath in “the Ambrosial Nectar of the Word of God.” It has nothing to do with physically or literally getting wet but letting your mind be intoxicated with the stream of Ambrosial Nectar which trickles down from the furnace of the Tenth Gate. ||1|| Bhagat Kabir

    It is as if a spigot has been turned on and you are deluged with Amrit through your Ten Gate.

    I agree that taking a cold shower in the morning has its benifits but we shouldn’t be confusing it with Ishnaan.

    Chardi Kalaa

    Amar Prakash Singh

  21. Harvinder Singh says:

    Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Wahe Guru Ji Ke Fathae!

    Ego works very mysteriously you may not even know when Ego is doing it’s work. Soon as You think someone else is wrong and you are correct Ego is doing it’s work. When one has lots of knowledge they like to tell others about it, then you know Ego is doing it’s work. it is easy to take long quotes From Guru Granth Sahib Ji and pretend to know lots, but those who really understand remain silent.

    keep silent and say WaheGuru over and over over and over and over and over and over and over until your last breath ( If thats what God wants from you).

    (Why did Guru Amardas Ji carry pot of water from the river for 12 years :so Guru Angad Dev Ji could do Ishnaan (A physical Ishnaan)?

    Forgive me: My Ego Said you beter make a comment!

  22. Guru Darbar says:

    Sat Nam,

    Amar Prakash, it sounds like you don’t like the cold water …. ha ha.

    If one takes a cold (and I mean New Mexico in the winter cold) shower, it really is a religious experience. All I can say when that cold water hits the skin is “Waheguru!” or “SH*T!” or maybe both. Sometimes even my life seemingly flashes before my eyes and I’ve seen God face to face. There is no doubt that a cold shower is awakening both spiritually and mentally.

    So, I think that when Guru Nanak says “Kar Ishnaan, Simran Prab Apne” he means it both literally and figuratively.


  23. Simra Kaur says:

    we can get hypothermia by taking a cold shower in the winter . What should we do?

  24. simran singh says:

    Do the opposite to your liking Simra Kaur :)

  25. Macha says:

    I have a question
    I am a female so I would like to ask….
    Why no cold shower during the monthly period..?

    Kind regards,

    • Guruka Singh says:

      The cold water makes the capillaries in the skin dialate. The blood rushes outwards to the skin and shifts the circulation into high-gear. When you have your period, you don’t want to pull the blood outwards because it is concentrating centrally in the uterus for the menses. Also there may be cramps as the uterine lining is shedding. Cold water slows down the flow and may make cramps worse as well. So for those few days, take a warm shower. When your flow ends, go back to a cold shower.

  26. Macha says:

    Thank you for answering and explaining Guruka Singh
    Kind regards,

  27. Spencer says:

    Definitely some good stuff here. In the original post as well as in the comments!

    Keep up the good work!