Have you ever turned the shower faucet all the way to cold in an attempt to wake up, or noticed the way a hot bath after a long day seems to melt your worries away? This act of manipulating the temperature of our environment in order to alter our state of being, commonly referred to as “hot and cold therapy,” has been used in the practice of Ayurveda for centuries. This holistic science revolves around the balance of three fundamental energies or doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, in order to promote optimal wellbeing. Read on to discover how temperature variations in your wellness practice can balance the doshas, enhance vitality, and promote whole-body healing!
Heat therapy, referred to as "Ushna Chikitsa" in Ayurveda, involves the application of heat to the body. It’s particularly beneficial for individuals with a high constitution of Vata and Kapha doshas, as it can help to counterbalance their colder and heavier qualities. Some examples of heat therapy include soaking in a warm bath, hot oil massage, drinking a cup of hot herbal tea, and spending time in a sauna or steam room.
Heat therapy helps to stimulate the digestive fire, known as "Agni" in Ayurveda. A strong Agni is essential for efficient digestion and absorption of nutrients. If you experience sluggish digestion or digestive discomfort, heat therapy such as drinking a cup of hot herbal tea can help to alleviate symptoms of bloating and indigestion.
Enhanced Blood Circulation
Heat therapy, such as hot oil massage or time spent in a sauna or steam room promotes improved blood circulation throughout the body. This enhanced circulation helps to deliver vital nutrients and oxygen to the cells while aiding in the removal of metabolic waste and toxins.
The process of sweating out excess toxins supports healthy, glowing skin! Additionally, practices like massage supplemented with hot oils or towels help promote skin’s ability to absorb any products applied.
Priti Tip: Next time you plan to enter a sauna or steam room, pack your favorite face mask! Thoroughly cleanse your face and apply a generous layer of a hydrating mask, like our MahaMask™ Pampering Moisture Treatment, before entering the room. The heat will allow your skin to better absorb the product while detoxifying skin and removing impurities. Be sure to wash your face as well as your entire body thoroughly after exiting to rinse off excess toxins and drink water throughout the day to replenish any electrolytes lost!
Cold therapy, known as "Shita Chikitsa" in Ayurveda, involves the application of cold or cool substances to the body. It’s particularly beneficial for individuals with a high constitution of Pitta and Kapha doshas to cool their hotter, more intense qualities while alleviating any stagnation (i.e. inflammation.) Examples of cold therapy include taking a cold shower or ice bath, using an ice roller in your skincare routine or to soothe muscle soreness, and applying a cold compress to the body.
One of the primary benefits of cold therapy is its ability to soothe and reduce inflammation. Inflammatory conditions can manifest in the body as skin irritations, joint pain or stiffness, digestive discomfort, and other uncomfortable symptoms. Cold therapy including the consumption of cooling herbs and foods or application of ice or a cold compress helps to balance this excess heat, providing cooling relief.
Improved Mental Clarity and Alertness
One of the most powerful effects of cold exposure is its ability to stimulate the nervous system and awaken the mind. If you find yourself in a situation that requires increased alertness such as an important meeting or if you’re just struggling to shake off afternoon sluggishness, try ice-rolling your face or taking a cold shower!
Priti Tip: Notice any sensations that may arise while reading this post. Does the thought of a cold plunge send an unpleasant shiver down your spine but 10 minutes in the sauna sounds like the perfect way to end the day? This could be an indicator of your Dosha constitution! Check out our Discover Your Dosha blog post to learn more.
Incorporating hot and cold therapy into your self care routine is a powerful tool to promote presence and mental clarity, balance the doshas, and promote overall wellness. Remember to listen to your body and implement these techniques slowly and thoughtfully and you’ll be on your way to creating a healthy, harmonious daily routine that allows you to take on the world fearlessly.