There's a simple pleasure found in soaking and unwinding, allowing yourself to unplug from technology and stress while lounging in the bath. There are other considerations to hydrotherapy - including adding the right minerals, herbs or essential oils into the water to support your body and what temperature best suits your particular constitution.
Did you know that your skin subcutaneously absorbs the right amount of minerals it needs from any added high-grade bath salts? And that the temperature of the water (may it be cold, neutral, warm, or hot) will deeply affect your immune, lymphatic, circulatory, and nervous systems?
I feel like I need to specify that your skin absorbs the right amount of minerals from any added mineral salts added to your bath
The therapeutic use of water has been recorded in ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations. Hippocrates prescribed bathing in spring water for sickness.
Historically, hydrotherapy's primary goals were in strengthening the constitution of the body and removing poisons and toxins. But as we know, water can have a very calming, soothing effect on us physically and mentally too.
I've used hydrotherapy very successfully to treat a migraine headache. But I've also just resorted to taking a bath when I simply needed to shift gears and dissolve some stress or anxiety.
This is a treatment that can be used for insomnia, detoxification, pain relief, and to assuage your nervous system. Try incorporating the ritual of bathing into your day and see what effects you might experience.
- CONTRAST SHOWER
Our skin (as a reflex organ) communicates with the underlying organs of the body and the brain, and perhaps no other treatment demonstrates the immediacy of t his level of communication better than contrast therapies. This is a great morning routine.
The Contrast Shower, for example, is one of the most efficient ways to boost circulation, metabolism, and one’s immunity acting, in effect, as a tonic for body and mind.
Physiological Effects Include
• An increase in the temperature of the water by as little as 18 degrees F will increase the motility of the red and white blood cells by 2 to 3 times. The greater the difference between the hot and cold, the stronger the reaction.
• This is good because the delivery of vital oxygen to all cells is increased, and the white blood cells (which are our defense cells) are more available.
• Warmth alerts the hypothalamus (control center of the brain) via a sweating response, the heat loss center is turned on which prevents the body from overheating
• An increase in the respiration rate encourages greater elimination of carbon dioxide.
• Metabolism increases.
• The skin eliminates urea and uric acid.
• Warmth acts as a sedative to the nerve endings.
In contrast, when a cold application is applied, the brain is also alerted, and we observe vasoconstriction (goosebumps), a protective mechanism to ensure vital heat is not lost from the internal organs.
This occurs by virtue of the cold application stimulating the sympathetic fibers of the nervous system, particularly those of the adrenal glands and the thyroid. The release of thyroxin from the thyroid increases metabolism and boosts immunity.
Secondary Effects to this Therapy Include
• Respiration: Increases the intake of oxygen and the release of carbon dioxide.
• Increases uptake or release of glycogen by the liver into the blood.
• Increased motility of the digestive system (aiding digestion and elimination).
• Tone to the muscles of the body and the skin.
The Contrast Shower fully supports the balance of the autonomic nervous system. Its positive effects include energizing, calm, and enhanced focus.
Note of interest: The supposed beauty secret of a French woman is to splash the face and breasts with cold water daily.
In a spa setting, this therapy would typically be administered with a Vichy shower. Your home shower will work perfectly fine.
Stage 1: Three minutes warm, followed by 20 seconds cold.
Stage 2: Repeat, but increase the temperature of the warm and decrease the temperature of the cold (2 minutes hot, 40 seconds cold).
Stage 3: In the final application, again increase the warm and cold temperature for 1 minute each.
Summary: The actions of the short hot will increase vasodilation, circulation, and metabolism while increasing the speed and removal of metabolic waste and toxins. The action of the short cold will cause vasoconstriction, increasing the pump mechanism of the venous system, boosting metabolism and promoting immunity.
Compressing benefits your muscular, circulatory, nervous, and lymphatic systems.
1) Put a heaping tablespoon of compress into a french press or tea pot. Bring approximately 2 cups of water to a simmer on the stove; not quite to a boil is best for the phytonutrients. Pour hot water into your press or pot, over the compress. Allow your compress/tea water to steep for 5-15 minutes.
2) Roll up a hand towel and put it into a large bowl. After your compress tea has steeped, pour the tea (through a strainer) over the towel to completely saturate it. If your compress did not steep long allowing it to cool a bit, then the towel may be too hot to touch. Allow to cool down just slightly so it does not burn your skin.
3) Wring out the towel into the bowl so that it is not dripping too much, but make sure it’s still completely wet and saturated. Sitting or laying comfortably, wrap your face in the steamy towel. If you wrap with the center of the towel touching your chin, then you can wrap upwards leaving a hole for your nose to breathe out of.
4) While the compress is on your skin, you can press gently into your skin to further stimulate lymphatic flow and detoxing. You can sit with the compress on your skin as long as you like! If your towel starts to feel cool, you can go back to your bowl which should have some remaining warm tea. Re-saturate your towel and start again. You can leave the compress on for up to 30 minutes.
My favorite herbs for facial compresses: Calendula, Chamomile, Lavender, Nettle, Marshmallow, Rose, Tulsi.
PRO-TIPs: Don’t forget to compress your neck and chest too, to best support your lymph system! And add a little Real Salt and raw honey to your herbal compress.
*See the video on compressing in my resources tab.
Who Should Not do This
Anyone with venous or arterial constrictions; those with cardiac insufficiency.
See our full list of rituals here.