In a culture that goes to the extreme in order to avoid any form of physical or psychological discomfort, the idea of “snow bathing” may seem like absolute insanity. But for some kindergartens in Siberia, Russia, it’s a daily practice. Dressed only in their underwear, the children troop outside in weather as low as -30ºC to rub snow onto their skin and dump icy buckets of water over their heads.
As it turns out, this seemingly unusual ritual is nothing new. Cold water therapy has a long history of use in Zen monasteries, remote Buddhist enclaves throughout the Himalayas, Kundalini Yoga practitioners, Japanese Shinto Monks, Native Americans and the ancient Greeks. Exposing yourself to icy water not only helps boost the immune system, slim the body and improve cardiovascular health, it’s also considered a spiritual practice across many traditions.
“What six months of these water exercises showed was an immediately stronger resistance to illnesses. Our kids were now able to go to the kindergarten and even if someone had infection, they were no longer catching it.” ~ Olesya Osintseva, kindergarten director in Barnaul, southern Siberia