Today I had the continuous pleasure to take part of another discovery of mine that I have read about for a while and also in some ways experienced since I was a kid and brought up in a northern country – cold.
As a kid, I loved the sauna and it became one of my favorite ways to relax, copy what my dad liked and also have some fun. I used to always go to the sauna, as it is kind of a big deal in Estonia, and if it was winter time I’d jump to the snow after the heat exposure or jump to cold water. Anyway, it was always a fun and enjoyable experience, made my skin tingle and it felt just great to run outside half naked when it was -15 degrees and snowy.
I still do it, and I still love it. I never considered much about the scientific researches on cold exposure nor did I really care much about the health benefits – I knew it was good cos it made me feel good.
I read about this WimHof guys last year in 2017 and all the crazy records he has hit, most of all how it all contributed beneficially to his health, which really made an impact on my time I spent reading and watching videos about him. The method was simple – breathing, physical exercise and cold exposure to the body = concentration, happy and healthy you.
Today I did the 4 h workshop with N.ICE Collective in London. I was really blown away by the breathing impact as I have practiced this method before but never did I have such powerful impact. With the deep, strong and rhythmic inhales and relaxed releasing exhales my whole body was tingling and buzzing, I lost the sense in my hands and the retention of breath really calmed everything down deep within. We did the WimHof breathing technique around 6-7 rounds non-stop and by the time we stopped my whole body felt alive, heavy and sensitive. My head was buzzing and I giggled non-stop for a while without a reason – that was fun.
All in all the breathing method is a great tool to use at home but so much more powerful with a group of people (same as yoga). The second half we looked further into the aspects of cold and its impact on our body/mind. There are certainly a lot of things to consider and understand how such a strange and in a way inhuman experience can be beneficial, but it has always made me feel good after – whether it is cold showers or ice dips after sauna.
The culmination of the workshop was a preparation for the ice-bath and full concentration. We once again ran through the breathing exercise, pushups and off we went outside where 10kg ice in a tub was waiting for us. The 2 minutes we stayed in the bath was slightly long but once you kept your mind calm and did your breathing, you were fine. I was surprised at how concentrated I kept my mind, and how easy it made the whole thing. My hands and feet were tingling my chest was slightly freezing but my mind was calm and I felt good. I did think about poor Jack in Titanic, which didn’t make things better. The most difficult part for me was to gradually keep your body in the movement and allow heat back after coming out of the bath, as you had to keep the concentration and breath calm for quite a long time.
In conclusion, it created an overflow of endorphins and the group was very giggly talkative and smiling after everyone finished their 2 minutes in the bath. I will keep going and will keep cold showering, maybe even outdoor swimming might be in order next weekend.
I really strongly recommend to try and expose yourself to cold, (obviously, do your own doctor and health checks, research etc. and most of all listen to your body before during and after it all). For me it’s like a good antibiotic, that will allow our body to function naturally the way it was made to function in such a simple and fun way.