Ice Bath / Breathing Exposure

I believe a warm and summer like environment is the absolute best climate to surround myself with. I am convinced I am not made for winter, but somehow accept the fact that without winter there wouldnt be much summer. But still the thought of a nice summer day ideally at the ocean is still somewhat of a „perfect picture“ for me.I dont like snow and dressing up with multiple layers of clothing, and therefore I dont even like wintersports that much, on the other hand Surfboard, yes I like!
So, I am a summer dude!

Why this intro?
Basically just to somewhat point out my dislike to low temperatures / cold.

Another „cold thing“ that never got to me, cold showers. I never felt good about them or even just thinking about it. Actually no way and while one hand might turn the cold water on the other would just simultaneously turn warm on even more. Like a subconscious self protection program running on auto pilot.

Last weekend we (Mike and myself) got invited to an „Ice bath and breathing exposure“. On first thought I immediately confirmed and pretended to be happy to accept the invitation only to find myself thinking later „wtf did I get myself into… I am going to be sitting in a bath filled with ice cubes, near freezing point water, really?“.

Often enough it is the pure fact of doing something new as often as possible that gets me into these situations.

Leading up to the Ice Bath day we got told to end every shower cold – but still this was not getting any more „comfortable“ or making me actually looking forward to sit in a bath full of ice!
In the days before I actually started to go through possible scenarios once I made contact with the almost freezing water, I guess feeling a bit nervous about this would describe it pretty well.

On the day itself we met up with Ronald (who just took the Animal Flow Level 2 Workshop with us the previous weekend) and Myung, who both have completed their 1 year instrcuctor training with „The Iceman“ Wim Hof.
While having a cup of warm tea we were talked through the experience up front: preperation, the actual experience, possible reactions and not to forget the benefits for the immune system.

We continued with breathing exercises for about the next 30 minutes or so, hard to tell the actuall time here. A few cycles of breathing that all ended with a period of retention after the last exhale – and to say the least I was amazed when I heard the actual retention times that ended each breathing cycle:

Cycle 1: 20 seconds
Cycle 2: 1 min 7 seconds
Cycle 3: 1 min 35 seconds
Cycle 4: 2 min 10 seconds
Cycle 5: 2 min 24 seconds

These numbers were really surprising to me as I at no point was forcefully holding my breath. At no point in my life did I hold my breath for over 2 minutes, and this just happened in a complete state of relaxation without much effort!

After the breathing session it was time for the ice bath experience!
Mike was the first one to go in. And while I was filming his experience having the actual close up look through the camera to his reactions, this was not exactly providing much more comfort to me. This actually sounds worse then what it was like, but again its me (summer dude!) looking at someone stepping into a bath filled with freezing water and ice cubes.

At the same time the things he said when he stepped out made me really curious to now find out myself!
Next one up me:

As you can clearly see I was not able to put the experience into a propper set of words and sentences so short after stepping out of the bath.

And even now it leaves me thinking about so many different facets of this experience that it is is hard for me to pay justice to this experience in words… your body goes into shock mode (or at least wants to), through controlling your breath and focus you keep conscious overhand over your body’s instinctual subconscious reflexes, its ice cold, its hot, its both, you dont know anymore, at some point its awesome for a short moment, and so much more.
I really need to do this again. Not only for the temporary feelings and reactions but also to explore the well documented health- benefits.

A huge thank you to Ronald and Myung who gave us an incredible mini workshop on breathing and the ice bath experience!
Ronald is doing workshops of this kind on a regular base in the Rotterdam / Amsterdam area. So if you are interested to find out more visit this link, highly recommended!

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