I attended icebath training in December. Ice bathing is a combination of breathing control and cold therapy.
I have done cryotherapy and cold plunges before, however, this experience, led by a Wim Hof’s trainer, was quite different. We gathered at a yoga studio in Park City, Utah on an empty stomach for a 3-hour session. Our trainer, Jeremy Wilstein talked about Wim Hof, father of the method, and ten of us attendees worked on a deep breathing technique. It involves 30 counts of diaphragm breathing followed by holding the breath for at least 30 seconds. I was able to hold my breath ranging from 30 seconds to 1 min 30 seconds in one sitting.
I’ve done the Kundalini yoga breath of fire technique on several occasions and ended up in tears. Something about deep breathing increases my consciousness and releases my emotions; hence the tears, but that didn’t happen this time. During the breathing exercise, most felt dizziness, lightheadedness, and tingling, but I didn’t have any of those sensations.
In those moments my emotional sensitivities were heightened and certain worries came to the surface. Am I good enough to dip into an ice bath?
Cold is redefined.
I’m always the first skier to get cold. I’m always the one who has on an extra layer of clothing. I didn’t expect that my beliefs about feeling cold would be shattered by ice bathing, but Jeremy taught us a dance-like movement to couple with a pressured exhale. When it was my turn, I went into the ice water up to my armpits. At first, I was breathing loudly until Jeremy told me to slow down my breathing. See the video at 0:44 “Slow the breathing” and you’ll see that I can follow instructions well. It felt like needles were going through my skin especially on my feet and rib cage. The pain became secondary to concentrating on my breath, and I then sensed a feeling of enjoyment and accomplishment. At that moment there is no past or future. There’s just now. My body melted into the ice. The greatest feeling was when I stepped out per Jeremy’s instruction after 2 minutes and into 20-degree weather but only felt bliss.
How did ICE BATHING affect my skiing?
I upgraded my mindset and my belief that I’m always the first one to get cold. Not anymore…not if I can plunge into an ice bath and sit there peacefully for over 2 minutes.
Now I know that I’m able to regulate my mind first then my body through breathwork. When I have intense feelings like feeling cold, I can focus on my breath. I fine-tune my body’s reactions when the temperature is in the 20s, 10s or even in single digits, I know what I’m capable of, and it’s as empowering as Tony Robbins’ firewalk. If I can dive into an ice bath voluntarily and get out and dance on snow for another 15 minutes, I can meet other challenges that life throws at me.
Do I recommend ice bathing?
First and foremost, I recommend that you get out of your comfort zone. That’s what we focus on in our ski retreats. Everything starts with mindset training. If you want to try ice bathing use a professional guide. Here is Jeremy’s page.
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