Cold Exposure Secrets | Building Mental Toughness and Resilience
Breathe and Flow Newsletter | Issue 007
Hello Wolfpack and welcome to another day on Planet Earth!
We are definitely feeling the full power of the sun here is Las Vegas right now so taking a cold shower or ice bath already feels pretty great. The weather dropped quite a bit the past couple weeks and now it’s a mild 100F/38C 😜☀️ You may be reading this in a hot, humid climate or maybe you’re somewhere surrounded by snow and ice. One thing’s for sure though - we love to have ALL the modern conveniences and the wardrobe to keep us feeling comfortable. In fact, we’re all so ‘comfortable’ with clothes that heating and AC can get the body out of balance. Today, we delve into how to redress this imbalance and build a strong, healthy body, and mind, through the power of the ice.
“Cold is a stressor, so if you are able to get into the cold and control your body's response to it, you will be able to control stress.”
Before we dive in too deep (see what we did there 😊), we wanted to quickly highlight that we now have FOUR openings for our upcoming Yoga Teacher Training in Peru. Our YTT is not only about receiving a certification to teach yoga. It offers a transformative journey through the yogic path that leads to personal evolution as you open yourself up to new possibilities; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Whether your goal is to inspire wellness through your love of teaching yoga or to simply uncover new depths in your own personal practice, this 200-hour teacher training will support you on this journey. Head to the WeTravel event page and book your spot on the mat. Yes, we will be doing polar plunges at the training! Now back to more news about the cold…💙❄
Since 2017, to counteract this cozy bubble of modern life, we have been exploring the benefits of cold exposure as a way for us to explore a mentally challenging space, to push our comfort zone, to develop a strong mindset, and to build our immunity. Another awesome effect we experience is an overall euphoric feeling of being alive with extra vibrancy, freshness, revitalization, and strengthened connection to the natural world! 🍁 🌎
Inducing stress in a controlled way through cold exposure is a tool to build resilience. In fact, if the body is never exposed to cold or hot weather, it may become less efficient at thermoregulation (the ability of the body to keep its temperature within a healthy range, even when the outside temperature changes). This can lead to problems such as hypothermia (low body temperature) in cold weather and heatstroke (high body temperature) in hot weather.
Research shows that cold exposure, such as swimming in cold water, being outside in a cold environment or taking cold showers, can have a remarkable impact on our physical and mental well-being. When we subject our bodies to cold stimuli, we activate various physiological responses that enhance our resilience, boost our immune system, and cultivate a deeper mind-body connection. We can experience increased energy, boosted athletic ability, improved circulation, and enhanced mental clarity. Cold exposure stimulates the production of endorphins and activates our body's natural healing mechanisms, leading to a greater sense of vitality and well-being. ✨
Our body needs balance and instead of fighting the cold we need to make it our friend. Yes, we know this sounds weird, but it is in fact a powerful teacher that can help us grow so much more, physically and mentally, towards health and wholeness. The physiological effects and benefits of the cold on the body and mind are quite astonishing. For most of history, humans have been trying to get away from the cold, not into it. But what our ancestors didn’t know is that the cold is one of our most powerful allies when it comes to building a healthy body. Nowadays, millions of people worldwide partake in ice swimming, cold plunging, and cold showers to remind themselves what it feels to be alive. Folks in the Nordic country even take casual morning dips in the icy lakes and they call it winter bathing - they’re onto something
Inspired by the teachings of Wim Hof, known as "The Iceman," we have incorporated cold exposure into our own practice over the last few years. After doing a workshop with our good friend, Miles Lukas, and later on with Wim himself, we knew this was something we would do for the rest of our lives. We have personally experienced the transformative power of embracing the cold and tapping into our innate capacity to adapt and thrive. See how we got on in Chicago during a family trip in the snow here!
If you're curious to explore cold exposure further, we encourage you to learn more from Wim Hof's website and his various resources, including his books, videos, and online courses. Wim Hof has dedicated his life to unlocking the potential of the human body and mind through cold exposure and breathing techniques and is a pretty awesome dude in anyone’s book.
We’ve also enjoyed delving into the research by Dr. Susanna Søberg. In the numerous podcasts and videos which feature her incredible work, she goes into the deep scientific stuff behind other benefits of cold exposure on our physical body, including how it helps increase our ‘brown fat,’ which is a good type of fat (also known as brown adipose tissue or BAT) that produces heat. Brown fat is activated by cold exposure and helps to keep the body warm. We can increase our levels of brown fat in several ways including cold exposure, exercise and even having a regular cup of coffee!
We invite you to embark on your own cold exposure journey, but remember to approach it mindfully and with proper guidance. Here are a few safety considerations to keep in mind:
❄️ Start slowly and gradually increase the exposure duration as your body adjusts to the cold, building tolerance over time. You can even just begin by turning off the central heating, by walking outside in colder temperatures or by wearing less layers! When getting into cold water, try using the HANDS-FACE-HEART system: getting your hands wet first, then splashing your face, neck and heart area to get your body ready to be slowly submerged.
❄️ Don’t brace against the cold, instead welcome and accept it peacefully as your friend and healer. You can whoop and even squeal, but try not to get out - your body will get used to it! You can use Wim Hof’s breathing techniques or this Tummo Technique before going in to help calm your body and mind. When you first submerge, we recommend beginning with Ujjayi breath for the first minute and then slowly relaxing the breath until you enter into a silent natural nose-breathing rhythm.
❄️ Warm up afterwards After exposure to cold, it's important to warm up slowly. Don't jump into a hot shower or put on warm clothes right away. Gradually warm up over the course of several minutes. We can also recommend hugging your buddies to warm up together! (P.S It’s always good practice to take a buddy with you if you’re practicing cold exposure, especially if you’re doing it outside somewhere remote).
❄️ Pay attention to your body Cold exposure should not be painful or cause discomfort beyond your limits. Always prioritize your well-being and listen to your body's needs and limitations.
❄️ Wear loose fitting clothing This helps to keep the body warm by allowing for better circulation, insulation, and freedom of movement. So, take a few layers including a cozy dry robe or jumper which isn’t skin tight with you to put on afterwards, especially if you’re going into cold water or weather outside.
❄️ Seek professional guidance If you have any underlying health conditions or concerns, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional before practicing cold exposure techniques.
There are lots of ways to prep like a boss for your ice baths or cold water swims (including taking a pee beforehand and how to time the cold dip). We created this little ‘how to’ video based on our own experiences for you check out. We explain the various ways to do cold exposure but if you’re interested in a little discount on a Cold Plunge ice bath, then use this link and our code “BREATHEANDFLOW.”
With cold exposure in combination with everything that a yoga lifestyle has to offer, you can build a powerful and strong body and mind and truly be the best, happiest, and healthiest version of yourself. 😊 As always, we are here to support you on your path of exploration and self-discovery.
If you would like to share your experiences or questions about cold exposure, join the conversation with our Discord community here along with other members of the Breathe and Flow Wolfpack. 🐺
Let us continue to push the boundaries of what we thought possible and embrace the transformative power that lies within us!
❄️ Enjoy your cold shower today…go on, turn it from warm to cold and feel the rush of energy…🔥
With a super cool fist bump and a warm hug,
Morning Coffee Positive Press
Hey there, chilly swimmers and icy dippers 🌊❄️. Here's some more cool news for you…researchers from the Arctic University of Norway have been diving deep into the benefits of cold water swimming, and they've found some exciting stuff.