I bloody hate being cold, I play heating wars in the winter and I am the mother that goes on about drying their hair before they catch a chill. Well I was until I discovered “Wim Hof”.
I have been taking cold showers everyday, holding my breath for ridiculous amounts of time and the occasion outdoor swim or ice bath over the last 3 months. MENTAL, your saying, I can hear you. But before you write me off for a crazy midlife let me tell you some of the benefits so far.
• Reduction in inflammatory pain around my knees caused by years of running
• Reduced stress and anxiety, which was getting a bit out of control over lockdown
• A noticeable improvement in hormonal emotions and balance
• Increased focus and brain power that had slowly turned to mush since the beginning of lockdown
• A daily buzz of energy that makes me glad to be alive
• Higher levels of physical fitness without a whole lot of extra effort
• An overall calmness with increased confidence (hence starting a blog that I have been meaning to for years
The reason I’ve called this blog, “When a duck swims by and high fives you” is because it was one of the high points of this journey so far. We took the kids up to my home stomping ground in the lakes. It’s a great little walk around Rydal water and I get in the lake on the way back, with no flinching about the cold, I just got in and embraced the whole experience, the nature around me and the buzz from the cold was out of this world. After laughing at my families faces, including the dog, at my absolute craziness, I swam around taking in the scenery, a duck swam right in-front of me, he looked me in the eye and I am sure if he could of high-fived me, he absolutely would.
I think the last time I got in cold water like this and enjoyed it I was about 12. To say I am hooked is an understatement. I have now built in breathing and cold exposure into my daily routine and I grab experiences like this when I can.
Where did I start?
I started with some deep breaths in and out and then holding my breath after 30. I could hold for about 45 seconds.
I turned the shower to cold for 15 seconds
I set my starting point of press-ups at 13
This quickly improved through practice and challenging myself everyday. Most mornings I have my shower and I look at the temperature and think, “no, I can’t do it, I can’t be doing with the cold”, but every morning I force myself to do it and I can honestly say I buzz every time. It really is empowering your body as well as your mind.
The science around the Wim Hof technique is absolutely fascinating and I am learning and understanding more everyday. There has been so much research and understanding of the method that gives me the confidence that it’s a good thing to do. There is a lot of science to it and quite frankly it blows my mind. There are lots of books and videos out there, but I have put together a one pager that explains it as simply as it can be. If you are interested in receiving please click HERE.
I’m only telling you this so you can see the improvement, its not a competition, everyone is different, some can do over 5 minutes and some stick with 1 minute, all are fine.
I am now holding my breath longer on the breathing. My record breath hold is about 2 minute 40 seconds
I have a cold shower everyday for at least 3 minutes and love it. Sometimes a bath or I jump in the paddling pool. Outside is way better. If you get into this you will get why.
Finally, my pushups are now at 36 whilst holding my breath and I can do over a minute with my head stand.
I have been practicing meditation for a couple of years now and have always struggled with keeping it a regular thing and although I feel huge benefits from meditation, I find this practices enhances and makes my meditation practice easier. I am still learning lots about this and find the whole thing fascinating. Through the breathing and holding your breath you really can take your meditation to the next level.