I do like a challenge … unless it is irresponsible, of course. But 2 minutes in the ice bath was something I wanted to do right away. You hear more and more about it and many people know it as the Wim Hof method. The Iceman, as he is also called, did give the ice bath a good name. Partly because of him, research has been done on its benefits. In fact, many benefits to the body and your mind have been found from going into the ice bath for 2 minutes.
So when that challenge to enter the ice bath for 2 minutes came along in the form of Maarten Smelt giving a workshop, I couldn’t resist. It was also held in my neighbourhood. Also boosting your immune system in the meantime is of course a great bonus.
There are many benefits to 2 minutes in the ice bath but also cold showering. You hear it more and more often that people do this daily or at least regularly. Lately, I also see it more often on hikes that people take a dip in a natural water during a walk. This seems like something I would do too! And um, cold shower off I do very occasionally too…..
But I will first take you through the experience I had when I went into the ice bath for 2 minutes. Then after that, I’ll list the benefits for you…. Maybe then you too will take that step into the ice bath?
2 minutes into the icebath – Safe and Healthy Travel
Stepping into the ice bath….
And then you take that step, the step into the ice bath. After exhaling, I stepped in and so slowly inhaling, I lowered my body into the water. Not too slowly… I wanted to be through that as quickly as possible. Then it’s just cold in 1 x and you can think less about it? As I sat, I could already feel my breath starting to falter slightly. I was ready to exhale and I did so through my mouth so that I lost a little more strength from the forces I felt rising in my body. My mouth, lips and jaw were tightening and this allowed the force/energy to leave that was being released. I felt the cold coming around my body and slowly I inhaled again through my nose. This time the inhalation didn’t quite go the way it normally would. Breathing in a little too fast, I again felt that it was not quite smooth. When I focused my attention on that, it went better and I was partly forgetting about the stress in my body. Very slowly and controlled, I breathed out. I felt my body tingling. Tingling from the cold, tingling to focus on survival.
Before this, I had learnt that my circulatory system would also adapt. Warm blood would start gathering around my intestines. Around that, the outer body, as well as arms and legs are initially less important. You feel so many emotions, tingles and forces going through your body that you can’t even focus on them properly.
That first step is often the hardest – step into the icebath
I went back to my breathing. It was cold, it was going to get even colder, and I started focusing all my attention on my breathing. Being in the here and now and feeling if I could regain my control there. I felt considerable tension in my back and neck, shoulder and throat. I could slowly relax that while exhaling. Every time I emptied my lungs I could focus on my feelings in my body. First feeling well and realising what I was feeling before slowly filling my lungs with oxygen again.
I felt my arms and legs tingling… when I felt my shins, ankles and feet, they were no longer tingling but seemed more like needles stabbing deep into my body. Yet it was not painful but surprisingly alive. Realising that this was my body at work and it was definitely not needles I thought I was feeling is really separate.
It also occurred to me that if you want to actually feel your body during a meditation, you just don’t perceive a lot of pieces of your body. Not being able to actually feel, no matter how hard you try. We have huge blind spots in our bodies that we are totally out of touch with.
Now I felt everything! I felt every millimetre of my body. I tried to focus on that, along with my breathing.
Breathing is the basis voor success – Pranayama (Yoga)
It wasn’t long before I was already halfway through. I heard Martin say this to me.
I realised afterwards that I did not hear the half-minute and minute that was supposed to be indicated by a fellow student. Only when he said 1.5 minutes did I hear him. I did worry very briefly between the minute and 1.5 minutes whether the stopwatch was turned on.
When I was halfway through, I could breathe reasonably well. I could keep feeling my body and if I didn’t try too hard on breathing, I was doing well. When I tried to breathe in too deeply, I briefly lost balance. My body moved along for a moment, I felt a small jolt as if it wanted to flee or shiver…. What exactly happened I don’t know but I recovered during my exhale by relaxing. My back/neck were very tense and on the long exhalation I was able to relax them.
I felt my whole body, everything was on and I was alone in the world
The outside world did not exist for a while, I no longer perceived anything about who or what was happening around me. I only had to focus on my body, on my breathing and on what was happening inside me.
When I heard it was 2 minutes, I had to regain my focus. From small inside I had to go back to big outside so to speak. Slowly I stood up from the ice bath.
Slowly I stepped out of the water..
I DID IT!
My lower legs and feet in particular were very cold. By running around the place for a while, I brought the blood circulation back up a bit. I slowly felt that everything was back on track in my body. I was given a nice cup of ginger tea…. There I was, standing outside in my bikini at about 1 or 2 degrees….
I wasn’t cold, I looked around .
Felt some kind of strange victory. How cool!
When I changed inside, an ice cube just fell out of my bikini top. I hadn’t even felt that one! And when I looked at my body, I saw that I was very red. My body was sending blood to the surface of my body again. I did start shivering then, my body was cold while I did not recognise that feeling myself, I did not feel cold. I did feel that parts of my body felt cold and some warm. There was a weird, strange dichotomy going on in my body.
That was the blood now redistributing to all parts of my body again. Martin had talked about this. Everything had gone to my intestines and now everything was going through my whole body again. How strange that you can observe this. That in this way you can actually very easily get in touch with your whole body again, feel everything for a moment.
2 minutes into the icebath, a super meaningful trip
Preparing for 2 minutes in the ice bath
Before taking that step into the ice bath, we naturally covered the theory on this. This comes by in the benefits of stepping into an ice bath described below. We also did some meditation techniques (body scan) and breathing techniques. In this way you get more in touch with your body and feel what happens to you when you breathe too fast and then hold your breath. You feel a kind of rush going through your body but you only have to witness it. Feel what is happening, trust that it is good and just experience.
The basis of surviving 2 minutes in the ice bath is really your breathing. I describe this bit of preparation briefly but is an indispensable part of 2 minutes in the ice bath. If you don’t have your breathing under control then it’s not going to work. Then you cannot relax and your brain is not going to overcome this but your body will start fighting and you will inevitably give in to that.
I am a firm believer in the Mind over Matter principle. You can do much more than you think! Know that everything you give attention to grows. So will you then give your body attention or will you keep control of your attention and focus it on your breathing?
Benefits to the ice bath
There really are super many benefits to an ice bath. From mental benefits to physical benefits. From inside your smallest cells to the outside of your body…. And I don’t think all the benefits are completely clear yet. Read more about his passion and theory on Wim Hof’s website.
Boosting your immune system in the ice bath
You strengthen your immune system
Why is it that going into the ice bath boosts your immune system? It strengthens your circulatory system and promotes blood flow. With increased blood flow, your lymphatic system is stimulated, which results in a lot more waste being discharged. This can only be a good thing. By contracting your blood vessels (when you enter the ice bath) and expanding them again (when you leave the ice bath again), you train the blood vessels. In this way, your vascular system of heart and blood vessels improves.
But did you know that this exposure to cold promotes the production of glutathione? This is an antioxidant. Glutathione allows all the other antioxidants (vitamins, minerals) to perform optimally, making it the most important substance in the body that works to neutralise toxins that we are constantly exposed to. Having enough glutathione in your blood prevents you from getting sick, makes for a smoother recovery should it occur and ensures your body holds up better during stress.
Mentally, you become stronger
You are stepping out of your comfort zone. Everything in your brain but also body tells you that you don’t want this and maybe you can’t do it. Yet you take that step and experience that you can do it. That victory feeling alone is gold. Noticing that your own brain sometimes lies to you a bit to keep you in your comfort zone is a super good lesson. Realising that you can do more than you thought!
This way you become more resilient, you know you can handle more than you thought.
2 minutes into the icebath – ijssmelt.nl
De-acidify your body and inhibit inflammation
Proper breathing de-acidifies your body. The specific breathing Wim Hof developed ensures a better balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide and optimal acidity in your body. You bring yourself into optimal condition. This breathing is aimed at overwhelming your body with oxygen so that your body starts giving a stress response. This can come in many forms, feeling of hyperventilation, adrenaline rush and maybe a sense of hallucination. And the Wim Hof method then says, stop breathing, stop supplying oxygen. Maybe stop for up to 2 minutes. Your body is totally turned on and forced to stand still. Feel what your body is doing, it is in supreme state, ready to make that huge sprint and you hit the brakes.
Everything is rushing through your body and all you have to do is feel it. There is more than enough oxygen in your body and you can sit this out for at least 2 minutes.
The exchange of substances is going on, the balance is made from stress to rest. We don’t pay enough attention to this. We no longer learn how to deal with stress, properly wind down and then move on. Perhaps especially in my profession, police officer, more attention should be paid to this.
One moment I might be resuscitating someone while on the way back to the station someone addresses me with what seems to me to be a petty problem at the time. I then have to shift gears and be of service. I succeed, of course, but in the meantime, have I properly disposed of the stress or do I forget that and go back to the issues of the day? Because the next report is already assigned to me and a little later I am recording a report of something and I get caught up in the declarant’s emotions.
Improves blood circulation
As I described during my experience is that you feel more of your body. Also when I looked at my body afterwards I saw that I turned red, the surface of my body was well saturated with blood to warm me up again. Also during the bath, the blood was fed to the most important parts of my body. After this bath and the stress of constricting and re-expanding the blood vessels, the blood circulation will return to its resting state but into an improved balance.
You train your nervous system
You train your nervous system to be healthy and flexible. To properly wind down to a resting state again when you have experienced stress. Not only mentally but also physically. You will again be able to cope better with the stress that our lives give us all to cope with.
Too many people live with chronic stress without perhaps realising it themselves. Your body suffers and shows this through the restlessness you feel, the short fuse you have, dizziness, poor sleep, poor concentration but also spastic bowels, etc.
I also wrote about this balance in your body before. Because when you do a handstand these kinds of benefits occur in your body.
Where do you stand in life?
Are you also mindful of your body and mind?
Have you ever done this?
If so, what have you been able to take away from this experience?
Do you share these inspirations or
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