I’ve studied many different areas and use breathing practices on a daily basis. I’m a trained XPT Performance Breathing Coach, an Oxygen Advantage Instructor, a qualified Ice Bath Coach and have completed a variety of other well researched practices including Wim-Hof, DMT, transformational and other more traditional yoga / pranayama breathing techniques.
I am also an Apnea International qualified Breath-hold for Survival instructor and teach adults and kids techniques for holding their breath and relaxing for longer in high stress situations, particularly surf and the ocean and for generally building confidence in the water.an Oxygen Advantage coach
Significantly, certain types of breathwork practices help us to not only simply relax, build resilience and create more clarity and focus, but they enable us to enter a meditative state that enables us to access the sub-conscious mind and help release unconscious negative thoughts and built-up trauma while also embedding positive thoughts to start ‘rewiring’ new neuro-pathways.
Meditation enables us to do this too, and forms a significant part of the framework of ‘tools’ we encourage, but it does take significant time and practice to become good at. Breathwork is more immediate and can alter your mindset and physical state within minutes.
Part of breathwork is to understand the mind-body connection and how our bio-chemistry can alter in an instant and how we can very quickly push ourselves past what we thought possible with a change in mindset and attitude.
We use various breathing practices in our coaching and mindset programs, but we also teach these techniques separately, which will equip you with a number of short and long-term exercises that can help reduce stress and anxiety and form daily practices for more mindful ways of breathing and the associated health benefits.
Breathwork practices are linked to:
Other health benefits of breathwork include:
Breathwork also has a positive impact on your central nervous system. When you feel stressed, your breath tends to become fast and shallow.
This limits the oxygen entering your bloodstream. Your brain tells your body that there is a threat, and your body responds in fight or flight.
When you take time to slow down and purposefully breathe deeply and slowly, you tell your brain that everything is OK.
Your brain communicates to your body that it’s safe to relax. The fight or flight response decreases, and your body can begin to function normally again.
Evidence shows that deep breathing is effective in that it is your conscious way of communicating with your body’s unconscious responses to anxiety and stress.
Physical health benefits of breathwork include:
Emotional benefits may include:
Although it’s collectively viewed negatively, stress is not inherently bad. In fact, stress not only has the potential to be good, it is absolutely necessary to get better in any domain of life.
Cold Water Immersion (immersed in water of below 15oC up to the neck) or any form of cold exposure, introduces a good stress, hormetic stress, to the body. This helps your body to better adapt to bad stress, or ‘distress’ (caused by inadequate sleep, emotional stress, chronic disease, work issues, traffic etc.). There is also a big cascade of hormone, immune, and neurotransmitter effects that can have a positive impact on the body over time.
Proponents such as Wim Hof, also known as ‘The Iceman’, became famous for the skill he has developed in handling extreme cold and the array of benefits this has created in his autonomic nervous system and immune system.
Simply turning the shower to cold for as little as 90 seconds (build up from 15 seconds gradually) can have immediate benefits.
Many of our clients now only have cold showers as a matter of course. Ice Baths are a more ‘intense’ practice but provide considerable benefits; not least of all the mental tenacity to withstand the cold which combined with breathwork can be remarkable. By example, students on our Mindset Bootcamp start at around 2-4 minutes on day 1 and most surpass 8 minutes on day 4 with many lasting 15 minutes in 6oC water!
I am an accredited ice bath coach, and while a very safe practice, we always consider client’s safety paramount and run our sessions accordingly.
Potential benefits of alleviating the symptoms of depression and anxiety, although this is still being established in research.
Anecdotal evidence has suggested that cold showers can help to alleviate depression. The proposed mechanism for this is that cold exposure leads to a release of norepinephrine into the bloodstream. Norepinephrine is a hormone and neurotransmitter that is involved in focus, attention, and mood — low norepinephrine can lead to ADHD and depression.
Cold water immersion can trigger a floodgate of mood-enhancing chemicals in the brain by awaking a natural ‘fight-or-flight’ response.
This response to ‘environmental stress’ conditions our brain to cope better with the stressors of everyday life and helps decrease the production of inflammatory cytokines which are linked to anxiety and depression.
By exposing your body to colder temperatures, you’re able to build up a higher tolerance to stress.
With an exposure to physiological stressors, the ice bath method challenges your body to function beyond its comfort zone, hence its direct effect on immune function.
Not only that, but the body sets off a response to the nervous system affecting oxygen intake, which helps deliver an increase in energy.
With an exposure to physiological stressors, the ice bath method challenges your body to function beyond its comfort zone, hence its direct effect on immune function. Not only that, but the body sets off a response to the nervous system affecting oxygen intake, which helps deliver an increase in energy.
Cold water immersions have been shown to trigger ‘recruiting’ which means your body can take white fat cells and turn them into brown fat cells.
Unlike the tissue in white fat cells, the tissue in brown fat cells converts energy into heat. It’s a process called thermogenesis, and it’s been shown to help with metabolic function, blood glucose levels, and the prevention of weight gain.
Doing ice baths over time may help your body transform from the inside-out, with more of fat cells that burn energy to generate heat and less fat cells that store energy to be released as a back-up in case your body needs it. Just imagine your body helping you maintain weight for a change instead of working against you!
Rest habits are triggered and regulated by the brain and the nervous system and ice bath therapy has been shown to have a direct effect on both. After the initial cold water temperature shock, your body is able to calm down and becomes more resilient to changes in our environment. This translates into you building up a higher tolerance to stress by regulating your cortisol levels helping improve the symptoms of depression and reducing the instance of sleep-related disorders.
Please note: We acknowledge there are many scientific studies supporting the health benefits of breathwork and cold exposure. We have provided a few easy to read links below but are not affiliated to any author or organisation.
Cold Water Exposure
Susanna Soberg Study – 11 minutes cold water exposure per week.
Benefits of Cold Water Immersion
Benefits of cold water immersion (CWI)