Curiosity in relation to cold water therapy, wild saunas and breathwork has been growing recently. And we thought what better way thing could we do then than to introduce you to the concepts and core benefits, and see if there what possible, positive changes that could be applied in our lives too.
So, what exactly is cold water therapy, so-called wild saunas and breathwork? And why bother doing them at all?
Why explore cold water therapy or sea swimming?
Cold water therapy and wild saunas start off for many as a curious itch that needs scratching, especially after perhaps seeing people they know reap the rewards of regularly making time for it.
Researched by many – the findings have all been pretty much the same: any type of cold water therapy gives your body what it needs to fight off as much adversity as it can. Much of which is duplicated by regular sauna-going. These benefits include:
It isn't just about the water or heat itself
All the above benefits of cold water therapy are valid, whether you choose to sit in a cold bath, let the stress wash away in a cold shower, sit in a cold water barrel in your garden, or dive into the nearest cold water lake near you.
There is, however, a certain 'next level' feeling about getting out into the wild and being at one with nature. Nothing compares to the emotions triggered from embracing it all as one unique and cleansing experience when you are surrounded by this beautifully wild world that we quite frankly don't participate in enough.
We have found that more and more realise that meditation can also happen when you are wrapped in the brisk temperatures of naturally cold waters or heat, or engaging in simple breathing exercises, almost enforcing a state of meditation with little struggle.
Mobile saunas in the wild
The real benefits of those sweaty, and sometimes smelly, gym saunas is real. You sit in one, and they feel great for your post-gym warm-down. One thing, however, is missing. Nature and a decent wood-burning fire in a sauna you can regulate yourself.
And sauna culture itself is not a new thing in Ireland, far from it. They have been used for hundreds of years up until the 1900s to treat ailments, generate well-being and at least in some cases, as a ritual of some sort. And they were called Sweathouses.
In these a naked person would crawl in and sweat in the stiflingly small space for as long as they could endure. And eventually, they would crawl back out and find the nearest cold stream for that relief they needed to cool back down. Or at least that is one of the rituals based on descriptions from the time. Little records remain from that time.
Luckily, you don’t need to crawl in and out today but the benefits as below still prevail:
Any type of cold water therapy stands to wake you from any kind of slumber-like sensations you have going in. And any pain or fatigue you could be feeling will certainly shift the moment you step into the cold.
The body's natural response to this is to take you into deeper breathing, which aims to induce a type of higher state of alert. This decreases the level of CO2 in the body, helping you concentrate on the moment.
Many people find it useful to learn how to breathe effectively when entering cold water, because it helps the body maintain a natural rhythm.
The secret to breathing in a way that will help you through any cold water therapy is to remember to breathe deeply. Most people only use the top of their lungs when they inhale, which leads to shallow breaths. You do need to be careful if you get dizzy while deep-breathing though as the combination of water and dizziness can be dangerous.
Remember not to tense the rest of your body if you can as you breathe, as the experience is all about relaxing and giving yourself to the elements.
Breathing correctly has so many benefits that include:
Scientists are still learning about the advantages of cold water breathwork, but nothing they have discovered yet is in any way detrimental to one's body and mind.
A safe space for being yourself
The busier our lives become, the less time we have for ourselves. Once upon a time, for instance, we lived without having a phone as an extra limb and now, a growing number of us would be lost without one attached to our hands.
They tell us the time, they tell us how many steps we have done, they allow us to communicate with anyone all over the world at the touch of a button. And for everyone else to communicate with us…..
At the very least what we can do is start seeing cold water therapy and wild saunas as a digital detox – a non-digital safe space to retreat to. A reminder to us that we have working brains that need healing and nurturing so that we can live long and healthy lives where we can grasp even small windows for introspection and rest.
There are so many ways to get started, but in truth, it is as simple as submerging yourself in the cold, and appreciating that the discomfort is in fact that first catalyst for change. Or you can cheat just a little, and submerge yourself in the heat instead. And start there.
Thanks for reading. Any questions or ideas for articles please feel free to ping us and we will consider it!