Fancy a cold water dip? Maybe? Maybe not? Chances are though, you’ve heard of Wim Hof and whether you’re familiar with his method or not I bet you’re curious. When I was invited along to Seaham Hall for a Wim Hof Cold Water Therapy evening, I had to say yes.
I went along with my sister Lucy, thinking it would be good for recovery post her GNR efforts. Lucy’s cold water experience trumps mine as she’s dipped in the Lake District. I’ve stood in a plunge pool very briefly and barely got past my shins. Or there’s the odd time the shower runs cold, but then I’ve always hopped out!
Seaham Hall’s Serenity Spa is my favourite local spa, always giving a warm welcome and host to award winning facilities. I’ve visited before for the twilight spa experience and had an overnight stay at Seaham Hall earlier this year. Upon arrival we received cranberry iced tea and some forms to complete asking about our general health and any conditions to be aware of.
We then went to the studio where our workshop would take place. Here we met Hayley Dorian, a certified Wim Hof instructor and a keen cold water enthusiast. Hayley is the founder of Wild Sea Women and wellness business XHAYLE. Get it? Exhale… her name’s Hayley? Well I appreciated it.
Hayley took us through breathing techniques and explained some of the science behind the Wim Hof Method. It was incredibly interesting.
What is the Wim Hof Method?
Devised by Wim Hof, a dutch cold water enthusiast – also dubbed the Iceman, his method contains three pillars. Breathing. Cold exposure. Commitment. Put these three elements of the Wim Hof Method together and unlock numerous benefits to improve your health. Some of these benefits include increased energy, better sleep, strengthened immune system and reduced stress.
Here’s something you can try to get a sense of the breathwork.
Find somewhere quiet where you won’t be interrupted and can focus. Sit comfortably, this may be with your legs crossed resting your hands on your knees or with your legs out straight in front of you. Or maybe you’re more comfortable lay down. Close your eyes and tune in to your breath. Is it fast and shallow, or slower? Acknowledge this first and perhaps what’s going on in your life that could be causing you stress or unrest. Now, clear your mind and focus on your breath.
Inhale deeply through your nose and sharply out your month. Repeat this 30 times, trying to exhale that full breath as quickly as you can.
Inhale deeply once more, then exhale and hold your breath out. Breath retention as Hayley explained may seem daunting at first and sure, when we first held our breath before starting these deep breathing rounds, I managed maybe 15/20 seconds. But by the end of our deep breathing I held my breath for 2 minutes with no immediate urge to inhale during that.
Find out more on Wim Hof’s website, or you could book on to one of the workshops at Seaham Hall and be guided through it by Hayley.
The Ozone Restaurant
Before our evening plunge we headed to the Ozone Restaurant for some plant based sharing platters, just a light meal before we would change into our swimwear and head into the spa. On the menu were tofu bao buns, summer rolls, spring rolls and tofu and pepper skewers.
Cold water dip
Once we’d enjoyed our platters and shared some nervous thoughts about what came next, we headed to the spa changing rooms. I changed into my swimsuit and joined the rest of our group to complete our evening with our cold dip in the plunge pools. Lucy and I decided to go second, as we didn’t want to wait – well, I didn’t want to be waiting around and end up talking myself out of it!
I stepped into the plunge pool and acknowledged the cool water around my feet but kept walking down the steps. At waist deep I noticed the cold and how quickly I was breathing. I looked at Lucy who looked back encouraging me. Hayley kept telling me “you have the control, deep exhales”. I paused for a moment to catch my breathe and focus on longer exhales and slowly made my way further into the water getting to shoulder depth. Lucy sat at the end of the plunge pool looking incredibly composed. We completed the two minutes, then slowly made our way out of the cold water.
My body tingled and I felt this energy running through me. A sense of calm too. The same calm feeling I had at the end of the breathing rounds. Once everyone completed their cold water dip then we had some time to use the rest of the spa facilities. We went straight outside to the hot tubs – it’s all about balance, right?
Attending a workshop
There are cold water workshops taking place on 9 Oct and 11 Dec. I’d highly recommend booking on to one of them and fully embracing the breathing techniques. There’s so many benefits to cold water exposure as I mentioned earlier in this post. I had such a good sleep that night and I’d like to give it a go again in the future – might have to take Lucy along for encouragement though!
Thanks Hayley and Seaham Hall for a great evening.
I was invited along to Seaham Hall for this experience.