Chill Out! Finding Your Peak Flow During Ice Immersion

Dr Rob Williams has co-created the Peak Flow Method, which supports individuals, teams, organisations, and healthcare systems by developing new breathing habits that are scientifically proven to lead to healthier humans, enhanced performance and increased mental wellness and physical fitness.

Rob is an Ice Immersion lover, COO and Co-Founder of Peak Flow, a certified Level 2 Wim Hof Method instructor, Buteyko Institute breath coach, Oxygen Advantage (OA) instructor, and fan of Nordic Wave cold plunges.

Rob’s top tips for finding your peak flow…

Imagine yourself stepping into a cold shower, a chilly lake, or an ice-encrusted barrel full of near-freezing water. Notice how simply imagining this experience influences your mental and physical state – slightly elevated anxiety, heart rate, or nervousness, perhaps? 

The cold is a powerful diagnostic tool and a positive stressor, providing both valuable feedback and inspirational energy for mind, body and spirit. Cold immersion is also a powerful hormetic tool when practised regularly and it can help us answer two questions:

1. How does your breath show up during stress?

2. How can your breath serve you in flowing through stress?

If you are unsure of either answer, the cold will provide the answers for you - quickly and effectively. Science now suggests that regular cold immersion reduces inflammation, improves mental and physical resilience, optimizes metabolism, boosts recovery, increases motivation and drive, and affords us a mental, physical and spiritual “reset.” We can successfully leverage the cold by following three phases when considering an ice immersion:

1. Before cold

Find the right cold plunge approach for you. (The Nordic Plunge is awesome, but perhaps start with a 30 second cold shower, and develop your practice.)  Approach the cold with humility, even reverence, and take a minute to close your eyes, quiet your mind, relax your body and use your breath to relax your entire nervous system via slow nasal inhales and slow, slightly longer nasal exhales. Use the cold as a meditation. 

Leanne is wearing the W's Neema SS Crew in grey and W's Stratam Hooded Jacket.

2. During cold

Enter the cold quietly, fluidly, and consciously. Immerse up to your shoulders, keeping neck and head dry. Allow your body to react to the cold, and use your breath to steer yourself away from initial shock to greater calm, closing your eyes, bringing your breath into your nose, lengthening your exhales, cultivating calm, gentle humming on the exhales, and staying relaxed and still so your body can build a thermal heat cone around your entire frame. Magic.

Close your eyes, quiet your mind, still your body and breathe.

3. After cold

Exit the cold the same way you enter. Resist the urge to immediately towel off or leap into a warm or hot shower. (Important - avoid the painful “after drop” that comes with too rapid warming!) Instead, let your body warm up naturally. Full body movements – tai chi, the “horse stance,” the five Tibetan Rites – quickly move warm blood from your core out to your extremities. Once you warm up, slowly towel off, and then enjoy the beautiful post-Cold full body resonance and slightly altered mental state – take the cold with you into your day or evening!

Cold science: key takeaways

  • Science seems to suggest that a mere eleven minutes of Cold exposure per week maximizes cold’s health benefits.
  • The cold only optimises when practised regularly - building psychological resilience of mind, body and spirit. Start simply and build a simple weekly “flow” for cold – we suggest a 30 second shower at first, and gradually increase your “dose.”
  • The cold shocks us into a “breathe here now” state, jump-starting our alert sympathetic (“fight, flight, or fright”) nervous system, generating endorphins, and energizing us for life.
  • The cold constricts blood flow to our outer epidermal layer (our skin), causing deep muscle circulation that reduces inflammation and stiffness.
  • The cold activates our lymphatic system, catalysing the removal of toxins and wastes from our body.
  • The cold treats injuries by constricting our blood vessels, stimulating our blood flow and boosting our immune response for faster recovery.

So, use the Cold to optimize your health.

The Cold is Gold!

NOTE: Be sure to check with a health and wellness professional before embarking on your cold journey.