According to Wim Hof, the Ice Man, our physical and mental wellbeing benefits from routine exposure to the extreme cold. Through learning how to breathe, he says, we can control our anxiety and our body’s reaction to panic. To find out more about how we can all benefit from rethinking the simple act of breathing, and reevaluating our relationship with the cold, we speak to Chris Ashworth, a Level 2 Wim Hof Method instructor and ice bath regular.
Please remember to consult your GP and to do your research before attempting any kind of exposure to the cold as it is not without its risks.
00:00:07 – 00:03:58 – Welcome to the episode
00:03:59 – 00:09:12 – Ash’s background and breath journey
00:09:54 – 00:16:49 – Why we’re all breathing incorrectly
00:17:55 – 00:31:17 – Wim Hof, the cold and what to expect
00:31:23 – 00:48:21 – How to try it for yourself
- Official Wim Hof Method website
- Wim Hof YouTube channel
- Breath Is The Bridge – Chris Ashworth’s website
- Chris Ashworth Instagram
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Hello, how you doing? Welcome to the brave front, a new podcast for the single purpose talk about men’s mental health. My name is Tim Beynon, and I’m not afraid to say that I’ve suffered from poor mental health in the past.
As a journalist, I’ve also looked at the subject from many angles over the years and met some incredible people who have shared stories with me that have been both heartbreaking and inspiring. However, it struck me over time that the subject is still a tough one for men to come to terms with, recognising in yourself or admitting to yourself when your own mental health is suffering is something that we find.
Whether it be for reasons of pride or out of fear of the unknown, men are still reluctant to raise their heads above the parapet to seek the help they need, or even to talk about the things that are on their minds. Thankfully, though, the profile of men’s mental health is increasing, so I hope that the brave front can help this to continue by showcasing inspirational people and personalities.
From all walks of life across the country.
People who have lived, experience and real life stories to.
Share of their mental health.
Least as well, of course, as those people who work tirelessly to professionally explore every aspect of men’s mental health so that we can all benefit from a better understanding of what’s going on in our heads. I’m also keen over the coming weeks and months to talk to people who have tried different ways to address their own mental health issues, or who believe in methods and ideologies.
That can help others and today’s guest Chris Ashworth is as shining as Aunt Wolf. As someone who has embraced A philosophy that to others might seem extreme, but which has transformed his own mental well-being as well as that of countless others he has coached through the same practises.
Chris or Ash as he likes to be called, is a Level 2 instructor in the whim Hoff method. Now, if you’ve never heard of whim Hoff, where have you been? Whim is otherwise known as the Iceman, a Dutch motivational speaker and extreme athlete. He has risen to fame for his belief in the use of extreme cold exposure and breathing techniques.
And optimised mind and body and to combat many of the pressures and anxieties of modern day life that can lead to poor mental health.
Having embraced the cold from a young age and throughout their life that has slightly been tinged with tragedy too, Wim has gone on to set world records for swimming under ice and for prolonged full body contact with ice. You might also remember that he also last year took a group of British television and sporting personalities on an icy retreat to the mountains of northern Italy, where in a beauty programme.
Called freeze to fear, he exposed him to extreme cold challenges and breathing techniques with some incredible results. I watched the whole series initially with some scepticism because I’m not exactly a fan of the cold myself deed. I kind of hate being cold and as someone who also suffers from raynauds, which is a strange thing when your fingers go completely white after being in.
Gold. I’ve actually found that it can have a negative impact on my own mental well-being. Nevertheless, though what I saw on the TV show and the testimonies of those celebs who took part, it became clear to me that there might just be something in this. So I wanted to find out more about how something as simple as breathing and as terrifying as the extreme cold could help men’s mental health.
Not in the extremes.
Of the Alps but here.
Home a world better way to do so than to talk to someone who has met Wim, who has become a Level 2 instructor in his method and who talks with an enviable passion and enthusiasm for his pastime. Now exposure to the extreme cold is not without his dangers. So if after listening to the interview with Ash, you decide to give it a go for yourself, please do make sure that you read up on it first.
And have a chat with your doctor beforehand.
Chris, thank you for joining us and a real pleasure to have you on on the show today. It’s a, it’s a, it’s great to meet you in person. I’ve read a lot about you and I, I, I’m fascinated by what you do. So I’m I’m really intrigued to find out a bit more.
Before we start, but we dive into that, perhaps you could just introduce yourself to for our listeners and and tell us just a little bit in a in a snapshot elevator pitch, if you like, tell us a bit about yourself
Sure. OK. Chris Ashworth. Everybody calls me ash. I’m a parties instructor. I’m massage therapist and level 2 wemhoff method instructor.
I started my journey really into well-being, only around about seven years ago, so I’m kind of a late Comer to the the party as far as well-being goes, but I think one of my biggest attributes is that I say it’s not too late. It’s never.
Too late. It’s never too late because I’ve changed my life around the last seven years and become.
And more rounded, happier and calmer individual.
That’s that’s fascinating to hear. Is that the reason why you got into it in the 1st place? Was your life in a in a place where you thought, I’ve got to do something about it?
And and is that why? How you got into it? Ah well.
Well, as far as I I was a professional footballer. That’s why I have started my world. I used to wake up as a kid, you know, just scored the.
Winning goal for United in Bed so and and then I I fulfilled my dream. I was professional football and I injured my left knee ACL reconstruction reconstruction. So I kind of like put paid to my.
My career, but and at that time there there’s there’s nothing for professional footballers who don’t make it and there’s a hell of a lot.
Of who don’t.
And for for about 25 years, I would say I just did anything.
I I was.
Dug up roads. I run quarter of the country for a brewery. I was a club 1830 rap. I, I’d I’d coach football in the states. I’ve done so many different jobs and it goes to the point where my last job, well, last three jobs. Uh, when I was working in Cheltenham I was made redundant from.
And I I was sick and tired the last time it was.
A lot of car, job and house, all that, and then that month. So kind of like our friends of mine said, come and stay with us until he gets all sorted out, which was beautiful. I’m very lucky to have good friends like that.
And it’s one of those times, you know, we need, you know, we need looking self in the mirror and not not kind of like, hey, how do I look? It’s kind of like you have that conversation with yourself and it was like well, you know, if I want to meet someone I I can’t take them out cause I’ve got no money they can’t come here. It’s not my house and I can’t go there cause.
I’ve got no car. So what? What is it? Do you really have?
And as JK Rowling says, rock bottom was where I the solid foundation on which I built my success.
I feel that was kind of like my point when I was stared at myself in the mirror, I was like, you know what? I’m a nice guy. I I like. I’ll be good to people. I like to help. You know, it’s it’s my favourite thing to do is help people. So I felt starts feel good about myself. And then I thought right, I’ll train. So I trained in massage.
And while I was training that, I met my partner and then I moved down to Twickenham. So I lived down here about seven years ago and then within sort of like nine months, I’d learned to be massage therapist, polite, he’s.
During all this time my mum has suffered from Parkinson’s disease, so that was tough, especially the last like 7 years to see Mum and Dad go through. That was it was hard to see them suffer but Mum died just after lockdown which allowed me my head space to not go to bed at night. Thinking ohh she’s OK and wake up in the morning.
Total show OK it does.
OK, kind of put that to bed and allow a little bit of space for me and I knew I wanted a new skill and I knew.
It was going to be breath work because all you need is lungs and a little bit of knowledge and I was thinking I can give that to anybody, you know, you you don’t have to go and get loads of equipment. It’s like trying to learn to play cricket or something like that and you gotta buy all stacks and equipment. So.
I started to listen. I was listening to Joe Rogan on a podcast.
And he was talking to a guy called James Nestor. Now, if you’ve not read the he’s wrote the book. Breath. So, like James, it’s the breath. It’s brilliant. It’s like a handbook on evolution.
Breathing. So I read that and they were talking about this guy, whim, Hoff. Wim Hoff. You know who who? I know who’s this guy? And they said, well, he’s like, kind of like one of the last gurus around. And I was thinking right, OK. I want to learn of a guru who better to learn from.
Sir, I did. I looked him up on YouTube and I did 3 rounds of the breath and I was bouncing around this room here. I just couldn’t believe how I felt because I had this tingling, my arms and sensations, all that. I felt so alive. It’s got to be something more. So as they to research and I thought, right, go on then this is what I want.
To do and I’ll do a course and.
About four, four or five weeks into the.
Fundamentals course asset.
OK, now with the time for the.
Bath and I, I I I’m only a slim fellow, you know, I’m not a bath. And I was like, I’m not sure, you know. I didn’t like it.
Well, I I use a phrase come out of the noise and into the feeling.
Cause I call.
This the noise and and.
How things feel because if you start, it’s what I teach is. If you use your senses, you stop the brain. You stop that subconscious ruling. You. Yeah. And the first time getting into the ice was the.
First time it just was quiet, yeah.
Yeah, was going bonkers to start with. Get out, get out, get out. Get out by. Stay on top of it with your breath and all the sudden it was quiet and.
You find this.
Serene spot where your body is louder than your mind. And I was sold from then on. And that’s kind of like how I got into it. Well, gosh, I mean, in just a.
Couple of minutes.
There you, you you talked through ahead of a journey. I mean, you’ve got. You’ve gone on, you’ve got all that from a professional who did.
You used to play for by.
The way as I wasn’t like York City in the 80s.
OK, OK. Fantastic. And you know, breathing is something obviously that we all do. You say you read, you read, you read the book you?
Were inspired for somewhat for for people who might not have done breathing other than.
What we all just know or.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Every second today.
Tell us about the impact of that. What’s that? You know, what’s it like? What are we all doing wrong or?
What should we be?
Doing more of OK.
It’s quite simple really. The reason I teach breath work is because most people have forgotten how to breathe. We we just forget when you’re when you’re a child, you move kind of like really freely and you’ve got a really.
Open rib cage and everything’s nice and free, but then you go to school and they’re like, hey, you gotta sit down there, you don’t move and you’ve got to sit down for hours. And where you had this nice.
Horizontal breath, where you opening and closing the ribs. That existence turns into a more vertical breath. And now, with our modern world where we get we, we’re constantly distracted and we’re constantly being fed fear all the time, you know.
Don’t go out there.
Going to it’s it’s just a constant barrage, which forces us more and more into our head.
And it also forces more and more into our chest. So we start to that’s why we’ve got this huge epidemic of people and anxiety and.
You know, I feel.
But if you learn breath work, you can deal with anxiety. Cause anxiety is a mental thing which manifests itself physically, whereas if we can use our physical self to calm them down. So for me it was learning techniques that I can give to anyone at any time.
Yeah, that it’s had a profound effect on my world. Not only do I.
I’m more energetic, which is hard to believe. I’m people call me Zebedee and take her and stuff like that, but I’ve got energy to burn and I’ve also got this calmness that I know I can return to this calmness and all I’ve got to breathe and it gets me there. So had more anxiety. Something that you suffered from.
Before this or so can you.
See the direct impact on your own.
Mental health as a result.
Of being massively ohhh yeah.
OK, Hanzo, I was the typical angry northerner. I was, I was. Everything’s being done to me. Why are
They doing this to me now it’s it.
Was all that and I used.
To get angry there, there.
I just hit the roof and if I if I talk to my dad now, I have to remain calm all the time because my dad’s like a.
A syllable away from volcano, you know? So I understand where he came from.
But like 7 years down the line and having put in more tools into my toolbox of how to use my breath and also getting into the cold but also re expanding my knowledge and understanding how the subconscious works and things.
Like that is.
Is allowed me to build this kind of. I have a shield.
Around me now. Yeah. If something wants to get.
This is I say this is.
My house. This is where I’m the.
P If anything wants to come in here.
It’s. I’ve got to allow it or else it won’t get in.
I mean, I’ve had COVID twice, but I don’t have symptoms because I use breathwork to battle that right now. There’s so many different ways you can use your breath to alter your stay in every day. Yeah. Yeah, it’s it’s such a powerful tool. If you can get it into your toolbox, I mean.
If we’re breathing.
We’re all breathing incorrectly, yes, and you say that’s all that’s in our chest rather than in our in our.
In our in our belly. That’s OK. So. So in a nutshell, we should be breathing more from below than we are. And is that why we hyperventilate? Is that why?
When you get.
Stressed absolutely well hyperventilate, OK, absolutely. The the the best. I mean, getting it into the cold is one of the best ways of teaching you to breathe with your diaphragm and and use.
A belly breath.
Yeah, because the diaphragm, in my opinion is the the is the.
Muscle. It’s the muscle that it’s one of the biggest muscles in our body, and if you don’t engage it, it can be really tiring. Yeah. I mean, I get people to do a quick exercise where just panting through and. And most people can only do it for about 15 seconds and they go, oh, God, I’m tired because they’re using their intercostal muscles whereas.
Go all day because I’m using my diaphragm and and and when you lost touching it, the lost touch with the diaphragm and it’s so many reasons it’s a good thing it’s it’s called the the the 2nd heartbeat, the thoracic pump. So if you imagine if your heart’s racing, your breath is race.
If you start to use your diaphragm and you can slow that breath down, you’re going to slow your heart rate down, and that brings you into a calm space, which is what I teach. It’s. Yeah. So physiologically, then what is happening inside your inside our body? What’s the science behind this in terms of is it increasing the amount of oxygen we’re taking in and getting to our blood? And therefore our muscles and our organs and things like that.
What what’s actually happening physiologically?
We’re going to do that different type of.
Breathing. OK, So what you what you’re doing is when you start to panic and you start to.
Your sympathetic nervous system is switching on. It’s your fight and flight system, which either means we’re going to fight something or we’re going to.
Run so all.
The blood rushes to the major major muscles around your.
Around your glutes and in your legs and in your chest, and your arms ready.
Whereas what we’re looking for is we need to access our parasympathetic nervous system. Now a phrase where you can’t think yourself into calm, but you can breathe yourself into calm. Now, if to for us to access the parasympathetic we think of parasympathetic as a parachute.
Comes down to access that we can use the breath now the way to access that is just it’s a simple thing. You extend your exhale.
And that’s all you do, but there’s different ways of doing it. I mean, one of the best tips I can give anybody who watches this, if you’re stressed out, just hum. Hum. Yeah. Because if I say to people, I take a breath and then count any breaths over, say, 20 seconds, then it turns up by three if you’re over.
Sort of like.
1415 breaths per minute is telling me that your body’s in a sympathetic state, so the body is getting ready to fight off.
Right now, if you start to extend your Excel, it’s around about 7 seconds. You need to get past, but if you start to hum for instance, you take one breath in and you can go for about 1520 seconds going. So if you start to home, take a deep breath in through the nose, start to hum, it might seem weird to all the people in might look at you.
But you’re calming yourself down. Yeah, and if you can try and keep a nice a nice single tone, you can hum up tune if you like. But.
Is accessing the parasympathetic is by extending your exhale. It’s what we teach when people go into.
The ice right. Because when you go into the ice, you’re sympathetic. Nervous system goes through the roof, it’s going oh.
Oh, what’s going now? I’m going to die.
I’m going to die in your head. I’ll be talking all.
This thing what?
What’s? It is just breathe into your belly, extend your axle.
Breathe into your boat, extend your XL and that’s the way to access the calm part.
So the cold I want to talk about the cold, so whim, whim, Hoff. Now, for most of us, I mean, I I only came across him.
Following the BBC programme that was on the telly early this year, always at the end of end of last year, not quite sure, but it was a fascinating programme. He took a lot of celebrities into the cold and, you know, dumped them in the ice and and put them through various challenges and and and way out of their comfort zone. And what we witnessed in that programme was all kinds of things.
They kind of.
You know, a lot of them started talking a lot more about their mental health and and some of the things that have been impacting them. And and we saw how the, the, the, the effect of the cold helped them to kind.
To deal with some of that and and to open up in ways they hadn’t opened up up before and that.
Was fascinating. So.
Tell me a little bit about Wim Hoff. Tell me a little bit how you got, you know, how you became a Level 2.
Instructor as as as.
You are and yeah, and it turns a little bit about the whole phenomenon of of him.
Of why is he special? OK.
Where will it argue he’s not.
OK. We would argue he’s not special and he tells Henry anybody can do this, but that we’re off method and we’re off of very different things. Whim Hoff himself is. He’s an amazing guy. I’ve met him a couple of times and he’s such a charismatic man, but it’s what he’s learned and how what he’s taught is the bit that I latch onto because.
I know it works.
So he’s uhm, a Dutch extreme athlete.
When he was born, he was well. He he’s he’s a twin.
And his brother was born, and then they pushed his mum out into the corridor and she was.
Like, I think there’s something still left.
Here. And he was born in the corridor and she said, you know, if if he survives, I’m going to make him a missionary and it’s kind of like.
Sort of, in a way of what he is now, but from there things notable things. He was his. His neighbours found him asleep and snow when he was seven in the evening, had to take him home. Uh, you know, the thing he was, he lived in a squat in, in, in Amsterdam, uh, with artists, poets, musicians, etc.
And and he was walking down the road past the park. There. He’s seen a million times and he just had this urge to go against the cold water. It was a cold day. And once again for cold water. So he followed his urge. He just followed his intuition and went and got into.
And that rather than going into the shock response, which most people.
Yeah. Is that response? His body was telling to breathe deep? Hardly. That’s kind of where it was born for.
Then and then later on, after this sort of revelation, he’d met his his wife, a liar.
And he’d been trying to gain notoriety by breaking world records. I think he holds 2526 world records. One of them is holding on to a piece of rope in between 2 air balloons mile about miles up in the air. Don’t know many miles. But. And my first question is why? Why would.
You do that. Why is that a record?
Yeah, exactly, exactly.
But it’s, it’s about we talk a lot about setting intention and if you set your intention plan out where you’re going to go to and visualise it and go after it and have only one single thought then.
You’ll achieve it, which is why I’ve kind of like, well, I’ll tell you.
About how get to level 2 in a.
Minute. But when I then there was a a low point in his life where his his wife, a liar. As she’d been struggling with depression and.
She basically just kissed the four kids goodbye and jumped out of an eight Storey window and killed her.
And from that moment, obviously he was broken, but he wanted. He wants to wage war on depression and wants to wage war on on that because he would call them the terrorists of the mind, the real terrorists of the mind or depression and anxiety do all these things that are around thee. The problems that can come with your head.
About I think it’s about five years ago. I think it was only about 3035 instructors and now there’s over 1000.
Well, because because of people like me and meeting I, we trained at 50 people up in each bunch. We trained 50 people and pretty much to a man, every one of them are either a survivor of cancer or are battling cancer or they’ve been in a car accident.
And had mobility issues there. There’s so many.
Big stories from people. There’s not a lot of these people aren’t healthy people who’ve come to it and they’ve come to it for a reason because it works for them. And it worked for me, which is why I was drawn to it. It’s.
It’s in. I would say there there is a a credible responsibility for for you. You know there as well and and for for women in terms of the method.
Because you’re you’re, you know, people can be will.
Be in a very vulnerable state when they’re when they’re when they’re going through those kind of incredibly emotional.
Personal reasons for their depression or their anxiety or whatever it is, their poor mental health. So so.
How how to sort of take that into account when you’re working with people that you have to be careful? Obviously you know that you know you have a duty of care to them as well. Of course you do. So is is it? Is that something that’s always taken into account and I’m assuming it always is, but how does that, how does that work? Absolutely. Safety is first. Safety is always 1st and we go through.
Quite some quite extensive training to reach the level to be an instructor to start with, never mind Level 2 and to be an instructor in the 1st place you I mean.
The amount of training that we went through and the amount of testing that you go through because we’re putting scenarios all the time and how you would deal with that scenario, I think.
We we have lots of phrases. One of them is we never force. Nothing is ever forced. So someone doesn’t want to do anything. It’s not. We don’t stand behind them like, go on. You can do that. It’s like it’s always your choice. That’s the power of doing the method. It’s your choice. If you choose to take this on and you go through it.
It’s your responsibility. I mean, as far as teaching people in classes, uh, it’s something.
That obviously being a massage therapist and polarities I’ve got like first aid and I’ve got a lot of experience of working with people and working with people in their bodies. But we’ve, we know pretty much all the country.
Contraindications that can happen. We know that.
The pill falls there.
And we’ll head them off before anything happens. Yeah, I mean, we do get you do get extreme reactions. I mean, you saw it on the TV programme where there’s people crying and there’s people laughing and.
I mean, now I I’ve had people cry on me for a good 25 minutes and and then go. No, I want to do the ice bath. I’ll then go and get in the ice bath. Where they were scared to death and they were crying. And then they said I said look, hey, we don’t the force it just come on. Let’s have a hug and she hooked. She hugged and she was crying for good 20 minutes and then she went no I’m going to do it.
As she got my space smashed, it came out.
And she felt great.
But yeah, it’s it’s about having that empathy with people and allowing them to make their decisions. Yeah, it’s not about you are doing this. It’s no. Everything here, whatever you want to do is your choice whenever. So if you don’t want, if you want, if it feels uncomfortable and you want to.
Yeah. Please do. Yeah. You know what? We know how to recognise the signs when people are breathing too quickly, offloading too much carbon dioxide. We see this. So then I will go over and give them a verbal cue. Maybe a hand on the shoulder and just say, look, you need to.
And obviously the more experience, I mean the amount of workshops I’ve done now done that 50 odd workshops. So it’s it’s something that.
It’s normal. Yeah, of course, of course. Uh, it is fascinating. Tell me what happens in the cold then. So so, yeah.
I mean, the thought, the thought of diving into it, I’ve had an I’ve had a nice bath in the past and and hated every second of it, and I had did it. I did it. I did it as a as a runner. I did it as a recovery thing after after a run.
And I I hate absolutely.
I hate it.
And I did exactly what you said. I know it that whole kind of, oh, my, you know, this is what? What am I doing this? This is insane. Going through my. Yeah. Kind of. I gotta get out of it. But So what, what is it about the cold?
Then and and.
And how do you do you? How? How do you get people through that initial panic moment where you say the flight and fight?
You know flight and fight response kicks in and everyone just wants to jump out and.
Get away from there. How? How?
Do you deal?
With somebody in that moment and get them to calm down and.
Just focus and.
And yeah, OK. Well, in all honesty, it doesn’t start in.
The high school about that moment.
Right. It’s about weeks before you come to the workshop. I’m contacting you saying, OK, how are you doing that? Everybody OK? And so I’ve given a little bit of introduction, but then we’ll send them a challenge and say look, get into the cold shower because that’s where it all starts. I mean, yes, there’s people who’ve just jumped into the ice bath without doing it.
Because your body can deal with it, it can’t. We’ve been through an Ice Age, you know the body well equipped to deal with it.
But I know we we normally start that process well well before they come to the workshop. So they’re doing getting into a shower, doing a 15 second shower for instance, and then stepping up to 30 seconds, 45 and then moving your way up to 2-3 minutes. That gets you used to how it feels a little bit but not used to the actual dice itself because it’s obviously a more extreme.
And it starts as soon as people walk in because I can identify the people who walk into my workshop. I’ll know the ones who are ready, and I’ll know the ones who want the fight. And I know the ones who are a little bit or I’m not sure should be here. You can see it by.
The body language. So during the whole day I’m I’m talk constantly. Just saying look.
It’s going to be OK. It’s fine. You’re going to get an ice bath and you’re going to be fine. So you’re constantly reassuring them all the time what actually happens when you get in the ice bath well before you get in it.
I give you all the benefits. I also give you how you going to feel in there. I also tell you how to deal with it because we have a protocol to go through. So starting with the showers and then when we come to it, it’s about setting you intention.
Keeping yourself calm.
And we’ll get people to dip their hands in, put the cold on themselves. So you start to programme the body 1st and then you can see in their eyes a lot of people.
Might wanna go oh.
But then it’s down to my guidance about saying to people, you know, because the thing that will get you out of the ice is your mind is your subconscious that will bring you out there because it’ll just go, we’re going to die. Get out. We’re going to die, guy. Yeah. Get out. That’s what will happen.
If you’ve prepared correctly and we’re nice and calm and we’re going to the ice and we’re still dying, nice long breaths, long exit.
Breathe in, and as we exhale long, then we sit down and then you go all the way till the shoulders are under and you can see people. Aha. And the panic will set in. And that’s the point where you’ve got me in front of you going. Just breathe. Breathe into your belly. Just breathe. Breathe in. Don’t listen to your mind. Just breathe. And then people start to relax. And then.
All of a sudden around about a minute in there or a minute 1/2, you get this little shot of quarters all into your system.
That’s all because.
That’s how the body reacts and it kind of goes from oh.
My God, dude. Oh, that’s.
Not too bad.
Once people get that, you see a little smile come across people’s faces.
And it’s, yeah, it’s it’s identifying the people who are gonna fight because you can’t fight the cold. You will. It’s, I suppose ultimately it’s it’s it’s a lesson in self-control, isn’t it? I suppose it’s if you can. If you can do that and come through it and you can take your body and your mind from that place of run away to that place of, you know accepting.
Where you are and.
And enjoying where you are. Even then, you could take that into our relevance of your life, presumably as well. Whenever transferable skill. Yeah. It’s a transferable skill. It’s the reason I’m so cold.
Is the reason because I used to I used to still use to scare me and and I still have the conversation because my subconscious is so everyone’s subconscious is so powerful. I still have that conversation when I’m walking towards the ice bath. Do you really want to do this?
Why can we do one next week?
And then my other side of my brain goes shut up. What you talking about? We know this is good for us. Get inside there and do it.
So it’s I as far as the physiological things that happen to you, you get you, you get vasoconstriction in your arms and legs because the body forces the blood towards the core, which is the body knows well knows you can lose a hand and you still survive. But lose no near the major organs anyway. Big trouble. So that.
Happens you get norepinephrine released into your system, which is a powerful vasoconstrictor. And while you’re in there, like you said, after about a minute or so, minute and a half, you get cortisol, which is a nice little painkiller that gets released to the body. And also when you get out, you get the hip dopamine. So you get 3 different.
Drugs that your body is produced, you don’t have to take them. You don’t have to put them on a tablet. You just need to get in.
The cold and.
It’ll deliver for you. Presumably they come with a with a range of emotions as well, so.
I imagine in.
Your workshops, you see an incredible range of emotions from like kind of fear and and and trepidation and anxiety. That’s before.
All the way through to what happens during and then I’m imagining their their big buzz and the.
Positive energy after. Yeah. Yeah, it’s triumph. Here’s what you see at the end. Triumph and you see everybody triumph together and.
And one of the another thing that we we build on, we call it the fourth pillar which is community or tribe. And while we’re there, you you you’re getting people to buddy up together and maybe two or three of you together and you’ll go together as a group and you’ll go in one or go in and the other two will support and then you’ll come back out so.
It’s kind of.
The whole thing is about.
So being together and as we says, there’s no ego, we ego.
So tell me a little bit about what we could do ourselves if you know, if perhaps we can obviously come along to one of your workshops should be fantastic. But you know, if those of us who just wanted to give it a, give it a go ourselves and you talked about cold showers.
Is that something we can do? It. OK do do you. Should we go straight to cold? Do we ease it slowly from hot to cold. What? What do we do? Is it ease it or or just go? Wham, freezing. Well, OK, I’ll. I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you what I did. I I started. I used to have hot showers. Used to love.
Hot showers used to keep me in there for like half for.
Now and my girlfriend. Are you coming out the shower yet? And I’m like, no, loving it. So I started with a hot shower and then turned to cold and then was like, oh, lookout for 15 seconds. Oh my God. Then got out. And then I did that. And then 30 seconds and then 45 seconds. But now I I haven’t had a hot shower for.
No, I’ve had. I’ve had two.
Year 18 months, right. Because I only take cold showers now it’s it’s hot showers. Don’t feel right to me anymore.
So they those.
But those who are still addicted to our hot showers.
In the morning or.
Start with 15 seconds. Edgy way round. Edgy way round and keep breathing. Extending your exhale. Extend your ex until you get to cold and then try last 15 seconds.
And then trying take up to 30 seconds, then 44 by then go to 60 and that’s the point where you start to understand. I need to be breathing before I.
Get there because go.
Nice deep breath will get you through anything. Believe me, I’ll get you. Not just to the cold.
Shall I get you through a lot of other?
Stuff, but also the the.
Breath work. Don’t underestimate the breath work.
The breath work. If you want to try that, there’s on YouTube. There’s some fuss, some basic breathing protocols on.
And you do 3 mounds on there, which is just an introduction to it. But if you want to go deep and you really into that, go go and see one of the workshops because there’s loads around the UK now, absolutely.
Sure. Well, I’m. I’m. I’m definitely we’ll we’ll check.
It out presumably as well. Also the cost of living crisis.
You’re saving yourself.
A fortune on hot water as well in the.
And the true true. Yeah. Now I’ve eventually my girlfriend’s.
Doing it now. OK, excellent.
It’s only took three years. Double win.
Tell me about the breathing thing now, looking back on that programme, when I saw it and I remember being really taken by their breathing exercises they were doing, they’re all lying down on the floor and a whim seemed to take them to a a really kind.
Of almost like a trance like state and they and they kind of they came out of that in a very emotional some of them.
You know, really.
Really taken to a deep, deep place. Yeah, tell us a little bit about that. I mean, what what’s going on there and how powerful?
I think the the the breath work is the most powerful part. Getting into the ice, you learn to deal with it and then you become adapted, so it’s fine.
But with the.
Breath work. There’s so many different techniques that we can use and Wim didn’t do the, but I didn’t.
Think that way.
The basic breathwork that he used to get that sort of reaction, although I’ve had that reaction, I’ve definitely had those reactions where people have been like, like crying. I had it on.
But not last week and the week before I was working at a festival and we’re doing breathwork there and one of the ladies that there was that we did it. I was doing very calm because in a festival setting, it’s really.
Difficult, but in the end she was like she had a good cry and it was it. She was just thanking me just because she’s allowed herself to just access that.
Area for herself, and I think that’s one of the big things about the breath is that it can go deeper and deeper and deeper because you can just keep breathing. And if you just keep breathing, you get deeper and deeper and deeper and the trauma release is one of the things that you would have seen on that.
Programme. Yeah, we do something called power breath power breathing. The people will call it holotropic breathing and it’s it’s an advanced technique, but it’s one that does release a.
Lot of trauma.
I mean I have I have clients who are.
Builders and builders don’t talk, you know, builders.
Are like all right mate and.
Yeah, yeah. And it’s all like and he wasn’t willing to talk. So one of the great things about learning this breath and being able to share it with people like the builder was.
He could release his trauma without having to talk about it because they’ve made it really hard to access the words to be able to talk.
About it with.
Anybody and resist going to help, but if all I’m asking you to do is breathe, you don’t have to talk about it. Just let it out.
And yeah, I’ve done three or four sessions with that guy and he’s he. He just says I I can’t believe that I can release it without talking about it.
Is that is that so? Is it? Is that repressed emotions and memories that are being released? Yeah. Is. Is that what’s happening? Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I, I get a lot of people who are uptight I, you know, and stiff up flip, especially people my age around fifties, 50s older than me. It’s very much oh, you don’t show weakness.
Don’t you know you’re not allowed to?
Talk about ohh do you you.
Trying you don’t have that, so I work with a lot of people around my age who have this, these emotions that they’ve not been able to release for a long time because maybe they’ve been they, you know, I’m the I’m the mother in relationship. I’ve got to look after you and you know can’t show your emotions and that’s it’s it’s such a hard thing to tackle.
Because it’s so ingrained in the conditioning of people since I’ve been a kid, you know, it’s it’s so hard to access. So being able to do that just with bro.
Is it’s a wonderful gift to give to people subsumed Lily versus someone listening to this, who perhaps finds herself in that situation where they, you know, maybe they are feeling like they need to need to talk, but find that very hard to do. They don’t want to go and talk to a therapist. They don’t want to necessarily talk to friends and peers or family. Is this a route for them to take it if if so?
What would be the first step for them in terms of finding?
And perhaps look. Yeah, I would. I would say talk to the first step would be to locate a Level 2 instructor.
Because you we don’t get taught that as a Level 1 instructor because it is a lot deeper than that. I mean to train for a Level 2, it’s a whole step up and I mean going up a mountain without your top on and holding snowballs and all sorts of stuff in the actual extreme cold and then training in the extreme.
Hold you get to learn how to use your body. I mean, I mean, I didn’t think I would be able to put my hands in a bucket of ice water for half an hour, but.
I did. I didn’t think I’d be. I’d do it with my feet, but I did. And then I get into a an ice bath and just staying in the ice bath.
For 20 minutes.
But I did and it’s understanding how to get there and that allows us to go a little bit deeper with the breathwork because we can understand it a.
Little bit more.
And also we understand how to to help people through it, which is the biggest thing.
Is because some people need a hand to hold. Some people need an arm on their shoulder. Some people need to be not touched whatsoever. That is down to the scale of the instructor. So if you want to take that step, find a level 2 and tell them why. Tell them why? Because what will happen is you’ll probably it’ll change to level 2.
Telling him anyway, yeah.
And presumably, as you said at the beginning, you know, if you only ever go as far as you want to go, I mean looking at that programme, you know, they’re people went to quite extreme, you know, let and places when they did that breath work. But presumably when they, you know, on on the workshop and they’re doing it with you, you know, if you know, you only go as far as you feel comfortable going.
Exactly. I mean, I think one of the big things about that programme was the power of no. When you saw Patrice.
Evers say no. Yeah.
That guy was never going to say no to anything ever in his life. He was such a competitor. He would not stop. Yeah. And for him to say no, that was for me. That was the the high point of the whole series. I thought that was beautiful for him to go. You know what? No, I don’t need to do it, which is what we we impress on people. It’s like you don’t need to do it.
Yeah, if it’s not good, you don’t.
Feel right? Don’t do it.
And I actually was fascinated to to hear you talk about the the builder chap you were working with and and and you know how he found it so beneficial. Could you give us some examples? Because obviously this this podcast and and you know, we’re taking a close look at men’s mental health in this in this podcast and. And we know that men struggle with with talking as you.
You’ve mentioned and you know they can. They can keep things you know contained in themselves and and find it really hard to reach out. Can you give us some examples of other people? Perhaps you work with or other from other sort of walks of life? Who other men who have found everything benefit?
Oh, absolutely. I mean the the I think one of the biggest things that we we I deal with is so the younger guys that kind of it’s more bravado. And I mean I’ve done workshops and people have strolled in and.
Gone. Ah, where’s the ice bath?
You know, and it’s not like.
You’re coming at the wrong angle.
So, but I’ve also had people who.
Are really apprehensive and I I I do a little club called Dip Club where we club together and buy the ice and then we all go around to someone’s back garden and then we do our ice dips in there. So it allows us to do that without it cost you a fortune in.
Nice. Yeah. And. And one of the guys who came yesterday, he was. He came to my first one and he said he tried the breath work, but he was really sceptical and he was really scared about going into the ice bath. And since he been there.
Yeah, he he was really struggling. He’s a very powerful subconscious that’s really conditioned to not like in the cold.
You know, all all this is woo Woo, you know, because now that we’ve been conditioned to think about anything from the East and east of medicine is all woo woo. And I was the same. That was exactly the same. Uh, until I you start to feel the power of what you can do with your body and what I I felt other people.
Work with me and I felt what they’ve how they’ve affected me and because I’m open to it now rather than being so closed and this guy was a St.
And he was not sure. I don’t wanna. I’m not sure about the ice bath. Not sure, but I’m sure. OK, I said look, hey, it’s up to you. And as we always say at the end, it’s like, breathe nice and calm. You know, you made the decision if you want to go do it when you’re ready. And he went in a wolf and him straight through straight to the bottom. And he was like.
His head was going absolute.
The crazy and well at that point, I’m like, hey, hey, hey, hey, come here. Come, come, listen, listen, listen. And The thing is, when you get into the ice, most of the time your frontal cortex or cold close down for about 30 to 45 seconds when you just, you can’t make any any sense of anything. But it’s like you hear the word. Breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe. And I’ve got it ripped on a cap.
I wear as well so they can see it and hear me say it. He did calm himself down, I mean.
When he got out.
He was dumbfounded. He didn’t know.
And then he had a cry.
And I I and he was like I said, are you OK? And he was like I I don’t know. I don’t know how I feel. I don’t know what’s going on on me. And to me that’s the long bar else to me I’m thinking OK you OK is is there something and I have this effect because some contraindications can present themselves like that and they just went I’m absolutely fine I feel fine.
I’m I’m fine. I just.
Can’t believe that I’ve just done that. Yeah, and he still failed, but he’s done it. That the trauma release came there because he was like, uh, and he’d gone through a barrier he never thought he’d ever get through and.
We like to do that with end workshops. I like. I make people uncomfortable on purpose because the more you get used to being uncomfortable and being and being good with it, the easier it becomes. We we do lots of different exercises. One of my favourite ones is is soul gazing.
And you get 2 guys to stare in each other’s eyes for two minutes without breaking eye contact.
You you can see people. How that. Oh, I’m not comfortable with this looking well and then we don’t do we do some breath work and then we say OK, do the soul gazing now and the light and the focused.
Because you’ve given them a tool to help them access that area, right? I think as well the most powerful things that I have in in my arsenal is to give the right tool to the right person. And it’s having that little chap before the ice bath most the time to pick out that character.
True, because I mean, Jay, it’s not not so much just just with guys with girls as well. I mean, the amount of girls that I’ve had to say, look, this isn’t a fight. You need to cut their their.
Life, right? And really, let’s go. And you’re like, whoa, whoa, whoa. We’re not fighting here. You acceptance is what you’re looking for. Not fight. Yeah. And yeah.
That, that, there’s that. What? Another guy that I’ve worked with who’s an.
An older guy like Lasix 60s and for him to be able to allow me to help him was a massive step.
For allowing me to help him my I just have a way of getting people to let me help them. It’s kind of my favourite thing so.
He let me help him and he cried afterwards and then he went. Let’s go to the pub and he took me down the pub and he told me all about his life.
And he told me all about the problems that he had in his life, because we’d done that breath session together and he cried in front of me and he felt like that was the watershed moment that was a threshold that he could go.
And yeah, and, he said, would you come to the pub? And I said, yeah, of course. Let’s go another pint. So we went down and sat around the table, some our table. And he just. And he told me.
His life and the guy’s been through a lot and been been and been in wars and stuff and you know it served and.
It’s really difficult, especially for services. I mean, there’s a few instructors who.
Are extremely dangerous people as far as that and in the world of being in the army or commando or at the SAS? Extremely dangerous people. But and they’re helping other people in the services find the same spot they have that use the method in in a way that they found to.
To help them.
Is as you know, and a lot of times people come back, they go, they go to war. A marine or a sailor or heaven, they come back broken with no support well itself. But you also become like an amateur psychologist. At the same time, in terms of people, people wanting to open up to you after going through such a life changing event with you. Yeah, yeah, I. But hey, I’m not. I’m not.
No, doctor, it’s going to be part. I’m going to write a book, but it’s going to be for lane rather than I’m not psychiatrist and not a doctor. I’ve got no pedo HD. I’ve got no degrees or anything. But what I do have is a boatload of life experience and all the tools that I know that help me I can.
View. Yeah, on on the subject of tools and you, you, you outside of the the workshop environment away from the ice bath.
Have people told you and fed back to you in terms of how they’ve used the tools?
That you’ve given them in everyday life.
Yeah, yeah. Loads. Well, yeah, lots. I mean, I have.
It’s the people who say to me.
I went for a job interview and I used your breathing technique and I got.
The job or.
I was on the plane for the first time in my life and he used a breathing technique he gave me and I was so calm thanks ever so much. There the the little wins are.
The ones they’re the.
Ones that, just like you say that’s the tool box. Use the tool box and people reach out to me over Instagram.
And and things like that.
And and people are really.
A lot of real damaged people, but you know, someone reaches out to me. I will help you. I don’t care who you. I will help if I can help you. I will do. It’s just the way my mum is programming. Yeah. My mum has said she I’ve got got two faces on my arms. I’ve got one that says.
Being kind is all that matters, which is what my mum has drilled into me and the other one is breath is the bridge because it is it’s it’s the one that can unite your your your mind. And when your mind is scattered, use your breath as a bridge to unite your mind, your mind and your body. Again, it’s teaching your hand is.
Yeah, and yeah.
Guy is a philosopher and monk who died last year. I think the year before, but yeah, if you want to know about groovy stuff, Titch Nathan.
OK, OK. So you can read, but it’s a great, that’s a great.
Motto to live by.
I I like.
That a lot. Thank you very much for your time. I really appreciate it. That has been absolutely fascinating. I am going to go and take a cold.
Power now and see how that goes. You know you want to. Uh, yeah, I will. I will. I will give it a.
Go take care.
Take care. See. Alright, let’s see you. Cheers. Bye bye.
That’s it for this episode. Thanks to Chris Ashworth for giving us all the reason we’re the scary it might be to turn the shower to cold.
The next time we.
Get it in. But remember, if you do want to try breathing or cold exposure to help your mental health, do have a chat with your GP 1st and do your research to make sure you go to someone like Chris.
Properly qualified to support you. Don’t forget you can keep the conversation going by answering our episode question after this episode, we’d like to know, have you ever tried an?
Bar you can ask the question on the Spotify episode page, a link to which can be found in the episode notes all through the Linked Tree site. In the show profile, you can also interact with the show by sending us a voice message. We’d love to hear what we think and cross better spending time in the cold as well as your.
Ideas for topics and?
Things you’d like us to.
Cover again, just head on over to the episode notes or the link.
Cite for more details and the link to send.
And finally, if you’ve enjoyed the show, please leave us a review and subscribe on whatever platform you usually get your podcasts. In the meantime, though, look after yourselves and I’ll see you soon. Take care.