Ice Bath in Chiang Mai I'd been doing the Wim Hof breathing method in my yoga practice with remarkable results. Part of that method is to immerse in an ice bath, but never had the chance (not in Thailand). When I learned of an ice bath here in Chiang Mai, I didn't waste time signing-up. How cold does it get? How does it feel? How long can I sustain it? Many questions raced inside my head.
Duration To give attendees an idea, the event page stated, "Hop in for a refreshing 30 seconds, or challenge yourself to stay in for a couple minutes, it's up to you!" Being my first time, I was happy if I could stay up for 30 seconds. The guys who already took the bath said the tub was colder than the usual because more ice was put. I counted about 5 bags of ice.
Pranayama Some did some breathing first, but others just went immediately for the ice bath. Cautious, I did the full Wim Hof 3 sets of 30 deep breaths that took over 10 minutes. By doing pranayama with breath-holds (and bandhas + mudras), I was also generating some much-needed heat.
remaining calm and equanimous at neck-deep ice bath
Into the Ice Bath The first plunge felt like an electric shock that makes you jump out of the tub. Staying longer felt like a million tiny needles piercing into your skin. This initial hurdle was the most challenging. Many instances when I felt I couldn't take it anymore but I kept observing the sensation without reacting to the cold. It was similar to Vipassana's adhiṭṭhāna(strong determination). It came to the point where the discomfort plateaued, enabling me to hold it much longer.
Other people have already come in and out of the tub and I was still there. At some point, Chris, the host told me that it may not be a good idea to stay any longer since it was my first time. He added that I will feel completely exhausted the rest of the day for staying too long. I listened and came out, even though I could have stayed longer. Total time - 12 minutes.
Shivering I started shivering when I was out of the tub. This reminded me of my climb to Mt. Pulag(3rd highest peak in the Philippines and the coldest place in the country) where I was doused with cold water at the summit (at night) as part of an initiation rite. I was advised by the veteran ice-bathers to move around to generate heat. I did push-ups until my shivering subsided.
Fatigue Not only Chris, but also Di, who already participated in a Wim Hof course, and another ice-bather warned me of the coming fatigue that would wipe me out for the remainder of the day. Makes sense - the body uses up a lot of energy to generate heat in stabilizing my core temperature. After that, there isn't a whole lot of energy left to function optimally for the rest of the day. I waited for the fatigue...and waited...and waited. No, it never came. Modesty aside, it's not surprising. I've experienced the superman-effect a few times with extended pranayama where I could no longer get tired.
Ending Thoughts The whole ice-bath experience was special. It's not something you do every day. It's also a test of mental resolve. Highly recommended!
My yoga practice has all been about mental equanimity while observing discomfort morphing into pain and suffering without any reaction whatsoever. The ice-bath was simply another test. By holding the ice-bath for 12 minutes on my first attempt, it's a validation that my practice works.
Sure, it works, but what does it all mean in our day-to-day life? Plenty! We constantly react to our environment and we react to our thoughts. 99% of the time, we are not even aware we are on auto-pilot, repeating the same old pattern into a vicious loop. But by observing sensation(e.g. - a painful memory from the past, a misplaced comment by a colleague, worries about the future, etc.) with no reaction, we keep the balance of our mind and see what other exercisable options are available (instead of auto-piloting). Consequently, we make informed decisions. We remain present and in control.
Thank you Chris and the rest of the crew for hosting this!!!
pictures lifted from Draper Startup House event page
Friend (Dec 30, 2020) I have been doing Wim Hof for a year, including cold showers (colder in Korea), and credit it with allowing me to significantly cut down on daily required antibiotics for a chronic medical condition. I finally got the opportunity to ice bath here in CM at Bio Hacks I found through meetups. First one was 12/20 and the second was yesterday, 12/27. I managed 10 minute immersion. Yesterday I was a little wiped out the rest of the day, but not the first time I did it. I hope to continue. (Maybe cut down to 8 minutes)
Dindo (Dec 11, 2020) Did cold plunges back in 2015-2017 when the gym i was a member had it. Quite an experience. Lost significant body weight and subcutaneous fat doing those plunges...
Izak (Dec 11, 2020) My man!
Dave (Dec 3, 2020) Did it feel like you were back in Canada?
TheLoneRider (Dec 3, 2020) Canada is colder 🙂
Karen (Dec 3, 2020)
Gigit is the calmest one but I can feel your mind struggle
TheLoneRider (Dec 3, 2020) haha, you just don't see the mental screams and howling LOL
Pam (Dec 3, 2020)
Dude, you look completely "chilled" out.
TheLoneRider (Dec 3, 2020) chilled and on the rocks 🙂
Phung (Dec 3, 2020)
TheLoneRider (Dec 3, 2020) ...that rhymes. Did you just compose poetry for me? LOL
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