Think about when we get an injury and we use alternate hot and cold packs to reduce the inflammation. Similarly, when we expose ourselves to extreme cold, followed by extreme heat, we are generally reducing systemic inflammation in the body, making the body more resilient, improving blood flow and the bodies natural detoxification process.
It seems I have joined the 5am club in quarentine. It took a few days to get used to getting up at this time everyday for sure but It’s like anything, when you try something and you see the benefits, then you keep it.
The quality of sleep that we get it important as you know for all area’s of our health, so it would be so pointless to get up at 5am if I wasn’t getting to bed early and getting the sleep that my body needs. So I have been basicly going to bed as the sun sets around 9ish and waking as the sunrises at 5am or 4.30am. By the end of the first week, you just naturally wake up at that time and after a few weeks, it becomes your new norm & sleep – wake cycle.
If you don’t live near the sea, I urge you to try it just for a week. Jump up at 5am and give yourself even 30 seconds in an ice cold shower to begin with, followed by a hot one and again cold and hot. Even if it is not sunrise, try it first thing when you wake. I jump up, turn on the heat in the yoga garage, wear basicly my yoga gear and sea shoes and walk across the road to the beach and jump in as I am. Some days I have been driving to Shoreham or Brighton to swim and watch the sunrise from different angles. Jago and Gavin even joined me a few mornings, although very early of course for Jago but he has loved it, the few mornings he joined me.
I like to listen to a yoga girl or a Joe dispenza playlist as I do a walking meditation, where I really take in my surroundings, try to be mindful and present & how much easier it is at this peaceful and very spiritual time at the beginning of the day. Even though the water is not super cold at the moment, it just takes a few minutes and your breath becomes calm as you float and move with the sea, while the sun is coming up over the water. I actually really like going down there alone as I can meditate and truly just be more present. When you come out of the cold water, you are warm and tingly and the endorphins are flowing. Just bliss to then sit on the rocks and do my morning TM meditation in that state before walking back to the hot room. The energy that we start the day with flows through your whole day. If we are reaching straight away for our devices, , we are externalising our thoughts and energy before we get a chance to look inside. As a result, our day progresses in a reactive state vs proactive mode. The 5AM club by Robin Sharma is a good book about the power of your morning. I have been doing a short gratitude practice each morning and how much easier it is to cultivate gratitude at this beautiful time of the day post cold sea swim, meditation and hot yoga stretch.
Many of you will have heard of the ‘Ice Man’ Wim Hof, who bathes in ice and runs up snow-capped mountains in his shorts.
“We have become alienated from nature. But the cold is capable of bringing us back to what we once had lost.”
– Wim Hof.
There are many Wim Hof workshops all over now with Ice baths and the breathing technique he uses to deal with extreme cold. You can also do his breathing technique online. However, you don’t have to have a bath full of ice, live near the sea or have an ice cold plunge pool like Tony Robbins to reap the benefits. Just turn on the shower to ice cold and start with 30 seconds even to start and build it up. I have been doing this for a long time before we moved to the sea. You will be surprised how quickly your body adapts and you can stay in the ice cold water for longer each time.
What are the health benefits of benefits of cold sea swims or cold water therapy?
When you swim outdoors, your body has to work hard simply to stay warm Consequently, you burn more calories. The colder the water, the harder your body works to convert fat to energy. There are two types of fat in your body: brown and white. These days, we mostly store the white variety, but back in our hunter gatherer days, the balance was much more even. Studies have shown that the unique brown fat can be activated by cold-water. Not only will brown fat keep you warm, but as its job is to raise body temperature, it burns through calories at a high rate and will help boost metabolism.
BETTER BLOOD CIRCULATION
When we jump into cold water, the extreme change in temperature signals to our heart to pump more blood to our organs. As a result, circulation is improved and toxins are more readily flushed out of our system, which leads to clearer skin and a healthy glow. I’m all up for that.
REDUCTION IN STRESS AND ENHANCED MOOD
When you immerse yourself in cold water, you feel a stinging sensation on your skin, which your body combats by producing endorphins, which produce a feeling of elation once you get out.
This is because cold water stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps your body rest and repair itself. This promotes a feeling of relaxation and calm, which should then result in a better night’s sleep.
With regular cold water therapy, you will experience something called cold water shock. This shock can kick-start the immune system, improve lymph flow and help to produce more white blood cells and antioxidants, which are proven to boost your immune system and reduce various illnesses.
REDUCTION OF PHYSICAL INFLAMMATION
A natural response to immersion in cold water is the constriction of your arteries. Just like using an ice pack, this can help prevent bruising, swelling and waste tissue build-up following an injury or sprain. Cold water training can help reduce soreness in the muscles and joints in this way also.
SO NOW, LET’S COUPLE ALL THESE BENEFITS WITH HEAT AND STRETCHING IN THE HEAT DIRECTLY AFTER COLD EXPOSURE CONTRAST THERAPY
The use of contrasting temperatures—also known as contrast therapy—has been used as a healing tool for thousands of years to reduce inflammation and pain. You can apply contrast therapy locally on your skin, using hot and cold packs, or systemically, using contrast baths or steam rooms and cold pools, known as hydrotherapy, which uses water of contrasting temperatures to treat small or large areas of your body. Infra red therapy in particular, has been studied more recently and you have the emergence of companies like Red light rising selling their infra red panels for business and home. In my yoga garage I use FAR infra red heating panels.
With FAR infrared heat, the body is heated directly vs the air in the room, causing a rise in core temperature. This results in a deep, detoxifying sweat at the cellular level, where toxins reside, boosting our natural detoxification process.
“Detoxification is important because it strengthens the body’s immune system and helps the body’s biochemical processes function efficiently so that we are better able to digest the nutrients in our foods. Detoxification has also been shown to be helpful with colitis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, auto-immune disease, immune deficiency states, autism, ADD and ADHD.” -Dr. Rachel West
When we expose our bodies regularly to extreme cold and heat, it is not just for reducing current systemic inflammation but also as a preventative therapy to make the body more resilient over time. Heat increases blood flow and circulation, making muscles and tissue more flexible. It helps reduce joint pain, and spasms by reducing inflammation and tissue congestion. This is why we stretch in yoga in the heat, to allow for safer and deeper stretching.
Combine all these benefits with rising with the sun and the emotional and mental benefit of resetting your circadian rhythym with the movement of the sun. There is a peace and a gratitude that flows more naturally when we do these practises in the morning, a quick dip, followed by a stretch in the heat directly after, releasing energy blocks and improving all the natural processes of each of our bodily systems. The Circadian rhythm deserves a blog post of it’s own for sure and I will follow up with another blog post giving some biohacks on how to optimize your circadian rhythm and just how important this is for our health.
So, as we are based just opposite the sea front in Southwick, once lock down finishes, I will be introducing a program to share the benefits of these combined activities in one session around contrast therapy in groups of 6 or 7 people. There will be a sunrise option and perhaps a lunchtime option and it will be a program of 4-6 week groups at a time. Sea swim, 20 minutes HIIT and one 60 minute yoga session twice per week. I won’t have a start date on this until we know more regarding lock down but I will expect it won’t be for a few months but please email and register your interest for this ahead of time below. I welcome your feedback and preferences in the coming weeks on preferred times and days.
Find out more here. xx
Cold water immersion, combined with heat therapy activates the body’s natural healing powers that can relieve the symptoms of many medical conditions, not to mention the anti-aging benefits with the reduction in inflammation over time. When practiced on a regular basis, you will benefit from long-lasting changes to your body’s immune, lymphatic, circulatory and digestive systems that enhance your quality of life. When you rise at sunrise to do it, that stunning image of the colours of sunrise & the calm energy of the morning sun stays with you throughout the day. What’s not to love!