My Wim Hof Ice Tank Experience
Have you ever done something you thought you’d never do, only to discover you love it?
Or yearned to find something that could help you overcome a health issue or whatever’s holding you back?
That’s what happened when I sat in a tank of ice at a Wim Hoff workshop recently.
I’ve always enjoyed setting myself personal challenges such as running a half marathon, doing a triathlon, and completing the Machu Picchu trek. Yet as I adapt to a new slower life, to keep my propensity for fatigue at bay, I can’t see myself doing any more physical challenges requiring stamina.
However, getting into an ice tank was certainly outside my comfort zone.
It was also something on my bucket list and so as soon as I heard about nearby workshops, I arranged one for a few of my friends.
Wim Hof sparked a new curiosity
Having read Wim Hof’s book and watched the recent Freeze the Fear TV series, I was curious to experience his breathing exercises and cold emersion for myself.
Many scientific studies show that the Wim Hof Method can enable us to get far more from our bodies than we have been conditioned to believe, including our ability to heal ourselves or lessen the severity of, many common chronic health conditions.
Could Wim’s approach eliminate my intermittent fatigue and ignite a plentiful supply of energy in my body again?
To cut a long story short, the Wim Hof workshop was an incredible experience that shifted something deep within me. Already I feel more empowered and excited about new possibilities ahead.
Wim Hof breathing – am I still alive?
Our workshop took place on a farm in the Scottish countryside.
We started in a gorgeous yurt lying down in a circle on yoga mats, hugged by the heat from a wood-burning stove, as we were guided through a relaxing visualisation.
Drifting off to our own special place… before starting Wim’s breathing protocol – around thirty rounds of diaphragm-led breathing.
We did this at a pace quite a bit quicker than I’d done at home, probably because I’m more used to slow mindful breathing in my yoga practice.
When it came to the point where we held our breath, I was really surprised at how easy it was to do.
I felt a deeper sense of calm, peace, and lightness than I’ve ever felt before.
It was as though I was simply energy and thoughts floating around inside my body. But not restricted to my body.
About a minute or so into holding my breath I remember the conversation in my mind:
Am I still alive?
Yes, I’m still here.
But I’m not breathing.
Am I sure I’m not breathing?
No. I don’t need to breathe, I can just be.
Relax and let your body do what it can do…
I am here, but don’t need to breathe.
I am here, but don’t need to feel anything in my body.
I am still here, and I’m in control of what’s happening.
Then it was time to take a breath, hold, and repeat the whole process another couple of times.
At the end of this, I felt great – I felt spaced out, high, and enlightened.
I now know Wim Hof’s particular breathing practice changes the alkaline state in our bodies, which reduces inflammation, and in turn, helps prevent and heal many diseases and conditions.
But it wasn’t an instant healing I felt at that time.
Rather I felt empowered by the knowledge I’d got my body to do something I didn’t think was possible. Knowing I had that level of power within me, I knew I could challenge myself more.
Good timing, I guess as I walk outside towards the ice tank.
The Wim Hof ice tank experience
The tank we got into was a bit like a high-topped paddling pool, full of cold water and ice.
Interestingly our pre-dip chat was more to do with concerns about climbing in and out of the tub, rather than getting cold.
I went first and stepped boldly into the tub.
Then suddenly an unexpected fear appeared and prompted me to reach out and grab both hands of our instructor. I was terrified to move and I held on tightly. This threw me slightly.
Why was I so scared to sit down in the tank?
The tank was shallow. I could physically sit down in the tank with my head above the water.
Yet I was pleading with our instructor not to let go of my hands.
She calmly told me it was only my skin that was cold. That my core was fine, and my body would quickly adapt to the new environment I was stepping into.
She was right. After a few F**KITY F**Ks, I was in. Sure enough, within a couple of seconds, I no longer felt the cold.
Turning my attention to my breathing, and taking a few slow mindful breaths I started to feel the calm I’d felt during the breathing exercise – albeit with all sorts of thoughts flying around my head…
Am I really feeling fine?
Why am I not cold?
It doesn’t matter.
Trust your body to do what it intuitively knows how to do.
Trust you can enjoy being here.
Trust you can let go of thoughts and fears that no longer serve you.
Am I hot now?
My memories of sitting in the tank are of me feeling relaxed, beaming, and looking around in pure bewilderment.
But it was what happened next that blew me away the most.
Usually, it takes me a couple of hours to warm up from a dip in the sea. But within a minute or so of getting out of the ice tank, I suddenly felt a huge heat surge from the centre of my body. It felt as though I had a wood-burning stove within me. Radiating heat all around my body.
Not just warm. This was a strong burning heat.
But not a hot sweats. This was an inner heat without any sweating.
‘Is my body hot?’ I asked one of my friends.
After a few prods, she said no. To her, my body felt cold.
Yet, I couldn’t believe how hot I felt inside.
It was exactly what I’d read in Wim’s book – that the body will adapt to its surroundings and will produce the heat it needs. I’d never felt anything like it.
Letting go of my fear of cold water
It was only a few days after the Wim Hof experience that I recognised what had happened when I was scared to sit in the tank.
I’ve been sea swimming in Scotland for the last couple of years and while I’m not a good swimmer, I’ve often thought there was also something else holding me back.
I was on holiday in Banff, Canada over thirty years ago when I think I developed a fear of cold water.
One memory that’s come back was being on a boat trip on a stunning emerald glacier-fed lake. As we took in the incredible views, our guide told us that the water was so cold that if we fell in, we’d very quickly die of hyperthermia. Looking back that feels a bit dramatic. I’m sure this was just one fact our guide shared with us. But it’s the only thing that had remained ingrained in my mind all these years.
Then a couple of days later, I remember being terrified as a wasp flew around me while being on a small kayak on another glacial lake. At that point, I had a wasp phobia and the irrational part of me was desperate to jump in the water to get away from the wasp. But I couldn’t, in case I got hyperthermia and died. I felt trapped.
Feed that trauma with future encounters with wasps and stories of people dying in Scottish lochs and my fear, a reliable negative response to cold water, was formed.
Now don’t get me wrong, being in ice-cold water can be extremely dangerous and can result in death. Particularly if you’ve not built up your exposure to the cold and your body’s ability to adapt.
However, when you have any over-exaggerated reaction to something, clearing the fear, phobia, or trauma, can help you feel better and achieve far more in the future.
My Wim Hof legacy – a new habit is forming
I’m not sure where this is taking me but I’ve since enjoyed a couple of sea dips and now start every day with a few rounds of Wim Hof breathing and a cold shower.
I already crave my daily cold shower. What started out as only a few seconds has now stretched to a cold shower of around a minute.
Last week I was excited to have started to experience the hot surge of heat afterward from this too. I’ve discovered I feel warmer when I finish my shower with a couple of minutes of cold water than without it.
My energy seems better too. So long as I feel this way I’ll definitely keep going with my new morning routine.
I’m not sure where this new adventure is going but I trust how this will evolve.
Where can you do a Wim Hof experience?
Do you fancy giving this a shot?
- Check out Wim Hof’s website for details of resources, events, YouTube videos, and instructors near you <HERE>. I rarely read books more than once but with this one, I started at the beginning again as soon as I finished it the first time.
- I would also thoroughly recommend Wim Hof’s book The Wim Hof Method. I rarely read books more than once but with this one, I started at the beginning again as soon as I finished it the first time.
- The Wim Hof App is also excellent so you can practice and keep track of your breathing, cold showers, and more.
Give yourself the best chance
If you enjoy setting yourself personal challenges, you want to get the most from your body, or you suffer from a chronic illness, I urge you to check out Wim Hof’s work and attend a workshop. You just don’t know this could change your life until you do it.
Want to feel better, cope better, or make the most of life?
One of the things I love helping women do is overcoming stress, anxiety, and emotional and mindset blocks/fears so they find it easier to do what they’d love to do. Check out my range of personal support packages <HERE> and get in touch if you’d a chat to see how I can support you.
With love and gratitude,
The Meaningful Life Guide, Best-Selling Author & Coach
Empowering you to enjoy a happy meaningful life that lights up your heart and makes you feel proud
P.S. Have you checked out My Meaningful Life course yet? Find out more HERE.
Often described as one of the most authentic and inspiring souls you can meet, Alisoun is on a mission to improve the lives of 100,000 people – by making it easier for women to create a happy meaningful life that lights up their heart and leaves a legacy they’re proud of.
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