“The Cold is my teacher, hard but righteous.”
– Wim Hof
Growth happens as a result of your body being exposed to positive stress. Contrast therapy is exposing your body to cold then heat then back again and repeating. You may have heard about cryo studios that expose you to freezing nitrogen gas. We use ice baths and a dry sauna. The relaxation benefits are huge and while the scientists are still gathering data there are hints of some pretty compelling health and recovery benefits, too.
There is something primal about exposure to the cold. When you first get into an ice bath every ounce of your being is saying get the hell out of here. It is the ultimate in the fight, flight, or freeze responses. The cold teaches us that we have control over our reactions. At that moment, you make the decision of either jumping out and running away from a perceived threat or calming the mind with slow diaphragmatic nasal breaths and working through the discomfort.
Paraphrasing Brian MacKenzie — when a lion hunts an antelope, physiologically there is no difference. Both are in a sympathetic state. The only difference is the lion wants to be there and the antelope doesn’t. In modern society, we have trained our bodies for comfort. We stay in climate-controlled settings with the thermostat on 70 degrees year round. We need exposure to extreme cold and heat as it makes our bodies and our mind more resilient over time.
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