Updated: Oct 4
Unveiling the Transformative Benefits of Mindful Movement, Breathwork and Cold Water Therapy.
As a reflexology & massage therapist, my journey in the world of holistic wellness has exposed me to an array of powerful practices that promote health benefits, self-care and wellbeing. And lately it seemed that movement, breathwork and cold water therapy was in the fore front of my mind.
I had recently started trying to get to grips with yoga for my own fitness, I had watched the Dutch ‘Ice Man’ and his Wim Hof method programmes on TV, plus numerous celebs accounts on Instagram plunging themselves into their ice tubs or cold water swimming and talking about breathwork practices. And whilst I already use/advise breathing techniques during my Reflexology and Massage practice I knew there was more to be experienced.
So ... due to my inquisitive mind, love of the outdoors and trying new things (!) I recently had the pleasure of attending one of ‘Regulate the Pace’ Connect in Nature workshops at the Grow Wilder premises in Frenchay, Bristol where the lovely duo Katie & Katie (a Health Coach and Occupational Therapist) enjoy bringing likeminded people together in the outdoors (rain or shine!) to slow down, connect, challenge themselves & thrive by guiding us through Body Movement, Breathwork and Cold-Water Therapy.
The venue itself is beautiful, natural and peaceful; an outdoors community, back to nature with plant life and wildlife thriving.
As a small group of like-minded ladies, we gathered under a canvas canopied area where after introductions, we began with some movement and flow exercises to stretch and open up our bodies, helping to increase mobility by relaxing the body and releasing any tension.
It was then time to introduce us to some breathwork - We moved to a secluded area where we led down on our mats within a circle enclosure of willow trees – looking up into the sky with just the treetops view around us really set the scene. So peaceful and tranquil! Somewhere you could definitely find yourself drifting off to sleep in!
The guided somatic breathwork was surreal in a way as it took you deep into your mind and body, focusing on different patterns of breathing to show us how to breathe functionally, taking you deeper and deeper with a guided relaxation session of breathwork beats to help balance the nervous system, bringing the body into a balanced state of calmness.
It was amazingly relaxing, with no time for the mind to start wandering to those lists of jobs to do later!
After a small break and some further energising breathwork and movement to wake us all up and get the blood flow pumping it was time to take a plunge into the ice-cold water!
(this was optional, so you didn’t have to if you didn’t want to/or due to health reasons it wasn’t advised).
There were two Lumi Ice pod baths and 2 by 2 we stepped up and stepped in.
Having never tried anything like this before (not counting the short blasts of cold water at the end of showers to try and prepare myself for this!) and knowing how I feel when walking into the sea on holidays or outdoor pools – Brrrrr chilly!!!
The nerves and adrenaline were definitely present but there was also the excitement and thrill!
With the Katie’s by our sides whilst we stepped into the tubs, they ensured we were remaining calm and guided us with our breathing – steady and slow, as we lowered ourselves down into the water.
It was surprisingly not as bad as I thought it would be - chilly yes! But comfortably sat with the water up around shoulder level for just a few minutes as advised due to the water temperature. The slow, calm and steady breathing definitely helped ... a few giggles and you noticed the difference!
It was then tea and cake time to warm us all up and refuel - A great end to an amazing experience!
The whole workshop experience was relaxing yet energising - A definite mood and energy booster!
And something I would recommend and continue to pursue.
If interested visit their pages to find out more!
Yoga Movement - A Pathway to Flexibility, Strength, and Inner Calm.
Yoga, an ancient practice originating from India, has gained immense popularity worldwide for a good reason.
This holistic approach to well-being combines physical postures (asanas), breath control (pranayama), and meditation to achieve harmony within oneself. Yoga is accessible to all ages and fitness levels, making it an ideal practice for those seeking a way to improve their overall health.
Benefits of Yoga -
Improved Flexibility and Strength: Yoga poses gently stretch and strengthen muscles, tendons, and ligaments, promoting flexibility and stability. With regular practice, you'll notice a reduction in aches and pains, as well as an enhanced range of motion.
Stress Reduction and Mental Clarity: The combination of mindful movement and controlled breathing in yoga fosters a sense of inner calm and tranquillity. Stress and anxiety levels decrease as you learn to be present in the moment and let go.
Enhanced Posture and Body Awareness: Yoga encourages mindfulness in movement, leading to improved posture and a deeper connection with your body. This heightened awareness can have a positive impact on your daily life, reducing the risk of injuries caused by poor posture.
Whether you're a beginner or have experience, Yoga can adapt to your needs and gradually lead you to a more balanced body.
Breathwork: Unleash the Power of Conscious Breathing
Breathing is an automatic function – we have to breathe to stay alive don’t we?!!
But did you know that conscious breathing can significantly impact our physical and emotional well-being?
Somatic Breathwork is a practice that involves deep, intentional breathing, enabling us to tap into our bodies and release emotional blockages.
Benefits of Breathwork:
Stress and Anxiety Reduction: Have you ever noticed that when you’re feeling stressed, anxious, worried or rushing around that you are either holding your breath or that your breathing is very shallow??
Deep, conscious breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, signalling the body to relax and unwind. This simple technique aids in reducing stress, anxiety, and even symptoms of depression.
Emotional Release: Somatic breathwork can help release trapped emotions and unresolved trauma stored in the body. By acknowledging and breathing through these sensations.
Enhanced Energy and Vitality: Conscious breathwork helps increase oxygen levels in the body, improving energy levels and mental clarity.
It can also contribute to better sleep and overall vitality plus help lead to better posture, improved digestion, and a greater appreciation for the signals our body sends us.
Cold Water Therapy: Embrace the Invigorating Power of Cold Immersion
Embracing the chill of cold water, such as cold showers, dips in natural bodies of water or sitting in a tub of ice-cold water may seem daunting at first (understandably!) but the benefits and rewards can actually be worth the initial shock.
This practice has been known to stimulate circulation, boost immunity, and enhance mental resilience.
Benefits of Cold Water Therapy:
Improved Circulation and Lymphatic Function: Cold water immersion constricts blood vessels, forcing blood to circulate more efficiently; boosting blood circulation which can help in reducing inflammation and aiding recovery as well as promoting cardio-vascular health.. This enhances blood flow to vital organs and encourages lymphatic drainage, plus exposure to cold water strengthens the immune system, making us more resilient to common illnesses.
Mental Resilience and Stress Tolerance: Cold water immersion can be a powerful stress-reducing technique. Cold water exposure activates the body's natural stress response, teaching it to adapt and handle stress more effectively over time. As a result, individuals may experience increased mental resilience and a greater ability to cope with challenging situations in our daily life.
Enhanced Mood and Alertness: Cold water therapy has been linked to the release of endorphins – those ‘feel good’ hormones, providing a natural mood boost and increased alertness. It can be an excellent way to start the day feeling energized and invigorated.
(*Nb. There are a few health conditions that advise against the use of cold water immersion so its best to check first *)
Remember, the key to reaping the full benefits of these practices lies in consistency and a genuine desire to connect with yourself at a deeper level. So, step onto the Yoga mat, embrace the gift of conscious breath, and dare to take the plunge into cold water!!
Start with small steps and be patient with yourself!
Ali Iles (MAR, MFHT) is a Reflexology & Massage Therapist based in Downend, Bristol BS16.
Offering Complementary Therapies, providing you with time for relaxation - relieving tension and helping to improve your sense of wellbeing and health.
A full member of ‘The Association of Reflexologists’ (AoR) and ‘Federation of Holistic Therapists’ (FHT).