Girl taking an ice bath in a lake with ice in the sun.

Ice bath in the frozen Baltic Sea

Ice bathing requires you to walk on to the frozen ice, open a hole, remove all the ice pieces, place a ladder and dip yourself naked for at least 30 seconds. Does it sound crazy to you? Why on earth someone will go through all that hassle just to swim?

Perhaps people started doing it because it is a source of power and a ritual for welcoming the hardest part of the year. Or perhaps because you really understand the beauty of the elements and the power of time. Nevertheless it is a wonderful winter ritual to get in contact with nature and embrace winter with all it hardships and magic moments.

To take an ice bath is something many people do to keep healthy. I do it to remind myself I am alive, present and in control of my reality.

When I came to Finland 10 years ago and J. told me about “Avantouinti” (finnish word for ice bathing) I thought it was not true, especially when he told me that his parents who are 60+ years old do it every single day when they wake up. The fact that older people was doing it gave me a good hint of it being good way to prolong your life.

Woman creating a hole in the ice for swimming

I am not going to lie about the shock I felt the first time I tried. I remembered all those fake stories people in my hometown in Colombia said about not touching cold water if you were too hot because you will get your mouth twisted towards one side for life, you will get a stroke or you might even die!

I cried because I was in pain but gradually realized that the pain I was feeling was not bad at all. The fear I was feeling was much worse than anything else! It was spoiling a magic moment and I felt really angry at myself.

Fortunately I did not allowed that fear to blind me from discovering the beauty of Avantouinti and now I long every winter to make the ice pond in front of the little cottage by the Baltic sea.

Finnish people have been ice swimming for centuries as part of the sauna cleansing tradition. Wim Hof has popularized ice bathing with his amazing breathing techniques and the health benefits of exposing your body to low temperatures was passed from generation to generation in this remote country.

The cold is your warm friend and one of the three pillars of the wim hof method. Proper exposure to the cold starts a cascade of health benefits, including the buildup of brown adipose tissue and resultant fat loss, reduced inflammation that facilitates a fortified immune system, balanced hormone levels, improved sleep quality, and the production of endorphins— the feel-good chemicals in the brain that naturally elevate your mood.

Wim Hof
A woman taking off her towel to take an ice bath

What are the health benefits of Ice bathing?

  • Increased cold tolerance
  • Decrease in flus and colds
  • Decrease in aches and pains
  • Improvement in circulation
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Mindfulness and Meditation
  • Stress relief
  • Sleep improvement
  • Helps to improve depression and Anxiety
  • Increases Libido

Recommendations for Ice bathing.

Ice bathing is not recommended if you suffer from heart disease.

Remember to always go ice bathing with a partner in case of an accident, quite often this winter activity is made in frozen lakes or the sea which can be very slippery.

Protect you feet with woolen socks to avoid pain in your toes! Believe me, it is very painful if you don’t.

Woman in an ice pool

Remember to breathe! Once you enter the water it is normal to start breathing faster than normal but try to slow your breathing and make deep inhalations. This will avoid you from hyperventilating.
Once you come out from the water, pat yourself dry and put on very warm clothes, preferably layers and warm socks.

Drink plenty of water afterwards.

Let me know what yo think about ice bathing. Would you do it of you had the chance? Have you ever tried it? Let me know in the comments below or on my Instagram page. I love to read about your experiences and opinions.

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