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The 6 Best Ice Bath Breathing Techniques

If you've kept your ear to the ground, then you'll know that ice baths are a trending topic. Science has shown that you can reap many benefits from taking them, such as less stress, inflammation, and muscle soreness, as well as better metabolism, heart health, and moods.

Jumping into something chilly is no easy feat though, and if you don't know how to breathe in an ice bath, you might not get the most out of your experience. But by learning the basics beforehand, you'll have a much smoother time.

Read on to find out the 6 key ice bath breathing techniques you can try, so you're prepared for your next cold-plunge session. 

6 Ice Bath Breathing Techniques

Deep Breathing

Deep breathing is something we all know how to do, so it's perfect to use as an ice bath breathwork beginner.

All you have to do is focus on taking slow and deep breaths. For the best results possible, first inhale deeply through your nose. Once you've filled your lungs completely, slowly exhale through your mouth.

This is a breathing technique that can help calm your nervous system. As a result, you'll reduce stress.

ice bath breathing techniques
Following these ice bath breathing techniques can help you endure the cold!

Belly Breathing

Belly breathing is also known as diaphragmatic breathing. As the name suggests, it involves engaging your diaphragm, which plays a key respiratory role in your body.

This type of ice bath breathing is very similar to deep breathing. In fact, it's a subtype, so you'll be drawing in deep and slow breaths here too.

However, the main difference is the spotlight on your abdomen. When you slowly inhale through your nose, focus on filling your abdomen with air and expanding that instead of your chest. When exhaling through your mouth, let you abdomen deflate and slightly contract your abdominal muscles to push out any remaining air.

Belly breathing is great for maximizing the amount of air entering your lungs. SInce it leads to deeper inhalation and more complete exhalation, you'll get increased oxygen exchange, and therefore, better relaxation.

Box Breathing

What's really cool about box breathing (aka square breathing) is it's a technique used by Navy SEALs. So if it works for them, it's sure to work for you!

It's also really easy to remember this breathing technique. Simply do each of the following for four seconds each:

  1. Inhale

  2. Hold your breath

  3. Exhale

  4. Hold your breath

If you're finding it difficult to adjust to the ice water, then box breathing is fantastic. This rhythmic cold plunge breathing can help regulate your body's response to the cold.

Triangle Breathing

Make a slight modification to box breathing, and you'll get triangle breathing. You'll still do each step for four seconds, but you'll skip the fourth step (holding your breath a second time). Instead, go straight to your next inhale after exhaling.

2-to-1 Breathing

2-to-1 breathing is another exercise that can calm and relax you while taking an ice bath. It's like deep breathing as well, but with more specific instructions. Basically, you'll inhale for two seconds, then exhale for four seconds. 

This longer exhale period stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system. Its responsibilities are "rest and digest" and "feed and breed," meaning it helps restore your body's normal activity levels.

Wim Hof Method

Wim Hof is a Dutchman who holds a Guinness World Record for swimming under ice. He's got numerous other icy accolades, so he's definitely earned his nickname as "The Iceman."

Unsurprisingly, he has his own method of dealing with cold exposure: the Wim Hof Method (WHM). With this breathing technique from Wim Hof, breathing and cold water will be a cinch.

First, take 30-40 deep breaths in and out through your mouth while seated. Exhale 90% on the last one, then hold your breath for as long as you comfortably can, without straining. When you need to breathe again, take a deep breath in and hold it for 10-15 seconds, then exhale slowly.

Repeat the above steps until you're comfortable with the exercise. Typically, this will be two to six times.

how to breathe in ice bath
Learn how to breathe in ice bath with Reconnect

Why Do Breathwork Before an Ice Bath?

The most important point we need to make is that these breathing techniques for a cold plunge should be done before the actual ice bath. Many people try to get into one without doing any breathing exercises prior to it, which can make the ice bath much more challenging. It's like warming up your mind and body before taking the plunge. Here's why it works:

First, breathing exercises can help calm your mind. You know that feeling of nervousness before doing something new? Well, taking some deep breaths can help you feel more relaxed and ready.

Second, these exercises can make your body feel better too. They can help reduce inflammation, which is like when your muscles feel sore or tight. So, by the end of a breathing session, you might feel lighter and more relaxed.

Lastly, doing these exercises releases natural painkillers in your body, which can make the cold water feel less uncomfortable.

Here at Reconnect, we have our own breathing technique that we'll walk you through before putting you in the ice bath. It combines coherent breathing with more powerful breathing, which means you'll do faster breaths alternating with slower ones.

Once you're inside the ice bath, you'll focus on slow and deep breathing. "Slow" is the key word here, as you don't want to hyperventilate. You can choose any of the above techniques, or you can even hum.

Come Try an Ice Bath for Yourself

Now that you know some ice bath breathing techniques, it's time to put them into practice. At Reconnct we host daily ice baths in Playa del Carmen. Come join us!

An ice bath may sound scary, but the truth is, lots of people come to our ice baths and are pleasantly surprised. Our group breathing exercises help us coregulate, as well as connect individuals with their bodies and heart rates. Plus, the techniques raise our body temperatures, so it actually makes the ice easier!

If you'd like to delve further into ice baths and breathwork, then sign up for our course in Playa Del Carmen today. We'll give you the skills and tools to pass valuable knowledge on to others.

We hope you liked this blog post on 'Ice Bath Breathing Techniques'

If you enjoyed reading, make sure to read our other blog topics!


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