In the pursuit of optimal health and well-being, individuals are increasingly turning to holistic approaches that tap into the body’s innate capacity to heal and thrive. Two practices gaining considerable attention for their transformative effects are breathwork and ice baths. 

On Saturday 25th November at Billabong Retreat we hosted our first breath and ice event, ‘Cold & Centred’ with facilitator Tanya Savva. Guests delved into the fascinating world of these practices, explored their benefits and learned why they have become integral components of many people’s health and wellness routines.


Breathwork: The Gateway to Mind-Body Harmony

Breathwork is a mindful practice that involves intentional control and manipulation of the breath. It is a holistic approach to breathing that goes beyond the automatic, unconscious process of simply inhaling and exhaling. By engaging in specific breathing patterns, individuals can positively influence their mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

One popular form of breathwork is deep diaphragmatic breathing, where the focus is on slow, deliberate breaths that engage the diaphragm. This technique activates the body’s relaxation response, reducing stress and promoting a sense of calm. The benefits of incorporating breathwork into your daily routine are numerous:

  • Stress Reduction: Conscious breathing helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, signaling to the body that it is safe to relax. This can significantly reduce stress levels.
  • Improved Mental Clarity: Breathwork enhances oxygenation to the brain, leading to improved cognitive function, mental clarity, and increased focus.
  • Enhanced Emotional Well-being: Practicing breathwork can help regulate emotions, reduce anxiety, and contribute to a more positive mood.
  • Better Sleep: Deep breathing before bedtime can promote relaxation, making it easier to fall asleep and enjoy a more restful night.
  • Increased Energy: By optimising oxygen intake, breathwork provides a natural energy boost, revitalising both body and mind.


Ice Baths: Embracing the Healing Power of Cold

On the opposite end of the spectrum, ice baths or cold water immersion involve exposing the body to extremely cold temperatures for a short duration. While the idea of voluntarily subjecting oneself to icy water may seem daunting, the benefits are compelling and have been embraced by athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and those seeking holistic wellness.

  • Muscle Recovery: One of the primary reasons athletes swear by ice baths is their ability to expedite muscle recovery. The cold temperature reduces inflammation and muscle soreness, helping the body bounce back more quickly after intense physical activity.
  • Improved Circulation: Cold water immersion triggers vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels) followed by vasodilation (expansion of blood vessels) when the body warms up again. This process enhances blood circulation, promoting cardiovascular health.
  • Pain Relief: The numbing effect of cold water can provide immediate relief from pain, making ice baths effective for managing joint pain and certain injuries.
  • Enhanced Immune Function: Exposure to cold stimulates the production of white blood cells and other immune system components, potentially strengthening the immune system over time.
  • Mental Resilience: Enduring the shock of cold water can build mental toughness, resilience, and a sense of accomplishment, contributing to improved mental well-being.

*Cold Immersion Contraindications; Blood vessel problems such as Raynaud’s, Cryoglobulinemia, Paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria (PCH), Cold urticaria, Epilepsy, Venous stasis dermatitis, Peripheral Neuropathy, If you have heart, blood pressure or circulatory issues seek medical advice to determine your safety to participate.


The Synergy of Breathwork and Ice Baths:

When combined, breathwork and ice baths create a powerful synergy that enhances overall health. Preparing the mind through intentional breathing can help individuals enter an ice bath with a focused and calm mindset, maximising the therapeutic benefits of both practices.

Billabong Retreat owner Paul von Bergen uses ice baths as part of his wellness routine. 

“You learn how to experience an intense physical sensation and stay calm and grounded. You do this by using your breath to self-regulate,” said Paul.

The integration of breathwork and ice baths into your routine can be a game-changer for your health and well-being. As with any new wellness practice, it’s essential to start gradually and listen to your body. The journey to holistic health often begins with simple, intentional practices that empower you to tap into your body’s incredible capacity for healing and vitality.

The ‘Cold & Centred’ Retreat is part of the Billabong Retreat Specialist Day offering. For more information about our Specialist Day Retreats click here.