We then went on to practise some intense Wim Hof style breathing along with some CO2 tables common in the world of freediving apnea (breath-holding). Unsurprisingly, my breath-hold time (1 minute 36 seconds) was a lot shorter than a week or so prior. You’re CO2 sensitivity generally increases just before and sometimes during your period due to the rising of progesterone, a respiratory stimulant, in the build-up to your period and then the depletion of both oestrogen and progesterone during your period. When you hold your breath, CO2 rises in the lungs and the blood, the more sensitive you are to it, the shorter your breath hold time will be and for women, breath-hold times and BOLT scores (Body oxygen level test) can vary throughout the cycle depending on your unique hormonal rhythm.
Post theory, it was time for us to jump into the cold! (literally) I had my first experience of Avanto, a Finnish tradition consisting of a hole in the ice of a frozen body of water, in our case the Baltic Sea, that you lower yourself into and well, chill. The group vibe was a huge help here, everyone was dancing around in their shorts and cheering each other on. First-round we stayed in there for around 30 seconds and on the second go I was in there for about 3 minutes, following Leigh’s instructions to “stay calm and breathe deep” Post dip I strangely didn’t feel cold at all, I was more loving goofing around in the snow in my underwear with my five new Finnish friends. There was a method behind this madness though. Leigh emphasised the importance of regulating our temperature after being exposed to extreme cold. We had to keep moving to allow blood to keep flowing and for our systems to adjust to the temperature shift, all whilst practising those deep Wim Hof breaths we’d practised in the warm* studio we’d just come from.
Overall, it was a brilliant day with intermittent dark chocolate (necessary) and Leigh’s knowledge and storytellings of his journey into the cold making “every mistake there is to make” as he put it, was awe-inspiring.