How to Perform Breathing Procedures when Using the Best Cold Plunge

Timothy Munene Timothy Munene
How to Perform Breathing Procedures when Using the Best Cold Plunge

Proper breathing is crucial and can transform your cold plunging experience from torment to enjoyment. While immersing yourself in the best cold plunge can sound easy, it triggers complex physiological responses.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to perform breathing procedures before, during, and after cold plunging. But first, which responses do cold plunge-related breathing procedures induce? Let’s find out. 

Vagus Nerve Stimulation

Immersing yourself in the best cold plunge can stimulate the vagus nerve, which may reduce the heart rate and generate a state of relaxation. Regulated breathing can promote stimulation of the vagus nerve intensifying this calming effect. 

Release of Endorphins and Pain Perception

The first shock you feel after entering your best cold plunge tub can be painful. However, regulated breathing can help you cope. When practicing a particular breathing procedure your body could release endorphins, also known as natural painkillers. These endorphins help minimize the discomfort you feel during cold plunging.

Thermal Homeostasis

Usually, the body strives to maintain a steady internal temperature and cold plunging can halter this balance, prompting the body to generate heat. Mastering the art of breathing can facilitate this process. For example, taking rapid, deep breaths as explained in the Wim Hof method can increase metabolic rate, generating a feeling of internal warmth and countering some of the effects of the cold water. 

Oxygen Saturation

Taking deep breaths during cold plunging helps your lungs absorb more oxygen and transfer it into the bloodstream. Oxygen plays a vital role in cellular function. The higher the oxygen levels are, the more your tissues and muscles can endure the cold water shock better. Remember, oxygen-rich blood can handle stressors better, and accelerate recovery after exposure to cold water. 

Stress Response Modulation

When exposed to cold water, the body’s initial response is to commence the flight or fight response, a survival process. This response accelerates breathing, increases heart rate, and prompts a rise in stress hormones such as cortisol.

Regulating your breathing consciously helps prevent some of these responses. Taking deliberate yet slow breaths can soothe the sympathetic nervous system, reduce anxiety, promote relaxation, and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. 

It is worth mentioning that the connection between cold plunging and breathwork doesn’t revolve around managing the initial cold water shock. It also involves optimizing the body’s response to maximize your benefits from the experience. Regulated breathing is beneficial for a successful cold plunging session. Here are steps to help you master the art of performing breathing procedures when ice bathing in the best cold plunge.

How to Perform Box Breathing Inside the Best Cold Plunge

Also known as square breathing, this breathing procedure is powerful but simple. It’s ideal for soothing the mind while regulating the breathing pattern of your body. To perform it:

  • Identify a comfortable position and lie or sit down
  • Breath in through your nose slowly for 4 seconds and strive to fill your lungs gently but completely
  • Hold your breath for 4 seconds while ensuring your body is relaxed as you pause
  • Exhale slowly through your mouth for four seconds to expel the air from your lungs
  • Hold your breath again for four seconds
  • Repeat these steps until you feel more centered and relaxed

How to Conduct Diaphragmatic Breathing

Also known as belly breathing, this procedure aims to engage the diaphragm during breathing to reinforce and promote deeper and more efficient breaths. It’s ideal for lowering blood pressure, reducing anxiety, and enhancing the stability of the core muscle. To conduct it:

  • Lie on a flat, comfortable surface with your head supported and knees bent. 
  • Position one hand below your rib cage and the other on your upper chest
  • Inhale slowly through your nose and ensure your stomach moves up against your hand while the hand on your chest remains still
  • Slowly exhale through pursed lips as you tighten your muscles. Ensure the hand on your belly moves as you exhale while the other remains still
  • Repeat these steps for between five and ten minutes, maintain a steady breath rhythm, and strive to move your diaphragm

How to Perform the Wim Hof Method Before Entering the Best Cold Plunge

To execute this breathing procedure lie or sit down in a comfortable disturbance-free area. Make sure your body is fully relaxed

  • Embark on a breath cycle, starting with 30-40 deep breaths. Fully inhale through the nose or mouth and exhale freely but not entirely. Allow air to flow out naturally. Remember, chances are that you will experience tingling sensations or light-headedness, which is normal
  • After your final exhale, try and hold your breath for as long as you can. You’ll manage to hold your breath longer than you usually do as a result of oxygenation from deep breaths.
  • Once you get the longing to breathe again, inhale deeply and hold for between 10 to 15 seconds before exhaling
  • Repeat these steps for 3 to 4 rounds and listen to your body to ensure you don’t force the exercise beyond your comfort

Worth mentioning is that you should practice the Wim Hof breathing procedure cautiously as it’s quite powerful. 

Here are some breathing tips to help you during and after your cold immersion session.

Best Cold Plunge: Incorporating Breathing During The Cold Plunging Session

Once you immerse yourself inside your best cold plunge, it’s important to inhale fully and then pause to control your heart rate and promote circulation. One of the terms used to define this breathing phase is Valsalva Maneuver, which means generating intrathoracic pressure by holding your breath or pushing against a closed airway.

The Valsalva Maneuver creates space in your chest to enable your heart to beat more easily. Besides relaxing the cerebral blood flow, it pushes it to the body’s extremities. Remember to avoid doing heavy breath holds while inside the water. Instead, you can use diaphragmatic engagement to generate intrathoracic pressure.

Exhale Deeply for longer to Reduce Your Heart Rate

A long exhale lowers your heart rate while calming you down during your cold water exposure session inside our best cold plunges. While breathing in raises your heart rate, breathing out slows it down. Avoid breathing in slowly when you are hungry for air. Exhale by seizing the air inside your mouth and releasing it slowly through your teeth. A little mouth tension will enable you to deflate without using too much energy. 

Combine Rapid Breaths and Slow Breaths to Warm Up

If you shive after leaving your best cold plunge take a few rapid breaths followed by slow breaths to warm up. Tummo practitioners who could endure very low temperatures for longer used fast and slow breathing simultaneously. Fast breathing speeds up your heart rate, warming your intercostal muscles.

Combining it with physical movement produces better results. But when carbon dioxide becomes too low due to fast breathing, you’ll likely suffer a vascular constriction. In this case, slow breaths will help you build carbon dioxide to facilitate vascular dilation and ensure warm blood circulates efficiently. 


Immersing yourself in the best cold plunge can be a refreshing journey that tests the resilience and adaptation of your body. Combining cold water immersion with deliberate breathwork procedures helps you improve your mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Intense, cooling, and calming breathing procedures can prepare you to overcome complex mental and physical challenges. Further, mastering these procedures prepares your nervous system before, during, and after dipping yourself inside the best cold plunge. 

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