Cold Water – do you dare? A refreshing article from IPA Slovenia

10 Mar 2021

hile some people are trying to keep warm in their thick coats and woollen hats, others are getting ready for a cold refreshment. Amongst them is an IPA member, the president of IPA Slovenia’s Regional Club Postojna, Stanislav Šajn. We asked him to present us some of the benefits of winter diving in cold water.water3

“All my life I enjoyed challenging myself. Coldness is nowadays a substantial fear, although our parents spent most of their time walking around barefoot, living in much colder temperatures, and our mothers and grandmothers used to wash clothes in frozen rivers.

Three years ago, I could not attend the new year’s dive in the sea due to work obligations. Thus, I decided to release some of the stress by jumping in Lake Cerknica by myself. I read a bit about cold water swimming on the internet, realised that it is nothing dangerous for humans, and besides, thousands of people around the world practice it. So, I grabbed my swimming trunks, towel and off I went. I also took a heart rate monitor to observe how my heart would react to such a shock.

My son went with me so that I was not going there by myself. I broke a little bit of ice, put my swimming trunks on in the snow, and was interested to see if I could survive! The first two dives were successful. The first time I spent about one minute in the water, then walked a bit and returned for another two minutes of diving. My heart rate was up to 130, similar to completing an easy run. After I  had warmed up again, I felt euphoric, excited and happy.

The first dive led me to do some research and I came across Emil Ledenko, who already knew a lot about this and was spreading his knowledge around Slovenia. We arranged a short meeting, and I began visiting the valley of Kamniška Bistrica. Regular breathing exercises and showering with cold water became a daily habit.

My body’s response was great; better regeneration after training, a better mood, and it became easier to deal with stress at work, which is occasionally overwhelming.

This method is nowadays known as the Wim Hof method, as Wim Hof connected the old Tibetan and yogic methods, from Tummo meditation and Pranayama – various breathing techniques and holding breath, into a simple method, that anyone can learn in a few days and enjoy. If desired, one can also travel deeper, closer to oneself.

In the last three years, and especially now during the "corona times“, we discovered local sources of cold water, because even in summer time, when the temperature of open water is above 10 or 20 degrees Celsius, we can find natural sources, pools, where we can enjoy the interaction with oneself and nature at 8 or less degrees.

water2Yes, for the majority of “normal” people this is difficult to imagine. However, if we allow ourselves to step out of our comfort zone, which mostly means sitting on a couch, and temperatures between 20 and 28 degrees, and when we are out of this range, we immediately use air conditioners, heaters …, nature and our body can award us with better physical and mental health. The breathing technique itself and then meditation in cold water initiate many healthy processes in the body – we fuel our body with oxygen to the last cell, use up the accumulated cortisol, which is known as a quiet killer, and other stress hormones, while releasing dopamine, serotonin, and other positive hormones, which help with healing the body and anti-ageing. 

In addition, as a member of a group for psychological help in the Police, as police advisor, I see this method as a tool that can lead an individual to deal better with their stressful profession and thus improve their overall health.

Our movement became well known, “Ledena družina in Pingvini (Frozen Family and Penguins)”, we are often mentioned in various media, our friend Emil Ledenko is carrying out seminars, and we are spread all over Slovenia. There are also more and more IPA friends attending our dives; plus I noticed on social media that these healthy methods are practiced by an increasing number of IPA members, also elsewhere in Europe and around the world.

Over the past three years, many like-minded individuals have joined, with whom we are discovering the nature around us as “Notranjski pingvini”: waterfalls, lakes, searching for health in nature and within ourselves. We are aware that in the first place we are the ones responsible for our health and aside from our physical health, with healthier food, we are also improving our health at all levels, “mens sana in corpore sano”.

Stanislav Šajn, IPA Slovenia