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I tried Fire and Ice at Mountain Yoga and I might be becoming a cold-water convert

‘Here we go again’ I thought as I stared into the plunge pool surrounded by stunning scenery at Mountain Yoga in Taff’s Well just outside of Cardiff. I’m about to try something I would never rush to ever do, which is willingly go into cold water.

Earlier this year, in the much chillier temperatures of March, I tried cold-water dipping at Lisvane and Llanishen reservoir, which you can read all about here. While I came away with a huge sense of achievement and a much better understanding of why people willingly do it I did say I wouldn’t be rushing back.

And while I didn’t exactly rush to try Fire and Ice at Mountain Yoga I was intrigued. Having already dipped my toe in the cold water experience at Lisvane and Llanishen reservoir I was curious about Fire and Ice – the fire part suggested that surely some of it had to be warm. Right?

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And it was WARM – but it was also COLD. Fire and Ice is the ultimate fusion of hot and cold rejuvenation meaning you get to experience both heat and cold therapy. During the two-hour session you switch from a hot pod tent, which is absolutely boiling at 60 degrees, to a cold-water plunge pool which is absolutely freezing.

Let me tell you the hot pod tent is hot and this isn’t just sauna at a spa level hot – this is boiling hot. This is stepping off a plane in Greece while wearing thermal layers and a woolly hat hot. Find out about the latest events in Wales by signing up to our What’s On newsletter here.

It was HOT in the tent(Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)

To start you spend time in the hot pod tent and this was the hottest part of the experience. You are guided through what will happen in the session and taught that although many people breathe out their mouth the best way to breathe is just through your nose.

Sweat was dripping off me, and to my relief, all the other participants and the instructor. It was so hot in there to the point that although it is a bit gross you are leaving puddles of sweat on the floor and I couldn’t believe I was eyeing up the tent door and looking at the freezing cold plunge pool.

The first dip is only 30 seconds and while breathing is mentioned to you before you go in the best techniques aren’t explained yet. This dip is to teach you about your flight or fight response and mine was definitely flight.

The second I entered the plunge pool, I won’t lie, I wanted to get out. ‘Why am I doing this again?’ I thought. ‘I KNOW I don’t like cold water. I really don’t need to keep doing this to myself.’

It was so cold in the pool(Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)

Deciding that my inner monologue was very negative and not actually helping I forced myself to focus on my breathing and staring at the camera with our grinning photographer who accompanied me for my previous dip stood behind. Thankfully the 30 seconds were up quite quickly and I jumped out of the pool as fast as possible.

Then it was back into the hot pod tent where the heat was a very welcome relief, and initially no way as uncomfortable, and we learnt more about our breathing. I was enjoying the heat of the hot pod tent. This was better than my previous dip where it was just back to the changing rooms and, during the whole experience, I learnt a lot about my breathing.

Taking in everything from adopting a confident pose, to help you feel more confident even if you don’t really feel it, to breathing through your nose and focusing on expanding and releasing your diaphragm, to slowly moving your neck and gentle stretches, I really felt the stress slipping away. It was so easy to focus on everything the instructor was saying in the hot pod tent. All the normal day stresses became irrelevant and I just focused on the task at hand – being able to get back into the icy water.

After a session in the tent it was back to the water but this time for one minute. This time, and solely focusing on my breathing and banishing all negative thoughts from my mind, it was easier. The water didn’t feel quite so cold and it suddenly became a lot more bearable.

‘Was I actually enjoying this?’ I thought to myself. Back to the tent for more breathing before tackling two minutes in the pool. This pattern continued until the final step where you do four minutes in the pool.

To get us totally warmed up for four minutes we danced in the tent while chanting Wim Hof mantras and I couldn’t help but get the giggles as a bunch of strangers, who had never met each other before, chanted to Wim Hof before getting into a freezing plunge pool.

It wasn’t something I would ever thought I would do and – I hate to say it – is maybe something I would have scoffed at previously. But here I was, loving it, feeling the benefits and wanting to prove to myself I could do it.

And do it I did. I managed the four minutes in the pool and even felt relaxed. On my first couple of goes in the pool I mostly kept my eyes firmly shut – somehow that helped.

To start with I kept my eyes shut(Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)

But really, by doing this, I was missing out on the stunning views that Mountain Yoga offers of the Garth Mountain and surrounding areas. During my last four minutes in the pool I had my eyes open, enjoying watching a paraglider also making the most of the glorious weather, and was bobbing my head along to the music playing.

With the amazing scenery and the fact the water is from a freshwater spring in the area you also feel totally connected to nature – especially on this very sunny day. Want fewer ads? Download WalesOnline’s Premium app on Apple or Android.

Was I actually enjoying the cold water? Yes! Am I a total convert? Still no. After the four minutes and one last time in the hot pod tent you had the choice to enter the pool, with an ice lolly, to see how long you could last if you wanted to.

Was I actually smiling by the end of the session?(Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)

I opted out of this – I had done enough cold water for the day, knew my limits, and was proud of everything I had done. So no I am not a total cold water convert but I have so much more appreciation for it.

It really is rejuvenating and stress-releasing and – I can’t believe I am saying this – at times enjoyable. I can confidently say I would go cold-water dipping again, especially with the hot pod tent involved, and I 100% recommend the Fire and Ice experience as you get a lot out of it and are guided through by expert and very lovely instructors. You can find out more about Fire and Ice here.

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