Experience : the Breath | Hot | Cold workshop
January 2023 will have officially marked the return of events at Bota Bota. A nod to New-Year’s resolutions, these events promise our passengers great moments of encounter with their body, their mind, the virtues of the water circuit and its hot, cold, relaxation.
Sébastien Zappa: one method at a time
Sébastien Zappa, PHD, has been teaching conscious breathing and exposure to cold since 2018. His teachings are mainly based on the REBO2T, Oxygen Advantage and Wim Hof® methods, which he received from their respective founders. Accompanied by his handpan instrument, his approach is accessible to as many people as possible.
One of the guests on the second season of the Bota Bota podcast, Anchor Point, it was then that I first got to know him. Repeatedly affected by very serious anxiety attacks and burnout, Sébastien converted to the field of conscious breathing to improve his life and that of others.
The water circuit, a relationship that lasts
I’ve never been good with cold temperatures. Summer or winter, my extremities are always a little colder than normal and I am known among my group of friends to be the one who will always be the most covered in the winter. Three layers of clothing are always the minimum that will be found on my body during an outing.
Since my arrival at Bota Bota however, I’ve surprised myself by learning how to appreciate the three stages of the water circuit, especially the cold one, more and more. The Hot, cold and relaxation stages are inseparable, and combined they offer one of the most intense relaxations I have ever enjoyed in my life. I am now avidly on the lookout for a sauna whenever I go somewhere, and a cold shower afterwards. Nothing better after a sports activity!
Breath | Hot | Cold, the workshop at Bota Bota
I was lucky to try Sébastien’s first class, the Breath | Hot | Cold workshop at Bota Bota last January. I was very curious, although somewhat fearing a total immersion in cold water for several minutes in the heart of winter. However, I was ready to overcome this challenge.
The first part of the workshop took place in the relaxation room in the gardens. It is a place made up of wooden slat walls and large bay windows directly overlooking the baths. The perfect place to feel warm, protected from the snowstorm outside.
During this hour, Sébastien first taught the group different breathing methods, according to different needs. That of relaxing, for example, during a stressful situation one that can be found in our daily lives, or that of concentrating during a situation that demands a lot from us, in order to energize us over a certain period. To the sound of his handpan, we learned to listen to our body and train our breathing. Between theory and practice, we were treated to a glimpse of a useful and effective practice.
The last half hour was devoted to 15 minutes in the Gardens sauna. As a rigorous and intelligent instructor, Sébastien made us repeat several exercises, to prepare us for the exposure to the cold, which was going to be intense. As a little bonus, he also taught us a trick that helps the body cool down in a hot environment, Sitali Pranayama. Very useful method, to be used in a sauna, or even during the summer in very hot weather!
The chapter of the cold presented itself by two minutes in the snow. This portion of the workshop can be done in cold baths, but the few degrees that can vary in the water make a big difference to the experience. 1 minute on the back, 1 minute on the stomach, we actively used a breathing method to accustom our body to the extreme cold.
We then all found ourselves in the relaxation room, welcomed by our bathrobes and a hot tea. As Sébastien explained, despite returning to a warm room, the body continues to cool down. Therefore, it is important to drink a hot drink after an exposure such as this to the cold, in order to warm up from the inside.
A useful everyday experience
It was with a smile on their face, invigorated and energized, that the participants continued their experience of the water circuit. I remain for my part, still very cautious towards cold temperatures, but I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the breathing methods learned that day will have been very useful to me in the weeks that followed.
Prendre soin de soi, c’est aussi négocier avec justesse les moments où notre corps réclame une attention toute particulière. Des ateliers comme celui-ci nous suggèrent un regard nouveau sur les options simples qui s’offrent à nous, dans un quotidien demandant en émotions.
Taking care of yourself also means accurately negotiating the times when our body requires special attention. Workshops like this one suggest a new look at the simple options available to us, in a daily life filled with demanding emotions.