If you’re like us and finished Netflix then you would have seen Gwyneth Paltrow’s series The Goop Lab which was derived from her blog called GOOP (which is epic, we’ve linked it here). There are some amazing stories on the series though one impacted us more than the others and that was a story on a man called Wim Hoff who for decades has been practicing self-development techniques called the Wim Hoff Method, which includes steps like meditation, cold exposure and specialised breathing techniques. The stella girls’ interests were peaked and we wanted to see who had undertaken the training in Australia (did someone say team bonding getaway?!) and we went to the place every good investigator does, Instagram, and we found Leah Scott from Wild Things Anatomy whose story was to epic not to share.
Leah is a Wim Hof method instructor, a breathwork specialist, extreme cold tolerance practitioner and mother of two.
Since 2016 Leah has based herself in the Snowy Mountains of NSW and knows the Australian Alps like the back of her hand. She championed women’s health by helping women to improve their health and wellbeing by reconnecting them to nature and helping them discover their inner wild thing. Leah creating the world’s first Wim Hof Method retreat for women and now runs her own Wild Things Anatomy Retreats which also offers youth sessions, mountain guided hikes, mentoring and life coaching. Leah is the epitome of what a Stella woman should be, fearless and free! We sat down with Leah with a hot chocolate in hand to see where her love of the outdoors and cold came from, check it out below.
Where did your love of breathwork and cold extreme cold training come from?
After separating from my husband back in 2015 my entire world changed overnight. I was physically and mentally broken. Depression, anxiety, panic attacks and poor sleep where the norm. I wanted to escape, to run and not stop. This led me through a doorway so to speak, into investigating and experimenting on my mind and body. After 20 minutes of the Wim Hof Method breathwork I came out feeling calm, at peace, serene and incredibly euphoric. My first cold shower was quite intense, but it made me feel present and strong. For the first time in a long time, my fogginess was gone.
What made you want to teach others?
After a year of practicing breathwork and swimming daily in the icy Thredbo River, I felt bulletproof. I was not only calmer and more peaceful within, but I felt strong, alert and fully present. I understood how my mind worked in stressful situations and how to take back control. My sleeping problems, anxiety and depression and the sense of control fear had over me, were washed away in that fast-flowing water. Spending time in nature in this way, and what it gives me, is something that I want all humans to feel and have.
What does a typical day in your week look like?
I wake at 5am and do 5 rounds of breathwork followed by meditation. I go for a run or yoga class and drive down to the river where I spend a few minutes floating in the icy waters. Thanks to science, we know that through this practice, we release a great deal of dopamine and noradrenaline which are responsible for focus and attention, are natural anti-depressants and help to improve blood flow throughout the body. This morning routine gets me ready to conquer my day, which usually consists of hours of computer work! I’m continually improving my events, promoting what I do, coaching online, writing articles and mentoring.
What is the most rewarding thing about teaching breathwork?
People have a powerful experience straightaway. For most people they see lights and colours. The experience can be everything from incredibly calming and blissful to cathartic and euphoric. Retreats are incredibly special as it gives participants three days to dive deep within themselves, reconnect with their mind and body, release stored emotions and really step beyond their limiting beliefs. It’s an opportunity for very deep transformations to take place.
We see you do Women Only retreats, what was your motivation behind that?
It’s an incredibly different dynamic. We women are powerful, radiant goddesses and sacred feminine beings, but I see that so many have not truly felt this yet.
I wanted to create a safe, accepting and trusting environment for women to release and express both their struggles and desires, while being challenged mentally and physically, to break through this pre-conceived notion that we must be timid and that we’re weak.
What is your favourite quote and why?
“Between stimulus and response there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom” – Victor Frankl
This is an incredibly wise quote. That SPACE. A moment in time of complete awareness. Calmness, stillness. Power to recalibrate, decide, accept and respond.
It implies that people often react without thinking. But how do we create that SPACE in our own lives? For me it has been by using the cold and my breath. Tools to create conscious awareness.
The cold is a powerful stimulus to get to know oneself. I can observe my response to it, a difficult situation. With commitment I have been able to change my response to it, building resilience. Breathwork and meditation allows me to disconnect from what is going on around me so I can make a deeper connection with my body, mind and spirit.
My breathwork and cold exposure practice has helped me grow immensely and given me a life of freedom.
What do you love most about the Stella Brand?
I love the fact that this is a new car insurance brand that has been geared towards women by women. It’s refreshing to see a brand thinking about what women (and mothers!) want and need. It’s also great to see that Stella supports female-led businesses with its StellaSquad. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of such an exciting brand changing the normal beige and quite sterile insurance game. It’s exciting times ahead.
What’s next for you in 2020 and beyond?
Over the coming months I have a Women Only Wim Hof Method Retreat, a Youth Retreat (for children 15-19) and two mixed Wim Hof Method Retreats in October. I’m also taking private retreats where I guide people up Mt Kosciuszko in nothing but their shorts! I’ve had a lot of interest from football players, cross fitters and athletes, keen to take on this advanced adventure.