Leah Scott: (Re)discover your inner wild self
Meet Leah. Snowy Mountains guide, Wim Hof method instructor, breathwork specialist, extreme cold tolerance practitioner, mom of two boys and an amazingly strong badass.
After separating from her ex-husband, she won her the battle over stress, anxiety, depression and sleeping issues. Now she helps others to get out of their comfort zone, push their own limits and improve their health and wellbeing.
Moving into the Snowy Mountains a few years ago, she walks the talk. You can find her hiking the snowy treks just in her top or swimming in icy Thredbo river.
Do you remember your first experience with cold water? How did it feel?
My first cold shower back in 2016. It was very vocal actually. I won’t go too much into detail but let’s say there may have been a scream, some swearing, that it lasted about 45 seconds, but once it was over I felt present and strong. My fogginess was gone, and I had a deep sense that I knew I had found a tool that would change my life.
How has your life changed after that?
I did it every day to combat my extreme anxiety and depression after my divorce. After just 4 days I was sleeping 7-9 hours a night. I became very focused and was able to get my life together quickly. I built confidence within my inner state, observing how my mind and body would react in such a difficult situation. I used the cold water to build resilience and flexibility within my nervous system. The challenges that life would throw me became much easier to handle. After a year of practice, I knew Australia needed to know about this technique, so I became a Wim Hof Method Instructor. I have been blessed with not only passing my way of life on to the Aussies who fill my retreats and workshops but also the world - Asia, Europe and in March the USA.
Image: Leah Scott
You are helping others to (re)discover their inner wild self. You organise retreats, workshops and alpine backcountry adventures. You do coaching to improve people’s wellbeing and help them to push the limits of their body and mind. What is it that keeps you going? What do you love most about it?
Empowering humans to re-discover their happiness, strength, and health is incredibly fulfilling.
Back in 2016, I was in a terribly bad space mentally after my divorce. It was rock bottom, I was avoiding leaving the house and am not sure if I would be around if it wasn’t for my two boys at the time. To go from that mindset to completely the opposite in just a few days without the use of pharmaceuticals is something people need to know about. This is something else that won’t stop driving me.
I was the fittest person at the time, my diet was healthy, but the kale smoothie or salad bowl just wasn’t helping my mental state.
Breathwork and swimming in the icy rivers have changed every aspect of my life. It taught me about myself, how to take control of my mind and body. To be the driver and not the passenger. To be aware of my thoughts, emotions and feelings, with a clear understanding that I do not have to become them. I am in charge, my monkey mind is not. What is not to love about all of that.
Do you have any tips on how to start with cold therapy when you are a complete beginner?
Have your warm shower as you normally would and turn it cold. You can put your arms in first, then your legs to make it easier. Then step into it, with the water hitting your back up on your neck. It may take your breath away, so breathe with long exhales - this calms your heart rate. Start off with 10 seconds and build your way up to a couple of minutes. Be proud of yourself, every time for achieving such a difficult thing.
Image: Leah Scott
Practising breathing and cold therapy have a positive impact on our physical and mental health. But what to do when we feel stressed or anxious at work or at home with kids and no time for a cold shower?
Breathwork is a very powerful tool for us to connect ourselves to the body. When our awareness is on our breath, it is out of our mind. I suggest practising the Wim Hof Method breathing technique in the morning when you first wake up (download the app). This will calm your nervous system and mind for the day. It will also make you conscious of how you’re breathing through the day, enabling you to practice ‘real time’ breathing techniques. My favourite at the moment is a double inhale followed by a long exhale - this will rebalance your oxygen and carbon dioxide levels after about one minute. No one will know you’re doing it.
Making this practice a commitment, you will be blown away at how quickly it changes your mental state. Peace, patients, and calmness are incredibly important when raising young children. If you struggle with commitment, and can’t always do it for yourself, do it for them.
Seeing images of you and your students hiking in snow half naked looks wild, free and sooo cool! Honestly, aren’t you cold? :)
Haha, thank you! I train them for just two days before the hike using breathwork and cold water immersion as the catalysts to tap into the power of the mind. They have an understanding, a deep knowing that they can use their minds to control their bodies. They do the work, which isn’t easy for most. The training involves releasing emotion, trauma from the nervous system that we store in our bodies from birth. It can be emotionally exhausting, painful. For most, it completely changes their lives, that in itself takes time to process.
I try to teach them to rethink negative labelled emotions. There’s a great deal of ignorance towards suffering, adversity and tragedy. We’re taught to avoid it, hide from it, fear it. But if we can transcend it, it carries a great potential for spiritual awakening, a complete transformation and evolution from the old self.
Image: Leah Scott
What is your morning routine? How do you start your day?
Great question. I start off with 3-5 rounds of Wim Hof Method Breathwork followed by a mediation each morning. I am currently dealing with a whiplash injury. Still, I would usually do yoga, a run or spend an hour in the gym followed by a few minutes plunge in the icy Thredbo River. I am now ready to have the most optimal day possible.
Thank you so much for your time, Leah! Just one last question; What are your next plans?
I have two retreats in October and a few private retreats booked in for this month. I am the only person in Australia that hikes people up Mount Kosciuszko in their shorts, and it’s proving to be very popular. Over the coming months, I will start my workshops over the country again (or just NSW and ACT). If anyone would like me to facilitate a retreat or workshop, they can jump on to my socials and send me a message.
Image: Leah Scott
If you got inspired and feel like you would like to taste this amazing icy adventure you can find more information about Leah’s work and her upcoming workshops and retreats at: https://www.leahscott.net/.