Blog: Dynamic breathwork and cold water immersion

Published 31 Jan 2023
Written by
Stewart Codling
Thames Valley Police
Reading time
10 mins

In this blog by Stewart Codling from Thames Valley Police Stewart talks about the dynamic breathwork and cold water immersion courses he has been running on behalf of a small police charity called The Curtis Palmer Program.

In early 2021 The Curtis Palmer Program began a collaboration with The Breath Connection and to date has supported more than 300 police officers and police staff through physical injury, illness and poor mental health. Whether suffering from PTSD, depression, anxiety or physical injuries, those participating in the course have found the combination of dynamic breathwork and cold water therapy has made a real impact on how they feel both mentally and physically.

So why does this therapy work?

Breathing exercises, meditation, calming words of experience and a significant amount of understanding from The Breath Connection followed by cold water immersion encourages participants to discuss their own journeys through PTSD, physical trauma and a variety of mental health issues. 

Our courses bring people together in beautiful and peaceful surroundings to participate in mindfulness exercises. We have held physically challenging activity weekends and life-changing challenges, including a trip to Norway to kayak along the beautiful but cold fjords. Throughout these events we are continually testing and pushing individuals to their limits whilst supporting them through any emotional trauma that is triggered and working through the healing process one step at a time.


The sense of togetherness on our courses has been great to see, these individuals had never met before yet by the end of the course they were working as a team and had built a real bond. 

Feedback demonstrates the course is having a significant positive impact on those attending. For example, on a recent course those who selected ‘often’ and ‘all of the time’ for, I’m feeling optimistic about the future, increased from 19% pre course to 74% post course. Similarly, for those feeling relaxed, it jumped from 12% pre course to 58% post course; and I’m dealing with problems well, rose from 31% pre course to 78% post course. Here's what some of those taking part had to say:

Awesome session today, I feel so lucky to be part of this group.

Tough week last week, being able to talk with my husband about how low I’d been was such a positive, I wouldn’t have been able to if I hadn’t felt safe to talk with you guys.

I am lucky to live near the sea, do sea dips for some of my cold water immersion, so good for the soul and I’m loving it!

Today I managed 10 mins of running and a short spin session doing all nasal breathing, was surprised how relaxed I felt when running.

I am delighted that the Force Wellbeing Team at Thames Valley Police are running a 12 week programme across their force starting in February 2023.  The initiative is funded through the TVP Wellbeing Budget, and will be available to every member of the force to take part, not just individuals who are struggling giving everyone the opportunity to try this technique.  This will hopefully enable individuals to use the dynamic breathwork and cold water immersion techniques as a preventative coping mechanism which should in turn increase their resilience.  

Who we are

The Curtis Palmer Program is a small police run charity, led by a serving officer Inspector Damien Isherwood and assisted by a few including myself. It was launched as an emergency services branch of a military charity to support a serving police officer, Curtis Palmer from Dorset Police.

Curtis was in his late 20s when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour but wanted to do a parachute jump as part of his “bucket list.” The charity organised a wonderful day where Curtis completed his parachute jump in front of friends and family. Sadly shortly after Curtis passed away. The Curtis Palmer Program was formed as a living testament to Curtis’s humour, selflessness and inspirational bravery.

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The Breath Connection is all about bringing back your zest for life. We work with you to combat those stress levels and to help you feel more grounded and at peace from the inside out. The Breath Connection advocates conscious breathing, cold water therapy, meditation and the power of living in the moment. Their sessions combine these practices to help you find harmony with the breath and get back in touch with your body, mind and soul. 

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