Wim Hof, the Dutch eccentric, has made breathing part of his daily existence. I am not talking breathing to stay alive, he practices his own Wim Hof Method (WHM). It is basically a controlled version of hyperventilation with deep rhythmic inhalations and exhalations. These are followed by holding your breath for a certain amount of time. He has assured us (and I have tried it so know it to be true!) that by doing this you release more energy, influencing your nervous system and change various physiological responses.
What Are the Benefits of the Wim Hof Method?
The WHM also encourages cold therapy and training your mindset. Combined with the breathing the benefits can be amazing! His method is linked to reducing symptoms of various diseases such as MS, Parkinson’s, asthma, arthritis, vasculitis and several autoimmune diseases. Surely its worth a try then? The benefits also include stress reduction, better sleep, improved sports performance, greater focus and faster recovery from exertion.
Of course, you can’t just heal yourself by breathing.
However, Wim Hof has been tested by various Medical Universities and Institutions who have witnessed the scientifically impossible influence of the Autonomic Nervous System. He has been able to gain control over his body and mind that has enabled him to endure the unendurable. He has climbed Mount Everest in his shorts, ran a half marathon above the Arctic Circle barefoot only wearing shorts, swam underneath ice for 66 meters, hung on one finger at an altitude of 2,000 meters, ran a full marathon in the Namib Desert without drinking and stood in a container whilst covered in ice cubes for 112 minutes!
His website holds testimonials from ‘normal’ people who have tried out some of his many theories and are now reaping the rewards of great health and an increased level of fitness. Some of his ‘pupils’ have never been able to achieve more than 10 press ups, but after following his method they can easily achieve far more.
What Does The Wim Hof Method Involve?
Wim Hofs Method involves three key pillars for success:
Proper exposure to the cold starts a cascade of health benefits. It includes the build-up of tissue and resultant fat loss, reduced inflammation to help your immune system, balanced hormone levels, improved sleep quality, and the production of endorphins— the feel-good chemicals in the brain that naturally elevate your mood.
We’re always breathing, yet we’re largely unaware of how it can help us beyond just breathing to live. Heightened oxygen levels can help you have more energy, reduced stress levels, and an augmented immune response. To try the method:
- Lay on your back in a relaxed environment
- Think of breathing as coming from your belly, chest and head.
- Breathe first into the belly then into the chest and then the head.
- Continue this for 30 deep breathes
- Following the last breath, hold your breath (use a stopwatch if you want)
- Release your breath and continue the method.
You will notice that over time the period of held breath will lengthen. You will experience light headiness and tingling, all good stuff so just go with it! To see Wim explain the method himself, watch his video:
Tips on how to breath
- Breathing should be done in a fluid motion
- Don’t use force
- Flex your body on the last breathe hold
- Be consistent
The third pillar of the method is the foundation of the other two. Both cold exposure and conscious breathing mean patience and dedication to get the most out of them. You must make sure you focus and stay determined!
Find Out More
There are many more testimonials, videos, events and articles promoting WHM so why not check it out for yourself and see if you benefit from his findings?
I’ve been practising some of his recommendations and have found the ‘cold’ shower, although awful at first, is absolutely invigorating. It sends out a real feel of warmth and tingling that last for a long time! Give it a go – you don’t have to instantly step into a cold shower you could always turn the temperature down gradually until you acclimatise. Enjoy!
Images are taken from Instagram