(Image source www.wimhofmethod.com)
Wim Hof, also known as The Iceman, is a famous Dutch noted for his amazing abilities such as withstanding freezing temperatures and surviving deadly bacteria.
He has climbed both Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Everest in his shorts, swum under the ice for 66 metres, ran barefoot a half-marathon on ice and snow and a full marathon in the Namib desert without water. These are just a few examples of his impressive feats which earned him more than 20 world records.
Pretty cool right? ?
He attributes these feats to his Wim Hof Method, a combination of cold therapy, breathing techniques and meditation.
Wim Hof believes his techniques can help us boost our immune system, stimulate endorphin production, and master the body & mind.
His ultimate goals are to fight off all disease, to facilitate a paradigm shift towards health, to promote love, happiness and care for our planet. All of this by using Wim Hof’s techniques.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wim Hof has been giving many interviews and sharing solutions for boosting our immune systems, so the next time this virus hits, we are more prepared as a species. His main focus is, of course, The Wim Hof Method but there are other interesting pieces of advice.
For instance, he has been talking a lot about how fear can change our chemistry, weaken our immune system, cause inflammation and psychosomatic diseases. This is actually in line with a topic we discuss a lot in this blog, the low vibration of fear – check out the Hawkins scale of vibration if you want to learn more about the consequences of fear.
Wim Hof has also been talking about the importance of being conscious and present in the moment and says we should take the opportunity of having more free time due to the coronavirus lockdown to learn how to meditate, control our mind and boost our immune system.
What is the Wim Hof Method?
The Wim Hof Method involves three “pillars”: cold therapy, breathing and meditation. It has similarities to Tibetan Tummo meditation and pranayama, both of which employ breathing techniques and aim to grant us more control of our physiology. Breath control is at the centre of many of these techniques, and the concept has worked its way into modern medicine as well. You can learn everything about Wim Hof Method on his website.
In this blog, I am going to focus on one of the pillars, the breathing technique as this is something I have tried myself and it worked wonders on my wellbeing.
Wim Hof Breathing Technique
Breathing is something we are usually not conscious about as we leave it up to our autonomic nervous system, responsible for unconscious actions like our heartbeat and digestion. However, we can seamlessly take over the rhythm of our breath and breathe more consciously.
That’s when Wim Hof’s breathing method comes in handy.
There are many variations of the breathing technique, but the basic version consists of three phases as follows:
- Controlled hyperventilation: The first phase involves 30 cycles of breathing. In each cycle you take a deep breath in, fully filling the lungs and then breathe out by passively releasing the breath, but not forcefully.
- Exhalation: You take another deep breath in and let it out completely. Hold the breath (with lungs empty) for as long as possible.
- Breath retention: When strong urges to breathe occur, take a full deep breath in. Hold the breath for around 15 – 20 seconds and let it go.
These three phases may be repeated for three consecutive rounds. While practicing the technique, you may experience feelings of euphoria and elevated energy. You may feel tingling sensations or slight light-headedness.
Exposure to cold is not needed to immediately experience some amazing benefits from breathwork.
Wim Hof Method Benefits
According to Wim Hof, the breathing technique combined with repeated exposure to the cold, will lead to tangible health benefits such as:
- Boosting your immune system
- Improving focus and concentration
- Improving your mental well-being
- Increasing willpower
- Increasing your energy
- Relieving some symptoms of depression
- Relieving stress
- Improving sleep
Wim Hof Method Controversies
Of course, with every theory, it comes controversy. Wikipedia mentions that some people have died while attempting the Wim Hof Method. Four practitioners of the Wim Hof Method drowned in 2015 and 2016, and relatives suspected the breathing exercises were to blame. That’s why Wim Hof website advises doing the exercises in a safe manner and location.
Critics of Wim Hof also claim that he overstates the benefits of his method, giving false hope to people suffering from serious diseases.
Wim Hof Method and Science
Due to his remarkable abilities, Wim Hof has been the subject of several scientific studies. He is also the subject of the bestselling book What Doesn’t Kill Us, which tells the story of how the investigative journalist Scott Carney took an assignment to debunk the Wim Hof Method but ended up learning his techniques.
Wim Hof has worked with scientists to gain credibility and currently, there are several studies underway researching the physical effects of the Wim Hof Method.
One example is a 2014 study where participants performed breathing techniques such as consciously hyperventilating and retaining the breath, meditation, and cold therapy. Results showed that the sympathetic nervous system and the immune system can be voluntarily influenced. This could be due to the anti-inflammatory effect produced by the techniques.
Personally, as someone who practices his breathing exercises and meditation, I think his methodology is incredible. I believe we have the power to change our own physiology, especially at a difficult time like this.
I love listening to Wim Hof talking about how he developed his method. He describes how more than 40 years ago he felt attracted to going into the cold and testing his human abilities. He says he had never read or heard anything about it before, it was simply a natural attraction that ended up revealing him his life purpose. In the many interviews he gives all over the world he talks about his mission which is spreading the word that everyone is able to do what he does, and he has been dedicating his life to teach many others to do it.
However, the purpose of my post is not to convince you of anything but only share some ideas, research and thoughts. As always, I ask you to do your own research and use your intuition to find out what’s best for you.
If you are interested in trying Wim Hof’s Breathing techniques, please use a good dose of common sense, for instance, not hyperventilating in these circumstances:
- Before submerging in water
- While driving
- While swimming
- While taking a bath
- While standing
- Without approval of your medical caregiver
Practice the Wim Hof Method in a safe and comfortable environment, not in an environment/place where it might be dangerous to faint. It’s important that you use the technique in a responsible manner. Consult your doctor before attempting anything that could be considered dangerous or extreme.
As with any new meditation or breathing technique, if it doesn’t feel right, stop doing it.
Learn this method or technique correctly and your life will dramatically be transformed.
Love and light x