What is in This Article
Breathing exercises are known as very beneficial for people’s overall well-being. So, practicing breathing techniques has become widely recommended worldwide because of its extraordinary perks. One of the most popular ones is Wim Hof Breathing Method which incorporates methods that help you connect with your body deeply. It is a method that provides you with health improvements healthily and naturally.
However, to be able to perform Wim Hof breathing exercises, you need to learn how to do it right. It is a concept that includes several notions, and you need to be familiar with all of them for the best results. Wim hof Breathing Method is a practice that works to combine cold plunging with breathwork. In this article, we cover the basics of the Wim Hof method so you can understand what it is all about.
What is Wim Hof Breathing Method?
Wim Hof breathing technique is one of the three components that make the Wim Hof Method. Namely, the three pillars of the method include breathing exercises, cold exposure, and commitment. Each of these is equally important to reach the optimal results of the method and experience positive changes in overall physical and mental health.
Breathing exercises: They increase your body’s oxygen levels by controlled deep breathing. It is a sort of meditation practice that helps you relax your entire body and strengthen your nervous system.
Cold therapy: One of the most popular practices of the Wim Hof technique is the use of ice baths. Athletes have mostly used cold exposure for treating sore muscles. Nonetheless, nowadays, extremely cold temperatures of water are used by many for treating several health issues, such as chronic pain, weak immune system, increased blood pressure, and so on.
Commitment: This is a crucial part of the Wim Hof Method because the benefits do not happen overnight. Moreover, the techniques are not easily performed, requiring preparation and, most importantly, patience. Truly committing to the method is half of its success.
Not accidentally, the Wim Hof breathing technique is the first pillar of the method. More specifically, you need to begin with breathing exercises if you intend to perform the whole process and take advantage of the perks.
Wim Hof breathing is about focusing on a naturally unconscious process. Most of the time, we are not aware of our breathing. However, the technique is intended to teach you how to focus on the process and make it controlled. Through conscious breathing, your mind connects with your body, and you get control of the actions your body is performing. In other words, you become more focused and conscious about yourself and your surroundings.
Wim Hof breathing is achieved through a period of controlled hyperventilation, which is then followed by a period of breath holding. The goal is to inhale deeply and then exhale naturally. You will learn how to let breath leave your body without any force. Even though this may seem easy, the breathing technique requires practice and patience.
Who Created The Method
The Wim Hof Method was created by a Dutch athlete – Wim Hof, also known as The Iceman. He believes that any limits disappear when you master control over your body. This resulted in him putting his body on the cold exposure test continuously. With the help of breathing techniques and ice baths, he managed to gain control and gradually withstand extremely cold temperatures. He created the method to prove that whatever you set your heart on can be achieved if you are fully committed and willing to be patient with your body.
Through cold therapy, he has succeeded in breaking many records, such as standing in an ice-cube-covered container for 112, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in shorts, as well as completing half a marathon barefoot around the Arctic Circle.
Cold exposure was the force that taught him how to endure extreme conditions and break his own limitations. His committed training enabled him to gain control of his heart rate and his breathing. More importantly, the training has improved his blood circulation, enabling him to withstand various weather conditions and freezing temperatures.
Moreover, when creating his method, Wim Hof was guided by the belief that what he can do, everyone can learn to do. In other words, he bases his technique on the power of commitment and willingness. He does not believe he is a man of superpowers but rather a man who learned how to take control of his body. Incorporating breathing exercises and cold therapy has allowed him to do what was previously considered impossible.
In short, the Wim Hof Method is not based on superpowers but on powers that everybody possesses so long they are controlled mindfully. Considering this, it is no wonder that Wim Hof method practice has become greatly popular all over the world.
Why Is Wim Hof Breathing Good For You?
The Wim Hof Method is not so famous for nothing. Namely, its fame carries many benefits for both physical and mental health. The breathing techniques, along with cold exposure that the method teaches you, can have a significant impact on your whole body. Moreover, it encourages you to dedicate yourself to something really powerful.
Some of the scientifically proven perks of the Wim Hof Method regarding breathing are the following:
Increased energy levels
Controlled breathing can make you more energized throughout the day. Since the method includes a lot of focus, your brain tends to sharpen and make you more productive. In other words, you train your brain to become more conscious through breathing techniques. Although you exercise to perfect your controlled breathing, your brain absorbs the process and develops heightened focus leading to improved energy levels.
The Wim Hof Method is intended to serve as a stress reliever. Becoming more calm and more relaxed is achieved through adequate breathing exercises. The process of controlled hyperventilation in combination with breath holding is the right way to get rid of negative energy and become more tranquil. It is something that everyone needs daily, considering we all tend to lead quite busy lives.
Stronger immune system
This might not be news to you – breathing is connected to your immune system. Therefore, incorporating breathing techniques into your daily routine can do wonders for your body and significantly strengthen your immune system. In other words, you will become more resilient to the impacts of your surroundings, and your body will learn how to fight bacteria and viruses successfully.
Improved determination and willingness
Wim Hof has based his method on determination and willingness, so this is what you get when you perform it. You cannot do anything without a strong will and dedication, and the method encourages you to push yourself over the limits. If you want to see the results that Wim Hof guarantees, you need to have a strong determination to do so. However, your determination for the Wim Hof Method stays with you, meaning you will learn to be determined for everything in life.
The Wim Hof method’s breathing benefits include the improvement of sleep. That is, through breath holds and controlled practice, you allow your body to release too much carbon dioxide. That way, your body becomes more relaxed, so you sleep better at night.
Improved athletic performance
The breathing exercises can help you release concentrated red blood cells into the bloodstream. This is known to improve athletic performance and remove obstacles for people significantly invested in sports.
Why Wim Hof Works
While there are a lot of studies that show different results, many of them have reached common ground. Many of them have concluded the same benefits of the Wim Hof Method. Moreover, many people have tried breathing techniques along with cold exposure, and their experience proves that the method has effects.
In addition, people who have performed the Wim Hof technique have reported both physical and psychological results. They have said that the method has provided them with profound experiences they have never witnessed before. Even though sometimes breathing exercises and ice baths can seem simple, they are actually a part of something very complex. Namely, it is something that can be achieved only through the power of your determination and willingness.
Exposing yourself to extreme water temperatures while consciously breathing requires skills you can only develop through practice and dedication. The Wim Hof Method works because you expose your body and mind to extreme circumstances that allow you to achieve a deeper connection with yourself. You get to see your limits, and you have the opportunity to go over them, which is a very powerful and complex notion.
In other words, when you perform the Wim Hof method, you enter a different state of yourself. You learn that you can withstand extreme temperatures and control your body through breath holds. And once you reach this state, you become unstoppable!
Are there any Risks to Wim Hof Breathing?
Even though the Wim Hof technique of breathing has reached a certain level of popularity, which continues to increase, it is essential to point out that there might be some risks involved in the method. It is necessary to be informed well before beginning the whole process because you do not want unpleasant surprises.
First, it is important to note that you should not get involved in the Wim Hof technique of breathing if you have specific health issues. These issues include respiratory problems, such as asthma, a history of seizures or stroke, and low or high blood pressure. Moreover, the method is not recommended for pregnant women.
Second, being prepared for the occurrences that might appear while practicing breathing and cold exposure is a must. That is, you have to be aware of what might happen because the entire process will be your responsibility.
When it comes to Wim Hof Method breathing practice, you might experience dizziness or lightheadedness. These are expected occurrences when hyperventilating. In addition, you should be aware that hyperventilation comes with certain risks, such as:
Fainting due to lack of blood flow to the brain
Deprivation of oxygen in the brain
Harmful effect on the brain in people who have experienced traumatic brain injury
Considering these risks, it is also essential to note that the Wim Hof breathing practice should not be done in water or during cold showers. Since these are circumstances in which the person is most likely alone, the environment is not safe.
Since the foundation of the Wim Hof Method is the practice of breathing, you need to start with that. Therefore, learning how to perfect your breathing skills plays a crucial role if you decide to try ice baths and experience the benefits of cold exposure.
The Wim Hof Method breathing practice includes the following several steps:
Find a position in which you feel comfortable.
Take a deep breath through your mouth or nose and through the belly to the chest. Then exhale without using any force.
Immediately breathe in again.
Repeat this process 30 times.
On your 30th breath, exhale to 90% and hold on as much as you can (at least 15 seconds). This is the final step of the process.
Once you are finished, make sure you take some time to meditate and enjoy the state of deep relaxation.
The Wim Hof website recommends that you do the Wim Hof Method breathing practice every day. The goal of the breathing technique is to reach a state in which your 30 breaths come close together, and it feels like hyperventilation. However, this is controlled hyperventilation in which you have perfected the deep breath holds.
People who have been doing the Wim Hof breathing practice for some time might try doing the exercises while taking cold showers. Once a person becomes comfortable with the breathing concepts, they might try doing them during ice baths. These advanced techniques will allow you to become more resilient to cold temperatures and experience the effects of the Wim Hof Method.
Wim Hof For Athletic performance
Athletes first used the Wim Hof Method since it was already well-known that extreme-cold showers and baths are good for treating sore muscles. That is the main reason why many gyms have started to offer cold plunges. Nonetheless, the method comes with more benefits than just dealing with sore muscles.
Namely, some studies have shown that the Wim Hof Method can improve the performance of athletes. One research with a group of athletes has concluded that the method does not have a direct effect on repeated sprint ability. However, it has shown that participants were more determined to do the sprinting after the Wim Hof Method conduct.
Therefore, this has shown that the method might not have a direct impact on repeated sprint ability. Nonetheless, it has impacted the participants in the repeated sprinting performance to show willpower and determination to do the activity. These are psychological effects that cannot be ignored.
On the other hand, another study on cyclists has shown the direct effects of the Wim Hof Method. That is, the performance of the participants after the breathing method has improved in time acceleration. It means that the breathing practice has given them more energy, and they have performed better.
Online Wim Hof Method training
While there are instructors who can help you practice the Wim Hof Method, you might not be a fan of in-person training. That is completely normal since the techniques are complex, and you might want to do them on your own. So, you have the option to do online training with the options that the website of the official Wim Hof Method offers.
There are numerous courses in different styles, so you can choose whatever suits you. Even if you have a busy schedule, there are options that will allow you to do your training for a short time. Moreover, there is also a suitable Wim Hof mobile app, so you can easily go through your courses wherever you are.
Nonetheless, the best thing about the Wim Hof online courses is that they are designed to guide you through the exercises for breathing, meditation, cold showers, cold plunging, and more. Plus, they also give you homework exercises you should do in your own time.
When it comes to online training for breathing methods, you should know that it is not recommended that you overdo it. The breathing practices typically last for about 20 minutes, but you should not rush yourself. You do not want to be discouraged if you feel like you cannot do something perfectly at a given moment. Therefore, make sure you listen to your body while adapting it to the online course.
Physical Health Benefits of Wim Hof Breathing Method
While I mentioned some of the benefits to explain why the Wim Hof Method can be good for you, I would like to give you some specifics when it comes to the physical health perks. The Wim Hof technique can improve your physical state in so many ways, so the hard work to reach great results will really pay off.
Some of the greatest physical benefits you can experience after trying the Wim Hof technique are the following:
Reduces the levels of inflammation and disease activity
Natural arthritis relief
Significant workout recovery
Lowers the blood pressure
Improves the cardiovascular system
Mental Health Benefits of Wim Hof Breathing Method
The Wim Hof technique has equal impacts on mental health as well. Some studies argue that the Wim Hof Method is more beneficial when it comes to psychological improvements in the body. However, it goes without saying that each individual reacts differently, so you need to try and see how the method will impact you.
Some of the greatest mental benefits you can experience after trying the Wim Hof technique are the following:
Improves brain activity
Helps with dealing with depression
Creates a powerful link between the body and the mind
Helps to control the autonomic nervous system
Helps create a life balance
The Science Behind the Wim Hof Breathing Method
The first pillar of the Wim Hof Method is breathing. Many people believe that this is an automatic activity that everyone does, so practicing might not be something crucial. Nonetheless, it is very important to acknowledge the fact that the goal of the Wim Hof concept is to make breathing conscious and focused. It is breathing that helps you withstand the next pillar of the method, i.e., extreme cold exposure.
In other words, you need to understand the science that stands behind the method. When we breathe, we inhale oxygen to power our cells and then exhale carbon dioxide, which is basically waste. In the breathing process of the Wim Hof concept, we are working towards increasing the levels of oxygen and decreasing the levels of carbon dioxide absorption.
However, this cannot happen if we do not learn how to breathe consciously. More precisely, our goal is to make an unconscious activity a conscious one and take control over our entire body in a whole different way.
Wim Hof Breathing vs. Yoga Breathing
Often, Wim Hof practice of breathing and yoga breathing is regarded as the same. While it is true that they have similarities, they still have distinguished features that make them separate notions. It is obvious that both practices focus on conscious, mindful breathing, but what makes them different is their end goal. Even though some of their benefits intertwine, they are still used for distinguished reasons.
If you are thinking about incorporating one of them into your daily routine, you first need to learn their characteristics. Moreover, you need to know what you want to get out of the practice so you can reach your expected results.
First, you need to understand that the Wim Hof Method is focused on controlling your body. So, when it comes to breathing, the goal is to prepare your mind and body for a response to stress and for strengthening your immune system. The main goal is this because the next step of the method is exposure to cold temperatures. So, basically, with breathing, you are preparing your body for the shocking change that will occur to it.
On the other hand, yoga breathing is intended to calm your mind and body. In addition, its goal is to reduce stress and promote overall physical and mental health being. It teaches you to let go of your thoughts and make peace with your reality. Plus, it encourages you to embrace positivity in everything.
Furthermore, yoga breathing has different variations used for different purposes. Wim Hof breathing practice has one structure that needs to be repeated several times until you gain comfort doing it.
While the end goals of both practices seem similar and their benefits often overlap, they need to be regarded as different concepts.
Trying the Wim Hof Method is a completely unique experience that will bring you numerous perks. It is challenging and requires a lot of dedication and work, but the results are unparalleled. Perfecting your breathing will inspire you to do more and achieve more. So, take a final deep breath and say, “I”can”!”
If you want to look into the best tubs for ice baths, check out this article.