If you haven’t heard of Wim Hof, check out the video interview below.
This crazy Dutch guy has achieved some incredible record-breaking physical feats including taking the longest ice bath of nearly 2h, climbing 22,000 ft altitude at Mount Everest wearing nothing but shorts and shoes, reaching the top of Mount Kilimanjaro wearing just shorts, and completing a full marathon in temperatures close to −20 °C dressed in nothing but shorts.
Plus, he’s really funny to listen to in his eccentric Dutch accent… 😉
Hof claims that his breathing and cold exposure techniques can have profound affects on assisting your cells to ward of disease and to have significantly more energy and vitality.
What I do, and Why?
I do Wim Hof Breathing as per below whilst taking a cold (15 degree) Contrast Shower to start off my day. I feel euphoric, buzzing and ready to go crush the day physically and mentally. It’s truly an incredible feeling and gives me the best chance to have a super productive and calm in-control day.
Plus, mentally, you can’t help but feel proud and hardy, as it takes a lot of discipline and courage to withstand and grow to enjoy ice cold showers. We as humans seek comfort and convenience – that’s how we’re wired. Unfortunately, this makes us soft an less able to ward off danger from a physiological and mental perspective.
For more info on the benefit of Cold Contrast Showers, check out the Hot/Cold Contrast Showers – Feel Alive & Lots of Health Benefits! article on AdapNation.
What is the Wim Hof Breathing Technique?
It’s effectively controlled hyperventilation followed by cold exposure, which increases your blood’s alkalinity and, theoretically, enables us to train our cells for optimal effectiveness. Immersion in ice cold water (or cold temperatures) increases cortisol levels and decreases testosterone, which creates an acute stress response that works to strengthen your body and lower chronic stress levels.
We are all carrying too much low level chronic stress around with us day to day, and this technique combined with mindfulness and exercise and break the cycle.
I highly recommend watching this Youtube 20min video where Wim Hof put’s Lewis Howes through the breathing technique whilst briefly explaining what is happening and the benefits.
Benefits, in a Nutshell
Wim Hof breathing can:
- Boost energy levels
- Lower stress levels instantly and over time
- Strengthen the immune system
- Improve focus and concentration
- Improve sleep quality
- Boost your mood by releasing endorphins
- Improve and increase blood circulation
Performing the Breathing Technique
Complete the below for 1-3 rounds once a day.
For bonus points do this WITH a contrast Cold Shower. Do this by 20 Power Breaths under hot water. Then crank it down to as cold as you can and complete another 10+ Power Breaths. Then, do the No-Oxygen Hold, Recovery Breath and finish with the Oxygenated Hold under the freezing cold shower. WOW!
- 20-30 Power Breaths – Pretend that you’re blowing up a balloon. Inhale through your nose fully and then forcefully exhale through your mouth in powerful air-emptying bursts. Keep a steady pace, and use your whole chest and diaphragm. Perform 20-30 power breaths or until your body feels completely oxygenated. You might feel a bit lightheaded or get tingling sensations – that’s okay.
- The No-Oxygen Hold – After you’ve completed your 30 power breaths, inhale deeply and fill your lungs to capacity. Then, force all the air out. In this Oxygen depleted state, hold your breathe for as long as you possible can, until you experience the gasp reflex. Try and calm down, go a little longer than your first instinct. Aim for at least 1 minute if possible.
- The Recovery Breath – When you need to breath, inhale deeply. Release any tension in your solar plexus and hold that breath in. Hold for 10-15 seconds. Then fully breath out slowly.
- The Oxygenated Hold – This is optional, but in my opinion completes the process. Take one last huge breath in, shoulders back and chest up. Hold some tension in your back, and hold your breath for as long as you can go. It will likely be slightly longer than the No-Oxygen Hold. When you need to breathe, go ahead. This is one round.
You may feel a little dizzy or tingly – that’s to be expected. Your body has just been super oxygenated and then starved of oxygen. It will feel like a high, and you’ll want to do it again. At least that’s how it makes me feel.
This process takes practice. The first time you do it, don’t be surprised if you can only do the No-Oxygen Hold for 30 seconds. That’s completely normal. The more you practice and learn to calm the mind and your muscles, you soon be doubling that time and maybe even more!
The Power of Swinging the Stress Response Pendulum
You would have activated your Sympathetic Nervous System (fight or flight), but in a deliberate and acute fashion. It’s likely you’ll feel strong, confident, alive and raring to go.
And don’t worry about the Sympathetic activation, because this approach creates a strong rebound effect, where it will activate your Parasympathetic Nervous System (rest and digest) in a more pronounced and longer lasting manner. Especially when combined with a Cold Shower.
The net result is that you are training your body to handle greater stress more comfortable. combined with rebounding into long periods of activating your parasympathetic energy system.
Want More Info & Insight?
If you want to hear from the man himself, and like long form discussion, then definitely check out Russell Brand’s interview with Wim Hof. Both hilarious, insightful, scientific and profound. You’ll hear about the benefits and mechanisms behind Wim Hof Breathing and Cold Exposure.
This brilliant interview is also in Apple Podcasts, if Podcasts are more your jam.
Follow this Wellness Tip of The Day blog as it unfolds. Comment if you have questions or ideas.