DEEP BREATHING TO HACK YOUR PHYSIOLOGY: THE WIM HOF METHOD
When you mention “Wim Hof”, the average person shrugs. When you explain that he’s the guy on TV who can regulate his body temperature while submerging himself in ice… The one who runs around on snow covered mountains tops while barely clothed - they usually recall, “Oh, yeah, him!”.
There is a reason why Wim Hof, known as “The Iceman”, can accomplish the seemingly superhuman. Seeing him in action you would swear that he was an anomaly, though Wim denies that. The fact that he holds 26 world records for his achievements makes it even harder to believe. Among the records include taking the longest ice bath, completing a desert marathon without water, hanging from a 6,000-foot cliff with one finger, and a wealth of other wins to boast about.
But Wim doesn’t boast. To the contrary, he wants us to know that he’s nobody special. He believes that you and I can attain his level of self-mastery too.
Wim credits his death-wish-like-feats to his ability to control his autonomic nervous system; which is responsible for breathing, heart rate, and circulation.
Also, like you and I, The Iceman was not born with these gifts. They are a product of diligent training - which followed a tragic life event, sending Wim on a mission to find the cure for what ailed him.
“Once you know the way to your spiritual destiny, you can change. Once you realize that there are no limits in your mind, once you realize there are no boundaries to what is possible, you can change.”- Wim Hof
THE METHOD WAS BORN
In 1995, Dutchman Wim Hof tragically lost his wife to suicide. This left Wim with 4 children to raise on his own while carrying around the weight of grief and depression.
Due to his circumstances; Wim began to explore breathing, meditation, and other self-help techniques while formulating what has come to be known as his “The Wim Hof Method”.
Wim now conducts workshops where he takes groups out into the extreme cold to do the various exercises that encompass his method: a 3-step process that also involves cold therapy and mindset.
At the crux of this method—and what he is most known to teach to laypeople—is his deep breathing technique.
BENEFITS OF DEEP BREATHING
Taking in a deep breath may help you to pause and to collect yourself when needed. Studies show that taking in just 6 deep breaths lowers your blood pressure. Wim Hof—the once stamped crazy man, redeemed by mainstream science—shows us how to hack our entire physiology in as little as 13 breaths.
“If you can learn how to use your mind, anything is possible.”- Wim Hof
With Wim’s deep breathing technique, we hack the deepest most primitive parts of our brain.
Or the limbic system, also known as the lizard brain - which is the seat of our emotion, mood, addictions, and other mental processes that influence our behavior.
Wim claims that whatever is wrong with our bodies and our minds can be corrected and brought back to their natural state through his technique.
Though, Wim cautions that his method is best used to manage health rather than as a cure.
We can regulate our immune and nervous systems.
Bringing oxygen to the blood.
Balancing our bodies PH levels.
Releasing positive hormones that correct depression.
“Whenever you’re not feeling healthy, strong, or happy. Repair!”- Wim Hof
Wim, not being one to shy away from his claims, has let doctors inject him with bacterial endotoxins in attempts to show big science that he’s not phased. His immune system not so much as having flinched.
Wim claims to never get sick.
As a result of this practice we release controlled adrenaline into our bodies, which has a different quality than the fight-or-flight adrenaline that we’re accustom to. There is a feeling—a high—that accompanies it.
Wim states that practicing his breathing technique for just 2 days is enough to reap its benefits. For many, including myself, I felt amazing after doing it once.
To begin, we want to be seated or laying down
We start with taking anywhere from 13-30 deep breaths through our mouths.
On the in-breath we want to take in as much air as possible - “Fully in”.
On the outbreath we do not exhale, but we naturally “let go”.
We then take another breath: “Fully in”.
Outbreath: “Let go”.
Fully in, let go. Fully in, let go. Repeat.
The in-breath will always be much deeper than the letting go off the outbreath, since the outbreath is never a full exhale.
Wim recommends that we do at least 3 cycles of this.
At the end of each cycle we take one last deep breath and hold it for as long as possible.
We will be amazed at how long we can hold our breath for - minutes. We’ll find that we’re able to hold it for longer each time at the end of every cycle.