Wim Hof is rapidly making a name for himself as the instigator of a breathing revolution. There are many breathing techniques out there, but none have been so targeted towards overall health enhancement than the Wim Hof Method.
It is widely recognised that we do not breathe as well as we should . This is as a result of doing more sitting than our bodies were designed to do. The bent over, compacted posture most people adopt when sitting means we cannot use our breathing mechanism in the right way.
The result of this is a series of reactions. The reduction in the oxygen levels in our body increases fatigue and stress, which means an increase in the stress hormone; cortisol. Cortisol increases are then linked to a host of other issues that you probably don’t want to know about! .
Breathing properly is literally the first thing on the list of things you need to get right in your life. Wim Hof recognised this and created a method of achieving this that is accessible to everyone.
What is The Wim Hof Method and How Do I Do It?
There are three aspects to the Wim Hof Method (WHM):
- Controlled breathing.
- Cold exposure.
We will cover how to very easily develop practices in cold exposure and meditation in other daily practice articles, but controlled breathing is something that should be experienced through Wim Hof. If only because he’s a hilarious guy.
There are various courses on the WHM website, but the breathing can be experienced quite easily for free.
To describe it simply, it is 3 sets of 30 deep breaths with a breath-hold at the end of a set. As you might expect, the breaths are slightly different than the ones you do every day. But by doing one session of Wim Hof breathing you should be able to offset the rest of the day’s poor breathing and eventually learn to breathe better throughout the day.
There are many other benefits you may notice after a WHM breathing session and some of the things I have experienced are:
- Clarity of thoughts.
- Increased alertness.
- A feeling of strength and vigour.
I actually combine the WHM with some diaphragmatic exercises and vocal exercises to enhance the improvements in my breathing, improve posture and improve the sound of my voice all at the same time. This article is all about keeping things simple though, so I will take you through the vocalist exercises in another article if you want to get more involved.
For more information on the WHM we go into a bit more detail in another Wim Hof breathing article.
Getting started with WHM breathing is super-simple. Watch the video below to get an introduction to the technique from the man himself.
When you’re ready to do a session, watch this quick safety video and then use the ‘breathing bubble’ video below to guide you.
You could do just fine sticking to this guided video, but you can add in extra breaths per set. As your body gets used to extra oxygen that this breathing technique brings in, you can increase up to 40 or 50 breaths, but take it slowly. Just enjoy the feeling you will get from even the basic set of breaths and only move up when you feel ready.
What Can You Expect During a WHM Session?
This is going to be very different for everyone, but there are a few things that almost everyone that practices it experiences.
You might feel a little light-headed. The basic session of 3 sets of 30 breaths is designed to be a light introduction to the WHM and should be fine for everyone. It’s normal to feel a little light-headed, but don’t push yourself further than you’re comfortable with.
You might get some tingling and numbness in your fingers and hands. This is due to the reduced CO2 in your blood causing nerves to become excitable. If you are finding that you are getting spasms regularly, this is fairly normal, but you can cut back a little on the sets to begin with and break yourself in more gently.
You might feel a sense of calm that you’ve hardly ever experienced before, especially after finishing the breathing and laying for a while, enjoying the feeling. Use this time however you like, but do use it. Don’t just get up straight afterwards. For one, you might get a bit of a head rush getting up to soon but also, you might be in a frame of mind that is more focused, relaxed and energised all at the same time. It’s valuable thinking time. Or valuable not thinking time.
You might get a bit sweaty during a session, especially as you lengthen the number of breaths or sets later on. The basic set of 3×30 shouldn’t get you too sweaty though, so no need to wear gym clothes!
The Wim Hof Method offers something incredible for a practice that is legal, safe and free to do. Every time I do it, it completely alters my state of mind. If I’m hungover, it will at least make me feel better, sometimes curing a hangover completely. If I’m procrastinating, it will give me enthusiasm to get going. If I’m nervous, say before recording a video, it will put me at ease.
I wish everybody could experience what this can do for you. All I can say is give it a go!