I was introduced to Wim Hof a while ago through a Vice documentary. I wrote about the benefits of cold exposure a while back. Since then though I have been exposed to more of his work and I have practiced his breathing technique more regularly and I definitely experienced the benefits of it.
What is it?
The Wim Hof method is a combination of breathing and cold exposure exercises. His aim with this is to help people get happy, strong and healthy. Through the breath. It is about using what is part of you to gain a better understanding of your body and mind and through this improve your performance. Wim is a multiple Guinness world record holder and he has worked with numerous athletes most recently MMA fighters. He may sound a little out there and intense, but what he does well is have scientific community scrutinize, test and validate what he does. Backing up his method with research. Many people have incorporated his methods into their programming and training. Most notably the big wave surfing legend Laird Hamilton and The founder of CrossFit endurance Brian McKenzie. They have incorporated and expanded on Wim’s work in their own practices. Through this exposing more people to the power of breathing.
His system is very simple and if you check out his website wimhofmethod.com everything is explained and there is a free short course you can do to get you started on the method.
What are the benefits?
I have found that it is a great reset. It is great to refocus after long day and you need to train or do other work. As Wim puts it, “it breaks the loop”. The loop of thought or behaviour that you get trapped in. The loop of fatigue, stress, anxiety, laziness or whatever. It is a way that allows you to take control back. You feel energized after doing the breath cycle, especially after doing the push ups with it.
How do you practically integrate it into you day to day?
The basic structure of the breath cycle is 30 deep breaths, exhale, and hold for as long as you can, inhale then hold for 10 seconds. I lose count most of the time, so I set a timer for 3min and do the breathing cycle for that time. You can start with 1 or 2 minutes as well.
I like to do it before my training session
After work as a reset after a long day
As a session in the morning: I do 3 or 4 cycles of breathing, stretch, then take a cold shower.
Give it a try, you will feel great after and the more regularly you do it, the more benefits you will find.
Here is a podcast with Aubrey Marcus that highlights some of the ideas and thinking behind the method.
Here is a short video that details the method.
Warning: do the breathing in a safe environment, sitting or lying on the ground, bed or couch. Don’t do this and swim or sitting in a bath or pool.
By Llewellyn Morkel