Breathe - with The Iceman Wim Hof

Updated: Oct 20, 2020

Breathe fully in

Inhale fully into the belly, chest, then head, then let go.

Breathe fully in

Bring your focus to the flow of the breath in your body, then let go.

Breathe fully in

Allow your breath to completely fill your belly, chest, then head, then exhale without force, leaving some oxygen in the lungs, just let go.

40 deep breaths in this manner is the first step to the Wim Hof Method. Wim Hof developed this breathing technique after years of exposing himself to cold, which intuitively taught him the deep breathing required to create an oxygen rich environment in his body, which allows him to withstand extreme stress. Wim went on to use this technique to set 26 world records for feats that were previously believed to be fatal or humanly impossible.

Breathe fully in

Intensify your focus on your body, go deep within yourself, then let go.

Breathe fully in

Like the waves in the sea, they come up on the shore, then let go.

Breathe fully in

Push the oxygen into every cell, charging your body with energy, then let go.

Wim Hof, nicknamed “The Iceman”, has used his breathing exercises to successfully run a half marathon above the arctic circle barefoot, remain completely submerged in ice for over two hours, and climb Mt. Everest wearing only shorts. He’s also run a marathon in the Namibian dessert without drinking water, and swam underneath the ice for 215 ft in a single breath.

In order to better understand how he is able to thrive in extreme cold, Wim has subjected himself to the rigors of science, allowing researchers to measure and study what is happening in his body. These scientific studies substantiate and legitimize his techniques, and help us learn how to apply his techniques to various facets of life.

In one particularly groundbreaking study, Wim allowed himself to be injected with an endotoxin, showcasing his ability to consciously mobilize his immune system to neutralize the threat. When skeptics tried to dismiss him as a genetic freak who is simply beyond the rest of us, he trained 12 people with the Wim Hof Method. Only ten days later, all 12 of the trained test subjects were able to neutralize the endotoxin and suppress the symptoms that were seen in the 12 untrained test subjects — fever, extreme shivering, nausea, and headaches.

Breathe fully in

Feel the symptoms, the light-headedness, the tingling, the looseness, then let go.

Breathe fully in

Embrace these symptoms, your body charged with potential and possibility, then let go.

Breathe fully in

Intensify your focus on your body, your energy, your spirit, then let go.

Wim has proven in his scientific studies that he uses his method to gain control of his autonomic nervous system and innate immune system, including the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, the glands responsible for responding to stress. Thus, he is able to decrease inflammation and increase alkalinity in the body.

In another study, Wim proves his method gives him access to the periaqueductal gray matter in the brain, located in the upper brainstem. This area of the brain is responsible for the release of opioids, cannabinoids, and serotonin; therefore it has a large influence on pain perception and general feelings of mood and well being.

Breathe fully in

You have control of your physiology and neurochemistry. then let go.

Breathe fully in

You have the power to battle inflammation, disease, and mental illness. then let go.

Breathe fully in

You are the master of your own chemistry, you are the alchemist, then let go.

In summary, the Wim Hof Method uses conscious deep breathing and cold exposure to connect the user with the deepest parts of the brain, and therefore the ability to control one’s physiology. But how does one actually control what is happening in the body? This is where mindset, belief, and focus come into play.

When Wim teaches his method, he first convinces his students of the power we all have to influence our physiology. But this human ability should be common knowledge; the placebo effect is an essential consideration in all clinical trials, dating back to 1747.

So, belief alone gives the mind the power to heal the body. The Wim Hof Method takes this power to the next level, training our interoceptive awareness and focus, thus giving us even more control over our physiology.

The implications of Wim’s research have not yet been fully realized. Already there are many testimonials of people using the Wim Hof Method to overcome issues with autoimmune disease, depression, and performance. Wim believes this is just the beginning — he claims his method can also alleviate problems with cardiovascular disease, anxiety, PTSD, and bipolar disorder.

Wim Hof has proven beyond speculation that we are more adaptable to stress and more capable of control in our bodies than we previously thought possible. Today, Wim continues his mission to fully understand the power of the human mind and to share his findings with the world.

Reading about Wim Hof and the science behind his method is all well and good, but feeling is understanding. Wim often emphasizes he is not special — his technique is accessible to everyone. And so, I encourage you to try the Wim Hof Method for yourself; you can experience the increase in energy, mood, and performance that comes with conscious breathing and interoceptive focus on one’s physiology.

If you want to learn more about the mental and physical health benefits related to open water swimming and cold exposure, feel free to join our ICEWIM Facebook group.

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