Take a deep breath in … and a slow breath out. Now that you feel calm and centred, let’s talk about the amazing benefits of breathing. More importantly, a breathing method focused on improving your health, tested by wellness icons like Gywneth Paltrow and Oprah!
Wim Hof, athlete and motivational speaker, has curated a breathing method that involves intense cold exposure for brief periods of time, which has shown some amazing health benefits amongst the ‘cold plunge’ crowd. This breathing method combines periods of hyperventilation and holding your breath to help you connect to your body on a deeper level, shocking your body into its instinctual ability to adapt for survival.
Hof says his method takes a meditative approach to improve health and well-being. The people who partake in this method claim that hyperventilation leads to increased levels of oxygen in the blood, which enables you to hold your breath for longer.
The Wim Hof Method has 3 pillars:
- Breathing exercises: This starts with simple deep breathing exercises and briefly holding your breath in. The method advances to intervals of hyperventilation followed by longer periods of breath-holding.
- Cold exposure: The method also involves cold exposure, first through cold showers and eventually progressing to ice baths. Practitioners use breathing techniques to help them better tolerate the cold.
- Commitment: Mastering the other two pillars requires a significant amount of patience and dedication.
People are taught specific methods of controlled deep breathing. This can be practiced alone or in combination with cold therapy.
One round of the Wim Hof Method breathing technique includes the following steps:
- Take in a strong inhalation through the nose.
- Let out a relaxed exhalation through the mouth.
- Repeat for 30 breaths.
- On the 30th breath, exhale to 90% and hold for as long as you can.
- When you feel your body really needs to take a breath, inhale fully and hold for 15 seconds before releasing.
Repeat for 3 consecutive rounds
Benefits of this method
The Wim Hof Method is a type of meditation to reduce stress and anxiety.
This method offers a range of benefits including:
- reduction in anxiety
- greater feelings of wellness
- a deeper connection to oneself
- better immunity
- less physical stress and tension
- Improved mood
We often hear that deep calm breaths helps in stressful situations, but hyperventilation generally — not only in the Wim Hof Method specifically — suggests that rapid breathing may relax the brain and decrease elevated pressure in the skull!
Tips for beginners
- If you are unable to breathe through your nose due to congestion or other reasons, mouth breathing is acceptable.
- Consciously relax your jaw and the muscles in your neck and upper shoulders. Otherwise, you may experience tension headaches.
- Let go of any competitive mindset. It doesn’t matter how long you hold the 30th breath.
- While holding your breath, use a nose clip or pinch your nose to avoid taking in micro breaths of air.
This method works really well for athletes who want to improve performance. If you’re trying this breathing method – please do so with caution.
For now, just keep breathing…
Featured Image: Pexel