Testing out the Wim Hof Method - The Iceman
This is my first blog post!! For now, the content of this blog is going to be used in connection to my coaching. I am currently in the process of getting certified as a Coactive Coach so feel free to reach out and say hello if you are curious and want to find out more!
I first heard about Wim Hoff several years ago. I was exploring some vice documentaries and one about Wim’s story and his method popped up. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaMjhwFE1Zw)
At first glanced it seemed like some crazy cult where you do some weird breathing shit and then all of your health, and stress issues are magically solved. However, the more I watched it, the more it made sense, especially after seeing the extensive research studies and results being done on Wim and others he has taught his methods to.
When Wim popped up on my radar again several months ago, and I watched a couple more videos and decided I should give his methods a try.
For those of you who are not familiar with Wim Hoff here is some background info to get you up to speed…
Wim Hoff currently holds 26 world records for various feats of physical endurance and exposure to cold.
Hof completed a full marathon (42.195 kilometres (26.219 mi)), above the arctic circle in Finland, in temperatures close to −20 °C (−4 °F). Dressed in nothing but shorts, Hof finished in 5 hours and 25 minutes.
Hof broke the ice endurance record twice, in Inzell in February and in New York City in November. The Guinness World Record is now set for 1 hour and 52 minutes and 42 seconds by Hof. In September, Hof also ran a full marathon in the Namib Desert without water. The run was performed under the supervision of Dr. Thijs Eijsvogels.
How is this possible? Over the years, Hof has developed simple breathing techniques which increases his heart rate, adrenaline levels and blood alkalinity. These controlled breathing techniques in combination with exposure to the cold have allowed him to learn how to consciously activate the autonomic nervous system. The implications of which are huge.
The autonomic nervous system is responsible for the control of the bodily functions not consciously directed, such as breathing, the heartbeat, and digestive processes.
Being able to willingly fire his ANS, means that Wim can do things like, actively control his body temperature, and consciously fight off viruses.
(A study was done on Wim, where he was injected with a virus and he was able to activate his ANS and fight it off. A separate study was done on 12 other people that have learned Wim's method and they too were able to fight it off, whereas the control subjects were unable to do so.)
I am not usually one who jumps on the next greatest fad, or workout, or follows seemingly crazy people found on YouTube but for some reason Wim and his method this kept intriguing me. Wim is very charismatic in his own cooky but extreme way which makes it fun to listen to and watch. He is also extremely passionate and driven to share his knowledge with the world.
One of the other reasons I was so interested in the whole process is because at the core of Wim's method, there is an extremely strong connection to nature. I think we need more connection to nature, both for our own health and well-being, but also for the overall health of society and planet, but this thought is close to becoming a little disconnected rant which I will save for another time.
In the simplest sense, Wim believes (and has shown through numerous research studies) that by stripping away all of the conveniences of daily life and exposing ourselves to “extremes” is actually healthy. It allows us to gain more control over our bodies than was previously thought possible.
Wim and his associates are now looking at the potential benefits of his methods for people suffering from PTSD and depression.
(Note: I am not an expert. I am pulling my knowledge of his method from YouTube videos, his app, and some other blogs. Wim also has weekend workshops and a 10 week online program which I have not had the chance to try yet)
How do you do it?
1) Try to be in nature (calm, quiet, scenery with lots or greenery or water is ideal)
2) Breathe deeply in and out for 30-40 breaths (don’t fully exhale ALL the air from your lungs, but almost all the air, stay comfortable.) Make sure you are in a comfortable and safe spot. (i.e don't try while driving or in water) Once you’ve done about 20 you might feel tingly….accept it and go to it.)
3) Once you get to 30-40 breaths, exhale and hold your breath (record how long). When you need air again, breathe in deeply and hold it for 15-20 secs
4) Repeat this process 3-4 times
That’s it. Simple. But not easy. It takes focus and concentration and I find it extremely meditative.
My experience with it
I tried the breathing for the first time this early this January and I have been doing it about 2-3 times a week since then. Sometimes up to 5,6,7 times a week. I find it extremely meditative and energizing. I find the first round is always the hardest because I’m constantly fighting with my body which is trying to tell me I don’t need to work my lungs so hard for no apparent reason. Focusing hard to control your breathing and keep the rhythm for 30-40 breaths is harder than you would think.
During the first 10-15 breaths I sometimes feel a little light-headed but its usually around 20-25 breaths that I start to feel the effects. I will notice my hands start to get tingly and some pockets in my chest as well. Once I start to really “feel” it, I go for another 10-12 breaths and then exhale and hold. The first round I can usually hold my breath for 1 min. By the 4th round I can hold my breath for about 3 -3.5 mins. When I hold my breath, I find if I either focus on the tingly feeling and picture all the oxygen going to my limbs, or by observing the nature around me, the time goes by much faster. I try to accept and “go in” to the tingly feeling. Whenever I think about breathing and how long I've been holding my breath, it ruins it my focus and I can't hold my breath nearly as long.
Sometimes I like having my headphones in and having some chill beats on in the background. It is another little distraction that is nice to zone out too. But if I do, I always turn it off at some point and give myself some technology free time too!
After a session, I feel very spacy, but my mind is extremely clear. Its hard to describe because if you were talking to me right after I did it you would think I’m a huge stoner. my mind is crystal clear and energized, but I feel all spacey (like when you wake up from an amazing nap). I usually get extremely hungry doing it as well (always do the breathing on an empty stomach otherwise you can’t get full breaths!) I notice that my senses seem heightened. I feel like I can hear clearer, if that's even a thing (again, sounding like a total stoner). I also have a faster workout recovery and less stiffness after a breathing session.
Here are some other words/thoughts I jotted down after my last session
-light on my feet
-senses are heightened
-mind is clear
-my body is pumped up
- I don’t feel sore anymore, if I was stiff from a previous workout.
-perspective change (less stress about the little things)
-the best description I could come up with: You know that feeling when you do all the dishes, then you clean/organize your room and there is this sigh of relief because everything is in order and clear. All the little shit in is in the garbage or at least compartmentalized. I get that feeling from the breathing. Except instead of the physical space around me getting cleaned/organized, its my mind. It removes all the distractions, its open and clean. (I get this feeling often when I travel)
Overall, I have really enjoyed the breathing. I find that it is a more active and engaging form of meditation that triggers my whole body. It's like a mental and physical reset button. I'm not usually pushy but I made my brother and my girlfriend give it a try (they both enjoyed it for the record) and I would highly recommend it to anyone else. It may not be for everyone, especially the cold exposure part, but it's definitely worth exploring. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions, or just say hi! I would love to hear from you!
(Wim has an app $6. Its not necessary, but it does make it easier to track your progress. He also has an online program and in person workshops for those who are interested.)