I’ve wanted to do this one for a long time, because it has had such an impact on my life and boosted my immune system. It’s finally here and today, I am going to write about the great, the wise, the powerful Wim Hof and his breathing method. I’ll try not to reduce him just to his great method, but write a little bit about him, because I think that in this case, it is important to know where he and his knowledge is coming from. As always, links to the studies and resources are going to be below the article.
This man sometimes called “The Ice-Man” just bursts with energy and positivity. If you spend some time listening to him, watching him or being with him. It’s easy to imagine what an effect it could have or is already having on you! He is 58 years old and full of energy and enthusiasm. He was doing his thing from around 15-16 years old, when he wasn’t interested in much of a bullshit that was around him. He was more interested in the purpose of life and what it meant. He read a lot and studied all kinds of philosophies. Studying eastern philosophies, he of course read about meditation and its practises. There, he discovered that breathing is very important, along with some of the breathing methods of yogis to overcome cold.
That’s a basis to his methods and development of his philosophies. Around his twenties, he was just walking around this lake. It had a bit of an ice crust on it. He had this temptation to just go in. He didn’t know what it was, but he did it. As he went in, pattern of his breathing changed. That was a trigger of all of it. He was developing his breathing method as well as being able to stay in cold for longer periods of time for many years. He owns many world records (currently, he has 24 of them). The thing was, spreading his message wasn’t very easy, thanks to its nature. Everyone was saying that it’s only him and that only he is special.
His philosophy and his method is all about body and mind connection. That is why many people couldn’t get over it. Couldn’t really join him on his journey. A lot of the stuff was controversial. It was only later, that science techniques were developed and “caught up” on him. He was being studied by scientists and proving them his theories and methods. He also learned all the science that goes along with it allowing him to spread his message more easily, which is basically “Become strong, happy and healthy.”.
What it actually is? Let’s say, you have some problem e.g. cold or flu. First, you alter your breathing. You take 30-40 full breaths-in and don’t fully breath out, just kind of let go a bit. It’s basically controlled hyperventilation, with breathing out just a little bit. You CAN pass out at the end, though it happens very rarely. You are going to start feel tingling in your body and muscles. After you finish, breath out and hold. You should be able to do that for much longer than you usually did. It is because a need to breath isn’t due to lack of oxygen, but due to too much of carbon-dioxide being in your system. This method will basically get rid out of a lot of CO2 which normally just stays in your lungs (as you can’t ever fully empty your lungs). It’s going to take longer for the CO2 to build back up (your cells produce it), meaning, you are going to be able to hold your breath for a longer period of time. After feeling an urge to breath, breath in again, you hold that for another 30 seconds. Here is quick video of Wim actually guiding it! https://youtu.be/A9zS94x2nd8
The most important thing, in all of this, is your mind. You are going to focus, on the thing which is bothering you e.g. your throat during cold and try to heal it. Now, I know that sounds fucking stupid and you think that that’s ridiculous, but bear with me! It’s funny that some people wouldn’t believe that this could work, though they are in a society and a world, where placebo are perfectly functional and normal thing. What is placebo? Well, it’s the same thing, your mind altering your body! Your thoughts can alter your body to a high degree. This knowledge will help you at the end, because you really need to believe in what you are doing, as with placebo. I am going to discuss the body and mind relationship in more detail in a different article, as it is fascinating to me and has to do with almost every aspect of our life.
Altered state of consciousness
The method, will send you into a different state of consciousness, a kind of meditation. I don’t know if this is for 100% people, but for me it’s really like a meditation which makes me aware of my body much more than I normally would. Your blood pH levels are going to drop, which is also beneficial and makes you feel less pain. You are going to produce as much adrenaline, as person who is just before jumping his first bungee jump. That’s going to help you with the distress you are trying to confront. It also raises your cortisol levels, but in a temporary “fight or flight” manner, which is actually how nature meant it to be. That’s going to help you fight with the sickness too! Although, chronically increased cortisol levels by stress and our way of living are harmful. In that state, body isn’t able to react to an increase of cortisol, therefore to fight with the sickness. It is because cortisol is signalling to the organism that there’s something wrong with it. It starts to fight. On the other hand, when you have your cortisol levels constantly high, the body isn’t able to react to even higher levels, which are also going to be harder to produce.
Oxygen and CO2
What are those tingling sensations in your muscles and light headedness? It’s due to lack of oxygen in your tissue. Wait what? Lack of oxygen? How is that possible, weren’t we just breathing in a tons of oxygen and breathing out CO2? Yes, that’s precisely the reason! You got rid of almost all of the CO2 in your lungs, therefore there is not much of it in your blood. CO2 has its purpose too, allowing blood to actually let go of oxygen into the tissue. Your blood oxygen saturation should now be around 99, but lack of CO2 means that blood cells are going to hold on the oxygen it has! Now you have a lot of oxygen in your blood, but tissues have lack of it. That’s why the breath retention is so important! Your cells are producing CO2, so it’s going to slowly build back up, letting your blood to relieve the oxygen into the tissue.
Now, you might ask isn’t that fucking dangerous? It shouldn’t be, because of such a short period of time. The most dangerous thing is that you might pass out, so you can’t try this in a water or standing up. It’s advised to sit or lay down during the whole experience. Just don’t do some crazy shit during or with the method and you should be fine. Just a caution type of thing, which would be silly not to mention.
There are a lot of people who are doing this e.g. Tim Ferriss, Josh Waitzkin, Joe Rogan and many others. Almost everyone I’ve heard felt some of the benefits of the method. Why I wrote this article? Well, when I first came upon this, I was blown away. Altering your immune system by your mind and endocrine system is just amazing! I have been doing this for a year and a half and I have registered improvement mainly during the sickness. I often had colds, but now I am able to fight them more efficiently. I think I am doing it and it works for me pretty well, but the thing is, I don’t have a control group, so I won’t ever be sure. I am pretty fucking sure anyway tho, hah. I need to, to continue. My biggest problem for a first few months of trying this method was me. I couldn’t kind of get over my negative doubtful mindset I had, which then ruins the thing (I was fairly in, but I felt it’s almost unconscious feeling of it wouldn’t work for me or something). I somehow overcame that, and I am fully in, enjoying the fruits of the information I was given and it’s amazing! I even researched more into the topic, which is pretty much physiology, psychology and biochemistry, exactly what I enjoy and study!
One last thing, you can also try cold showers at least at the end of each shower. It goes hand in hand with the breathing and you are going have much stronger immune system overall.
That is all for this article, hope you enjoyed it. Have a beautiful day and stay healthy and happy! Until next time!
Interested in other ways of improving your mental and physical health? Check out some of my articles regarding this matter!
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