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Wim Hof Breathing – Method & Benefits – Boost Your Health

The Wim Hof breathing method has taken the world by storm over the past few years. It has become a part of my daily ritual, and anyone who practices Wim Hof breathing regularly knows how life-changing it can be. And the Wim Hof BBC TV Series, Freeze The Fear With Wim Hof, has brought Wim Hof breathing, along with cold exposure therapy, to the attention of millions. 

So, what is all the fuss about Wim Hof breathing? And how can you benefit from making it a part of your daily routine? This article explains all about Wim Hof breathing and The Wim Hof Method, so you can decide if you want to try it.

Wim hof breathing method

Who is Wim Hof?

Wim Hof, also known as “The Iceman” for his incredible ability to withstand the extreme cold for long periods, is a Dutch motivational speaker, author and record-breaking athlete. He previously held a Guinness World Record for swimming under ice and prolonged full-body contact with ice, and holds a record for a barefoot half marathon on ice and snow. He attributes his ability to control systems in his body that were previously thought to be autonomous to the Wim Hof breathing method, along with meditation and regular exposure to the cold. Wim is the author of The Wim Hof Method.

Wim hof method cold exposure
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What is Wim Hof Breathing?

The Wim Hof breathing method is a type of breathwork exercise that follows a specific protocol. Essentially, Wim Hof breathing is hyperventilating in a controlled way. It involves breathing in fully then letting the air out of your lungs for a number of repetitions. Then, after fully exhaling, you remain with your lungs empty for as long as you can until you feel the urge to breathe. You then take a full, deep breath and hold it for 15 seconds. After letting go of this recovery breath, you repeat the process for 3-4 rounds.

How to do Wim Hof breathing

Whilst the Wim Hof breathing method can be adapted to suit you and how you feel, there are principles to follow that form the basis of the technique.

Here are the steps for the Wim Hof breathing method:

  1. Take in a strong inhalation through the nose.
  2. Let out a relaxed exhalation through the mouth.
  3. Repeat for 30 breaths.
  4. On the 30th breath, exhale to 90 percent and hold for as long as you can.
  5. When you feel your body really needs to take a breath, inhale fully and hold for 15 seconds before releasing.
  6. Repeat steps 1-5 for 3-4 rounds of breathing.

Wim Hof breathing for beginners

If you are just starting out, you might feel more comfortable using the Wim Hof breathing App, which guides you every step of the way on how to do the method correctly.

What are the Wim Hof breathing benefits?

Whilst the science is not entirely conclusive, there is good evidence to suggest that this kind of breathing can have a host of health benefits. These benefits mainly relate to the reduction of inflammation, which can be helpful in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and auto-immune disorders.
According to the Wim Hof website, among other things, the Wim Hof Method can give you increased energy, better sleep, reduced stress levels, heightened focus and determination, increased willpower and a stronger immune system.

What does the science say about Wim Hof breathing?

Scientists are still learning about the full impact of Wim Hof’s breathing technique. But some of the benefits that are supported by scientific evidence include voluntary influence of the nervous system and immune system, anti-inflammatory effects, decreases in flu-like symptoms, improved oxygen delivery during exercise, reductions in altitude sickness and increased levels of nervous system neurotransmitters.
And there is ongoing research regarding the effects of Wim Hof breathing on the brain and metabolic activity, physical endurance, mental health, the immune system, inflammation, and pain.
For me, I go by how it makes me feel. Many people describe how Wim Hof breathing gets you “high on your own supply.” And that is no exaggeration. After a few rounds, your whole body is tingling from your fingers to your toes. Within a few minutes, I can go from feeling tired and lethargic, to feeling vibrant and full of energy, ready to take on the day. And surely that can only be a good thing, right?

Can Wim Hof breathing help with anxiety?

These days, mental health is on our radar more and more. Anxiety is experienced by everyone on occasion, but some suffer more frequently than others, and in some cases it can be a daily struggle. Techniques for controlling anxiety often involve focussing on your breathing, so it makes sense that Wim Hof breathing can help with anxiety.
I have found that a few rounds of Wim Hof breathing can really calm me down if I am ever feeling anxious.

Can Wim Hof breathing help with my sleep?

Wim hof breathing helps improve sleep

Yes, I noticed that whether I did Wim Hof breathing before bed, or at other times, my sleep quality improved dramatically. Wim Hof breathing is scientifically proven to increase oxygen levels in the blood, activate your parasympathetic nervous system and reduce stress levels, which all contribute to better sleep. And when you consider the meditative qualities of the practice, the intense focus on the breath keeping you in the present moment, it all makes sense that Wim Hof breathing would help you sleep better.

What does Wim Hof breathing do to the body?

Wim says that his method alkalises the blood and improves the chemical balance within the body, removing stress and inflammation, and improving the immune system. Personally, I can tell it is doing something to relax me, and I can feel tingling sensations all over my body.

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