Let me tell you about Wim Hof breathing. “Why is it called Wim Hof breathing?” you ask.
Wim Hof is a freaky, awesome dude from the Netherlands. “How freaky?” you ask. This is him:
He’s also known as the “Iceman”. He holds at least 26 world records (probably more by now), including:
- Immersing himself in ice for 1:52 hours
- Completing a half marathon north of the Arctic circle (temps around -20° C) in 5:25 hours, wearing nothing but shorts (yup, no shoes either)
- Running a full marathon in the Namib desert without water
In interviews, he keeps making the point that there’s nothing special about him, and that everyone can do things like this. To prove it, every winter he hikes up Kilimanjaro with a group of ordinary people, including elderly people, people with rheumatism, people with cancer, etc. Of course, none of them wear anything but shorts and shoes - and they finish within two days.
How do they do it? With the help of Wim’s breathing technique. It’s really easy and works as follows:
- Get comfortable, either sitting down or, preferably, lying down. Don’t do this while standing up or walking.
- Breathe in until your lungs are full. Don’t breathe all the way out (leave like 20 % of air in your lungs). Repeat more or less swiftly for 30 - 40 times. You can think of it as being essentially voluntary hyperventilation.
- After the last breath out, retain your breath as long as possible.
- When you feel the urge to breathe, breathe in again until your lungs are full. Hold your breath for 10 - 15 seconds (longer isn’t necessary). Try to “squeeze” the oxygen into your head as you do this. Then breathe out until your lungs are completely empty.
- Perform steps 2 - 4 at least three times in a row (or more if you feel like it).
- Relax and enjoy the feeling (typically, your whole body will be tingling).
- Take a cold shower (as cold as possible).
Now what’s going on here?
- All of the cells in your body become super oxygenated. This can help with all kinds of illnesses.
- Your blood pH rises to around 7.8 (short-term, so no ill effects from this).
- A lot of adrenaline is released. You’re basically emulating negative stress in a relaxed environment, which turns it into positive stress (a good thing).
- Can combat depression and anxiety.
- Strengthens your immune system.
- Builds up brown fat over time, enabling your body to thermoregulate itself (both in the cold and heat) - no more need for your clothes or air conditioning to do it for you. Plus, the brown fat burns up your regular white fat over time, helping you lose unnecessary weight.
- Hot showers/baths are proven to contribute to depression.
Sounds too good to be true? Check out these studies performed at universities all over the world: https://www.wimhofmethod.com/science
At worst, you’ll try it out and go “meh, not my thing”. The method is as simple as I described it above. All the information is available for free. If it sounds interesting, give it a try