Looking after our health is a well documented case of eating well, taking regular exercise, avoiding stress where possible, getting plenty of restful, nourishing sleep and reducing our alcohol intake.
But what if we could do more than that? What if we could utilise what we already have - our innate ability to adapt and survive - to be even healthier, more successful and have a stronger immune system?
Well, we can! And it’s all hidden in the power of the Wim Hof Method. So what is the Wim Hof Method, how do we do it and what are the benefits?
What is the Wim Hof Method?
The Wim Hof Method is a method of breathing that allows you to gain a greater awareness of your breath and to learn how to manipulate your breathing to your advantage.
It also utilises the benefits of cold therapy, and the two are tied up together with a personal commitment to master the breathing techniques and withstand the cold.
The three “powerful pillars” of the Wim Hof Method; cold therapy, breathing and commitment, are the basis of the method, and once mastered, can lead to exceptional benefits.
Here’s a little more on all three pillars:
Regular exposure to the cold brings multiple benefits, including an increase in the ‘good fat’ of the body - otherwise known as brown adipose tissue, that produces more heat and increases the metabolic rate, leading to increased fat and calorie burning potential.
Cold therapy can also benefit the immune system by reducing inflammation within the body, help to keep the hormones balanced, improve sleep quality and improve the mood by releasing feel good endorphins.
Most of the time, we're unaware of our breath, but advocates of the Wim Hof Method say that by controlling our breathing in a certain way, we’re able to increase our oxygen levels, which holds many benefits.
These benefits include an increase in energy levels, reduced levels of stress and an immune system stronger and better equipped to deal with infectious bacteria, viruses and fungi.
Exposing our bodies to extremes of cold and consciously focusing on our breath both require a great level of commitment and focus to get right.
That’s why the Wim Hof Method is taught in person and online, the world over.
What does the Wim Hof Method do?
There are multiple benefits to practising the Wim Hof Method. These benefits include those mentioned above, such as an increase in thermally active brown adipose tissue, a better immune response and improved sleep.
Here’s a full list of the benefits of combing the three pillars of the Wim Hof Method:
- Increased energy, determination, focus and creativity
- A stronger immune response to help fight infectious pathogens
- Improved sleep patterns leading to more nourishing, beneficial sleep
- Improved sports performance and recovery
- Improved tolerance to the cold
- Reduced stress
Will the Wim Hof Method help to improve my skin?
Yes! As well as all the other benefits of adopting the Wim Hof Method into your life, it will also help to improve your skin.
The shock from jumping straight into a cold water shower helps to make your heart beat faster, and in doing so, helps to move oxygen and skin boosting nutrients to the outermost part of the body - the skin.
This increase in oxygen and nutrients helps to nourish the skin, helping it appear healthier, more hydrated and glowy.
Is the Wim Hof Method scientific?
Yes, very. There are lots of scientific studies that back up the claimed benefits of the Wim Hof Method.
At the heart of the scientific research is challenging the view that the autonomic nervous system and the innate immune system cannot be influenced - that is, we have no conscious control over our nervous system or immune system.
But there is now science that accepts that we can voluntarily influence these biological systems. Numerous scientific papers conclude that the method can influence everything from pain management, brain activity and metabolic activity.
There have also been studies that suggest the method can help manage autoimmune conditions caused by chronic inflammation, which is an exciting area of research for the future.
How does the Wim Hof Method keep the body alkaline?
There is emerging evidence that the Wim Hof Method of breathing can, over time, make the blood slightly more alkaline. This is thought to be due to the alkalising effect of oxygenation - adding more oxygen to the blood, displacing carbon dioxide, which is acidic.
A more alkaline state is thought to help protect against disease, but the science is yet to fully confirm this.
How to perform the Wim Hof Method
Since the Wim Hof Method depends on three critical pillars, it’s essential to work on each of the three pillars to master them and combine them to gain the benefits.
You can sign up to classes to learn the method and join in activities and travel adventures with official Wim Hof Method instructors to apply the method to extremes of cold exposure and endurance. Or you can learn online from a range of eLearning videos and tutorials.
But in a nutshell, here are the basics of each of the three pillars:
How to perform cold therapy at home
Just like professional athletes who partake in ice baths to improve their stamina and performance, we can all start the day with… a cold shower!
Having a cold shower in the morning helps you to start the day mindfully and in the present. It forces you out of your comfort zone and builds self discipline and improves your tolerance towards feeling cold.
It’s also great for giving the energy boost so many of us need first thing in the morning, and it’s free from caffeine!
How to perform the Wim Hof Method breathwork
Mastering the cold shower might be physically challenging, but mastering the breathwork necessary for success in the method can be mentally challenging. It’s a case of repeating it so often that it becomes second nature.
Since it’s quite lengthy to describe, we’ve left it to the experts, who are masters at the method. Read Chengeer Lee’s account of the three steps of the breathing method; oxygenation, hypoxic stress and oxygen exhaustion.
How to stay committed to the Wim Hof Method
The overriding element of the Wim Hof Method working for you is to believe that it will. For many, despite the challenge of cold therapy and mindful breathing, this is the most difficult part.
How often should I perform the Wim Hof Method of breathing?
Chengeer Lee advises committing short term first, and suggests a 30 day challenge of daily cold showers and dedicated breathwork. After this time, you may have become so accustomed to it, any other way of waking up and breathing could feel alien to you.
Who is Wim Hof?
Famously known as the Ice Man, Wim Hof is a Dutch philosopher, endurance athlete and adventurer.
He’s well known for being able to endure extremely cold temperatures and has trained his breathing so much that it also controls his heart rate and blood circulation so that he’s able to survive at such extreme conditions.
Through his controlled breathing techniques and beliefs, he’s been able to scale some of the highest and coldest mountains on earth wearing just a pair of shorts, withstand two hours immersed in ice cubes and run a marathon distance in the hot, arid conditions of the Namib Desert without stopping for any water.
Wim Hof believes that we can all achieve the same, through using his methods and philosophies to reach exceptional goals.
Are you up for the life changing benefits of mastering the Wim Hof Method?