Wim Hof Method
How can the Wim Hof Method nourish your soul?
The Wim Hof Method is a simple, three-pillar approach to improve health, build resilience and boost performance. It is the use of specific breathing exercises, integrated with a mindfulness practice followed by submerging the body in icy cold water, while maintaining a calm and centred mind.
According to Wim Hof, the power of this therapy lies in the combination of cold therapy, breathwork, commitment and focus to achieve real health benefits for both the mind and body.
At the core is cold therapy, which involves training the body to withstand extreme cold temperatures for numerous health benefits. The second pillar, breathwork, uses controlled breathing exercises to release energy, rebalance the nervous system and build resiliency. The Wim Hof breathing techniques are believed to increase oxygen levels in body and brain, thus providing greater adrenaline and strength. The last pillar, Commitment, is all about mindset. This requires delving into uncomfortable territory, strengthening willpower to gain control over the body.
Pioneered by Dutch adventurer, endurance athlete and philosopher Wim Hof (also known as “The Iceman”), developed the three-pronged method through years of self-exploration and training. As such, the Wim Hof Method is designed to help people realise their full potential and achieve exceptional goals.
The Wim Hof Method Academy oversees the training of all registered instructors, providing continued support and upholding safety and quality standards of the Wim Hof Method. Certified Wim Hof Method instructors must have a demonstrated ability to educate people and a minimum of two years of experience in teaching, coaching or similar, before being able to receive training from the academy.
Benefits of the Wim Hof Method
The science behind the Wim Hof Method reports some astonishing results, and suggests numerous benefits for both the body and mind.
Initial scientific tests demonstrated that using his own method, Wim Hof was capable of voluntarily influencing his autonomic nervous system – the control system that acts largely unconsciously to regulate bodily functions such as heartbeat and blood pressure.
These results were subsequently reproduced in a larger group of people. In this research, Wim Hof Method practitioners who were injected with the bacterial endotoxin, E. Coli were able to gain control of their nervous system and immune response and experienced less flu-like symptoms than the control group. As such, these techniques may offer benefits for conditions that relate to persistent and chronic inflammation.
Another recent study, known as the ‘Brain over Body’ study, reported that the Wim Hof Method activates areas of the brain that are associated with pain suppression, self-reflection and well-being.
The Wim Hof Method may assist in relieving symptoms related to:
- Arthritis, rheumatism and osteoarthritis
- Autoimmune diseases
- Blood pressure
- Circulation and cardiovascular conditions
- Concentration, focus and problem solving
- Energy and vitality
- Flexibility, endurance and strength
- Headaches and migraines
- Immunity issues
- Inflammation and swelling
- Insomnia and sleep disorders
- Mental health
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Nervous system and neurological conditions
- Sports performance
- Stress and tension
- Weight control and obesity
What to expect from a Wim Hof Method session
The protocol begins with breathing exercises. It is recommended to practice these soon after waking or before eating when the stomach is empty. The first step is to assume a meditative position, followed by 30 – 40 deep breaths in short, powerful bursts. After the last exhalation, you are encouraged to let all the air out of your body and hold yourself empty until you feel the urge to breathe again.
Breathwork is usually followed by cold exposure. This can be in the form of a cold shower or plunging yourself into icy water.
It is important to remember that there may be significant risks involved with exposing yourself to extreme temperatures without adequate training. It is, therefore, always advisable to consult a qualified health professional before commencing any wellness journey. If you have an injury or an underlying health issue, speak to a certified Wim Hof Instructor, who will be happy to address these concerns.