Breathing is something we’re always doing, and most of the time we are unconsciously doing so, as it’s regulated by the autonomic nervous system. However, most of us are unaware of the tremendous potential that breathing techniques can have on the body and health in general. The Wim Hof breathing method is a simple exercise you can do almost anywhere and has extremely powerful health benefits. This method is composed of three different pillars, which include breathing, cold therapy, and commitment. We will be focusing on the breathing aspect, and particularly the origins of this technique, and the science that backs up the claims.
This breathing method originates from an ancient technique called Tummo, which literally means ‘inner fire’. It was practiced by monks in Tibetan Buddhism, and they used it to stay warm in cold conditions. Tummo uses a combination of breathing and visualization techniques, which is used to enter a deep state of meditation that is ultimately used to increase a person’s ‘inner heat.’
According to Wim Hof himself, “Heightened oxygen levels hold a treasure trove of benefits, and the specialized breathing technique of the Wim Hof Method unearths them all: more energy, reduced stress levels, and an augmented immune response that swiftly deals with pathogens”. In other words, the way you breathe strongly affects the chemical and physiological activities in your body.
Let’s take a look at this transformative breathing technique in action by Wim Hof himself!
Guided Wim Hof Method Breathing
Source: Wim Hof/Youtube
Step 1 is to get into a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down. Step 2 is to clear your mind and take 30-40 deep breaths in short, powerful bursts. For step 3, after your last exhalation, you will inhale again deeply, and as you exhale and let the air out, you will hold your breath until you need to breathe again. Step 4 is known as the recovery breath. You will take one big breath, expanding your lungs to full capacity, and hold 15 seconds, and let go. As Wim himself has said, “Through decades of self-exploration and groundbreaking scientific studies, he has created a simple, effective way to stimulate these deep physiological processes and realize our full potential. The Wim Hof Method is about reconnecting us – to ourselves, to others, and to nature.” Practicing his method daily can have many positive effects on our well-being.
Some of the health benefits of this method include:
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