Updated: Oct 26
The official Wim Hof Method website was used as the resource for the information below.
The Wim Hof Method is a wellness lifestyle built on the foundation of 3 pillars: Breathing, Cold Therapy (also known as cold plunges), and Commitment. This lifestyle emphasizes tapping into the human potential and obtaining the benefits that come with stimulating deep rooted physiological functions. Notably, the method is accessible to most, if not all people, as it requires consistent effort rather than resources that might not be available. In reference to the breathing and commitment pillars, equipment is not required in order to practice this daily. Similarly, for cold therapy, although a nearby lake or designated outdoor ice bath are great forms of gaining the benefits, they are not necessary. That being said, a bathtub full of cold water or a cold shower are equally effective ways of participating, in a way that is accessible to the majority.
With any lifestyle, it is important to do your research and assess if it aligns with your individually unique make up so keep that in mind before committing to something new. In general, those that practice the lifestyle have noted improved physical and mental health after consistent practice of each pillar below.
The most important thing about this pillar is the intentional awareness of breathing and increasing oxygen levels in the brain and body through technique. According to the Wim Hof website, breathing has a strong impact on the chemical and physiological activities in the body. Therefore, understanding and utilizing this to your benefit will help unlock and maximize the power of breathing. One of Wim Hof's breathing techniques is as follows:
Find yourself in a comfortable position, whether that is sitting with a strong upright posture or lying down, so long as your lungs are not restricted.
Close your eyes and gain awareness of your breathing. Take a deep inhale; pretend you are filling your belly from the bottom to the top until you have filled your belly and lungs with air. Exhale from your mouth without force until you have expelled your entire breath. Repeat this 30-40 times in short and powerful bursts. The Wim Hof Method website states, "you may experience light-headedness and tingling sensations in your fingers and feet. These side effects are completely harmless."
For the final breath, take a deep inhale and hold that breath until you need to breathe again.
When you need to breathe again, inhale to fill your belly and lungs and hold for 15 seconds then release it. That completes the first breathing cycle and can be repeated 3-4 times. The increase in oxygen can provide a state of mind that is excellent for meditation or simply enjoying bliss.
2. Cold Therapy
Again, the intention here is key, so purposeful exposure to cold water opens the door to many physical and mental health benefits. As mentioned, cold therapy or cold plunge can come in the form of whatever is most accessible to you, whether that is a cold shower, a nearby lake, an ice bath, or anything else you can expose your body to or submerge in cold water for a period of time. The physical benefits of doing this could include, a boost in metabolism, reduce inflammation and swelling, soothe sore muscles, and may even improve immune response. Whereas, mental benefits include, improved sleep quality, increased focus, and awareness, reduced stress, etc. The Wim Hof Official website provides scientific research to accompany the listed benefits so visit their platform to dive deeper into the studies and research conducted.
The pillar that ties it all together. Commitment ensures that you will actively seek the full potential of gaining these benefits. This method is a lifestyle geared towards understanding and exercising your capabilities. The frequent recorded outcome of practicing the Wim Hof Method is an increased sense of well-being and discipline that can be applied to other areas of your life. Willpower and self-control are huge factors in creating a commitment mindset. However, these skills can be quite challenging to master in the modern world, with access to a steady influx of information on a daily basis and instant gratification through media. Wim Hof suggests that we may have slowly lost the ability to have willpower but by actively exercising control of your mind and body it can contribute to overall improved physical and mental health. These skills can be trained, and that is exactly what you are working on here. If you want to practice this method all you have to do is show up and dedicate yourself.
So, as one of the most influential wellness lifestyles, the Wim Hof Method is certainly worth learning about and potentially incorporating into your life. Of course, we suggest you collect as much information as you can to determine if this is right for you and your body.