wim hof breathing method benefits

5 Super Benefits of the Wim Hof Breathing Method

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We all unconsciously breathe about 22,000 times a day, but have you ever considered that there’s a wrong and right way to breathe? One of the right ways to breathe is by utilizing the Wim Hof breathing method, which offers several super benefits.

The Wim Hof breathing method offers a variety of benefits for the practitioner if used routinely and properly. These super benefits include better sleep, better mental health, a stronger immune system, higher energy levels, and increased sports and injury recovery.

You’re already breathing every day, so why not give this method a try? There’s no long-term commitment, and it can improve several facets of your life in just a few minutes. Let’s discover the Wim Hof breathing method, the steps to perform the breathing, and the five super benefits it can offer you!

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What is the Wim Hof Breathing Method?

You may have heard of the extreme Dutch athlete that swam 66 meters below freezing water or climbed the highest mountains while wearing a pair of shorts. The man who accomplished these tasks and 19 other Guinness World Records is Wim Hof, aka “The Iceman.”

While accomplishing these impressive physical feats by increasing his body temperature at will, Wim Hof coined the “Wim Hof breathing method.” The Wim Hof breathing method is the second pillar of the Wim Hof method that seeks to cultivate an optimal state of mind and body through strategic breathing.

The Wim Hof breathing method is a form of deep breathing that trains the body to breathe actively. When the Wim Hof breathing method is performed, an optimal oxygen level is achieved within the body. Here’s what happens to your body:

  1. Oxygen levels in the blood increase.
  2. The oxygenated blood circulates to the cells all across your body.
  3. The cells take in the oxygen and start functioning optimally, unearthing numerous benefits.

Is the Wim Hof Breathing Method Credible?

Wim Hof has worked side-by-side with scientists to gain credibility regarding his breathing method and claimed health benefits. There are reputable and completed studies that prove certain benefits of the Wim Hof breathing method. However, some studies are currently ongoing, and the research is not definite yet.

But let’s take a look at pivotal completed studies and what they found about the Wim Hof breathing method:

  • A 2018 study with Wayne State University revealed that those who practiced the Wim Hof breathing method (and the other two pillars) could activate certain parts of the brain more than the control group. The parts activated during the study include areas associated with pain suppression, self-reflection, and well-being.
  • A 2019 study with the Amsterdam Medical Center revealed that the Wim Hof method as a whole was able to reduce inflammatory markers in those with auto-immune disorders. With reduced inflammation, the quality of life for those with arthritis and other chronic inflammatory pain improved.
  • A 2020 study revealed that those who practiced the Wim Hof breathing method could elicit more anti-inflammatory chemicals and less pro-inflammatory chemicals from being produced within the body. It also suggested that the sympathetic nervous system can be voluntarily activated.

How is the Wim Hof Breathing Method Performed?

There are four steps involved in the Wim Hof breathing method and will take around 10 minutes to complete. If the steps are hard to follow or if you feel like you aren’t doing them correctly, feel free to follow this guided tutorial by Wim Hof himself.

Get Comfortable

To begin, assume a meditation posture. You may sit on a chair, sit on the floor, or lay down. Any position is okay as long as it’s comfortable and your lungs can expand freely without any blockage.

Like any other meditation-esque procedure, never practice while piloting a vehicle, walking, or while near a body of water. This is because the Wim Hof breathing method can temporarily affect motor control and, in rare cases, lead to loss of consciousness.

Take Deep Breaths

Inhale deeply through the nose or mouth, and then exhale unforced through the mouth. When performing each deep breath, feel as the air expands into your stomach and then up to your chest. These 30-40 deep breaths should be done in short and powerful bursts.

Light-headedness and tingling sensations in your fingers and feet may occur, and they are temporary side-effects that are not a cause for concern.

Hold a Final Breath

After the 30-40 deep breaths, inhale one final time and as deeply as you can. Let the air out through your mouth, and then stop breathing. Hold until you feel the need to breathe again. This should be around 30 seconds but will vary from person to person.

Take a Recovery Breath

Once the hold period ends, the final step is to take a recovery breath. To do so, draw a big breath and feel as the air fills up your stomach and chest. Hold this breath for 15 seconds, and then exhale through your mouth.

This completes the first round, and steps 1 through 4 should be followed another four times during a single interval. When you finish the steps, you’ll feel a calm state similar to that of meditation.

5 Super Benefits of the Wim Hof Breathing Method

So, now we’ve learned what the Wim Hof breathing method is and how to perform it, but what are all the benefits you can reap from this simple breathing method?

Like a domino effect, the following benefits are “super” because they are catalysts. These benefits lead to other benefits and will likely increase your overall quality of life.

You can even use the Wim Hof breathing method as a stress management technique at work!

1. Better Sleep

Whether you find yourself suffering from chronic sleep deprivation or it’s just an occasional thing, the Wim Hof breathing method can be pivotal towards better sleep. Remember, the Wim Hof breathing method is a form of deep breathing.

While there might not be research on Wim Hof breathing and sleep yet, there have been several studies on deep breathing and better sleep. The purpose of deep breathing methods like Wim Hof breathing is to enter a “hypometabolic state,” which is considered an anti-stress and restorative state.

With less stress and minimal mental arousal, you’ll fall asleep faster, and the sleep itself will be better quality. Better sleep itself can lead to a variety of further benefits; Some secondary benefits to the Wim Hof breathing method include:

  • Better mood
  • Better weight management
  • Strengthen your heart
  • Increase productivity
  • Improve memory

Better sleep also plays a role in the other super benefits described below, at least in some shape or form.

2. Boost Energy

With better quality sleep and more oxygen flowing through your body, you’ll feel a boost of energy. The optimal oxygen level within the blood will boost both physical and mental energy:

  • Since cells are the most functional when they have enough oxygen, you’ll be able to accomplish physical tasks easier. With cells working optimally, you’ll feel a surge of energy and complete tasks with less effort. This is especially the case if you’re sitting down for work or school for hours at a time.
  • In terms of mental energy, the Wim Hof breathing method is about breathing and letting go. By being in a calm state, the little things won’t matter, and you’ll feel less mentally taxed once you let go of stressors.

3. Strengthen the Immune System

Not only can strengthening an immune system prevent potential sickness, but it can reduce the symptoms of existing auto-immune and other illnesses. According to the Wim Hof official website, this breathing method can provide relief for:

  • Arthritis
  • Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Migraine

The reason the Wim Hof breathing method strengthens the immune system is that it eliminates excess stress. Stress has long been linked to unhealthy behaviors and cortisol—the “stress” hormone—which has a direct effect on suppressing immune system effectiveness. With less stress, your immune system will get stronger.

4. Increase Sports Recovery

With more oxygen flowing through your body, your cells work faster to heal you from any potential injuries and fatigue. We’ve been talking about mental stress, but intense exercise can accumulate physical stress on the body, which needs to be managed. Athletes such as Conor McGregor and Wim Hof themselves use the method when they perform intense body-taxing activities.

More than just sports recovery, recovery, in general, is improved when routinely using the Wim Hof breathing method. When combined with other healthy lifestyle habits, your body’s elevated healing and recovery will be the most noticeable.

This means faster recovery times for:

  • Cuts
  • Bruises
  • Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)
  • Aches
  • Illnesses

5. Improve Mental Health

Better sleep, being healthy, and feeling better in your own body can improve mental health—but there’s something else too. Even though the Wim Hof breathing method interval is only around 10 minutes, you get those 10 minutes all to yourself.

Being in that state of euphoria and absolute calmness can improve your mental health in a natural and safe way. Plus, having the time to reflect can increase mental resilience and help you manage daily stressors. Handling daily stressors properly can stop an unhealthy mental cycle from blooming in the first place.

Other Great Breathwork Resources

There are many resources for you to learn about breathwork (and to receive a breathwork certification if you want to take it to the next level) and put what you’ve been reading into practice. Another famous breathing technique is the Holotropic breathing technique. While each breathwork method is different, they offers various benefits that elevate your life.

Here are some breathwork resources for the Wim Hof breathing method:

Here are resources for other beneficial breathwork methods:

Conclusion

As you can see, the Wim Hof breathing method has several benefits and is easy to learn. There’s no need to commit to classes or paid guides unless you want to further your Wim Hof breathing expertise. The beauty of the method is that it can be practiced anytime and anywhere (excluding the safety hazards, of course).

At the end of the day, there’s nothing you’ll lose from giving the Wim Hof breathing method a try. It can be a pivotal change in your life for the better, and there’s no commitment. It’s used by millions of people and scientifically proven by eight different university studies.

There must be a reason for the Wim Hof breathing method’s popularity, right? Take the leap!