First, let me be clear. THIS IS NOT INTENDED TO BE A CURE. Rather, this is just a suggestion of healthy practices that have been found to prevent or make us less vulnerable to many illnesses. It has also been found to significantly improve mental health with regular practice. You can check out a detailed review of the benefits and the science behind their effectiveness HERE
It is called the "Wim Hof Method." Wim Hof, also known as "the Iceman," has been teaching his method for years and there have been multiple studies showing evidence that the practice of these techniques can reduce the frequency, duration, and intensity of sicknesses. In one study, participants were injected with the E-Coli virus after practicing the Wim Hof method and they experienced very few symptoms!
The "Wim Hof Method" consists of three main components; breathing, cold exposure, and meditation. It works best when all are practiced, but any of them used alone can also prove to be beneficial.
I personally have been using these techniques for the past few years and I have not been sick in almost that same amount of time. I have also had several clients improve their health by starting these routines. I hope you all will take a look too!
Below is a brief explanation of the breathing technique. HOWEVER, I highly suggest that you do a little self-test before you begin. The test is simple, just get a timer and see how long you can hold your breath. You will also need a timer for the breathing exercise below.
- Begin in a relaxed, seated position. DO NOT DO THIS WHILE DRIVING OR ANYTHING THAT REQUIRES ATTENTION!
- Take a very deep "belly breath" in, then fully exhale. This is considered one breath. Do this 27 - 30 more times. You may start to feel a little lightheaded after about 15 to 20 breaths, but this is okay. Just take about 10 more breaths after you notice the lightheadedness.
- After you fully exhale your last breath of the cycle, hold your breath and start the timer. You should notice that you have less of an urge to breathe. This is because, though your lungs have been emptied, your blood has been oxygenated. At some point, you will have the natural urge (that may feel like panic) to breathe. If possible, try to calm yourself and hold for a little longer. Obviously, do not push yourself too much at first. However, most people who do this only one or two times notice that they can hold their breath for ALMOST TWICE AS LONG as the self-test you did before doing the breathing exercise.
Holding your breath for a long time may not be a skill most of us are looking to acquire, so it is important to emphasize the meaning of this accomplishment, rather than the skill itself. The fact that you are able to hold your breath, in essence, shows how easy it is to pump more oxygen into your blood; which I think we can all agree is a very good thing. Not only does it help with maintaining/improving health by reducing inflammation, etc (as you can read in detail on the website referenced above), but this can also improve performance!
Another cool experiment is the push-up test. Basically, you first see how many push-ups you can do as of right now. Then, do the breathing exercise and see how many push-ups you can do while holding your breath after the last exhale. Yes, with no air in your lungs! I know it sounds crazy, but I have tested this with friends, as well as clients, and every time the participant can do nearly double the number of push-ups he or she could do before the breathing experiment!
Wim Hof suggests doing three cycles (preferably consecutively) of the breathing routine daily for the best physical and mental health benefits. However, I personally think even one cycle is beneficial, but three is even better.
If all of this is confusing, feel free to contact me to ask questions or go to the Wim Hof website. There is also an app available that is an excellent guide through all three of the Wim Hof Method components.
Be on the lookout for a future blog about the benefits of the next component of the Wim Hof Method, Cold Exposure.