How to Perform Wim Hof’s Signature Breathing Exercise
This is the start of the Wim Hof Method, we have practised it to varying levels of discipline within the weMove team from the full 10-week course to others adding the below exercises to their daily practice. Wim’s enthusiasm is infectious, his feats are undeniable if sometimes mind-boggling and the breathing exercise outlined does create a sense of calm, clarity and energy that inspires a curiosity to the power of the body and the importance of how we breathe.
Give it a go, that is the key. It is recommended to do this practice on an empty stomach. In his book, Hof recommends doing this right after waking in the morning.
Step 1 | Get Comfortable
Sit in a meditation posture, or whatever is comfortable for you to expand your lungs freely without any feeling of constriction.
Step 2 | 30 Power Breaths
Imagine you are blowing up a balloon. With your eyes closed, inhale through the nose or mouth and exhale through the mouth in powerful bursts. Keep a steady pace and use your midriff fully as though it is a balloon. Repeat this steadily 30 times. You might experience light-headedness and/or tingling sensations in the body.
Step 3 | The Hold – Retention After Exhalation
After the 30 rapid breath cycles, draw the breath in once more and fill the lungs to maximum capacity without using any force. Now, let the air out and hold for as long as you can without force. Hold the breath until you experience the gasp reflex.
Step 4 | Recovery Breath
Inhale to full capacity. Feel your chest expanding and when you are at full capacity, hold the breath for around 10 seconds and this is round 1! This cycle can be repeated 3 more times.
Step 5 | Enjoy the feeling
Having completed the breathing exercise, take your time to enjoy the feeling afterwards. This feeling will be more and more like meditation.
This is the entry into the Wim Hof Method, take your time recovering from the breathing exercise. After doing the breathing exercises and when you are feeling comfortable, you can start taking the cold shower.
During step 3 you can add push-ups or yoga poses as you hold your breath until the gasp reflex. Notice that you are stronger without the air than when you would normally breath. The body has been fully oxygenated by the power breaths.
Lat thing: be consistent – these exercises are extremely powerful when done consistently and with intent.
For the full breathing course, including cold showers and thermogenesis, go to www.wimhofmethod.com
This article first appeared in weMove magazine. Issue 1