The Quick Breathing Technique That Can Make You Feel Superhuman

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man breathing and meditating

We all know that breathing is essential to maintaining life. It is an automated unconscious process our bodies use to pull in oxygen, which influences the amount of energy that goes into the cells in our bodies.

Breathing also kicks off several chemical and physiological processes and is essential to our automatic nervous systems. But all breathing techniques are not created equal.

One method of breathing designed to keep your body in top condition is the Wim Hof method.

What is Wim Hof breathing?

Wim Hof is a Dutch extreme athlete who is also known as the “Iceman.” He has broken numerous records related to cold exposure and believes that we can control our bodies, breathing, and minds by practicing the Wim Hof method that he created.

The Wim Hof method consists of three pillars: breathing exercises, cold therapy, and commitment. It incorporates deep, controlled breathing with extreme cold exposure such as ice baths and cold showers.

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Its intended health benefits are increased oxygen levels, lowered blood pressure, and expulsion of carbon dioxide, among other things. But the results of studies on the effectiveness of the Wim Hof breathing method have been mixed.

A 2021 study of 15 amateur athletes showed no improvement in sprinting performance after one session. Those athletes did, however, prefer sprinting to walking after completing their Wim Hof breathing session.

Conversely, a 2020 study found that a single session improved cycling performance by speeding up oxygen delivery and reducing strain on the athletes.

Hof, himself, participated in case study called "Brain over Body" in 2014. He was able to withstand extreme cold temperatures by subjecting his body to artificial stress in advance.

This suggested that others can achieve the same "mind over matter" accomplishments by learning to control their own nervous systems. That same study showed an increase in adrenaline after performing the Wim Hof breathing method.

Other benefits that have not been scientifically proven are increased energy, better sleep and focus, reduced stress response, increased immune response, and a stronger immune system.

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How to Do the Wim Hof Breathing Method

The Wim Hof breathing method is so simple that anyone can do it.

It is recommended that you practice it after walking and on an empty stomach. You should also be lying down or sitting during the process.

1. Make yourself comfortable.

The first thing you should do is get comfortable in a meditation position. This can be sitting or standing. You should be unrestricted, with the ability to expand your lungs, and undisturbed.

2. Inhale and exhale.

Now, breathe in and out deeply 30-40 times as you clear your mind. Focus on your breath, inhaling through the nose or mouth and exhaling out of your mouth. Your breaths should be deep and natural but not forced.

3. Hold your breath.

After your last exhale, breathe in as deeply as possible and hold your breath for as long as possible. When you feel the urge to exhale, do it and don’t inhale for as long as possible.

4. Recover.

When you feel the urge to breathe in again, fill your lungs with one big breath and hold it for 15 seconds before letting it go. Round one will be complete, and you can complete the cycle 3-4 times, ending each in breath holds.

At the end of the exercise, you should feel as relaxed and calm as you would when you meditate.



Is Wim Hof breathing dangerous?

Generally, Wim Hof breathing is not dangerous. There are some potential side effects, though.

It can affect motor control or lead to temporary unconsciousness. Another potential side effect is light-headedness, which is harmless and should subside quickly. You might also experience tingling in your hands and feet.

That being said, it's essential to never practice the Wim Hof breathing technique while in a swimming pool, operating a vehicle or heavy machinery, or in any other unsafe location.

How often should you do Wim Hof breathing?

Wim Hof breathing can be done as often as you like. Some practice it several times a day with no negative or harmful impact.

It is important to remember to go at your own pace. The Wim Hof method is not about force, but about understanding. Listen to your body and follow your own intuition.

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NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington, and author of seven books. She covers lifestyle and entertainment and news, as well as navigating the workplace and social issues.