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  • Writer's pictureCarol Alford

Wim Hof

I'm truly fascinated by the mind and what it can achieve. I'm constantly searching for ideas and ways to develop my knowledge that can help my clients. With an open mind I'm willing to explore all possibilities and over the years I've tried various techniques all in the name of science. I came across this technique, last year for the first time and so I thought I would share it with you in my blog this week. Now I know some of you will laugh this off as nonsense, but before you do can I ask you to do your own research and give it a go, you may be pleasantly surprised by the results. I have a client over in Australia who swears by it and trust me he's down to earth and not into wacky things. First let me explain who invented this technique and a little bit about the background behind it. Wim Hof, is an extreme athlete from the Netherlands, nicknamed "The Iceman" because of his ability to withstand extreme freezing temperatures. He has an impressive list of physical achievements in nature, such as swimming underneath ice and running a half-marathon above the Arctic Circle barefoot and in shorts!!

He developed the Wim Hof Method after the death of his wife Olaya, the mother of his four eldest children (he has six in total). As you can imagine it had a profound effect on him and he found cold water, breathing techniques and a positive mindset helped him heal from the grief, and so he decided to create The Wim Hof Method to share with others.

Essentially, the Wim Hof Method seeks to create an optimal state of body and mind, using three components: breathing exercises, training your mindset and concentration, and gradual exposure to the cold. Using the technique has a number of benefits including;

  • Boosting the immune system

  • Increasing energy

  • Relieving stress

  • Improving sleep

  • Increasing willpower

  • Relieving some symptoms of depression

  • Improving concentration

  • Improving mental wellbeing

I also saw an interesting piece of research last year that was looking at the benefits to limit and potentially prevent Alzheimers Disease and Dementia, pretty impressive eh?

Whilst some of you may have seen photos of Wim either swimming in icy waters or plunging into an ice bath, you'll be pleased to hear you don't have to go to such extremes to reap the benefits, you can achieve good results by simply taking a cold shower. His mantra "The cold is a real remedy, not the enemy,’ improves what he calls the ‘muscular tone of our vascular system.’ Cold is used as a a stressor, ‘the idea being if you can control your body’s response to it, you can control stress in any form’, a great benefit when competing in sport under pressure! Wim Hof says ‘The consequences are enormous because you are awakening the physiology at will. You are learning to consciously control the stress mechanisms in the body. You learn to control stress, goodbye depression, goodbye inflammation.’ And I would add hello to embracing competition.

So how do we prepare?

The first rule of the Wim Hof Method is to "listen to your body and never force." In fact, the reminder to "never force" recurs throughout the practice. Hof recommends doing the breathing exercises on an empty stomach to get the most out of the practice.

You should be comfortable before starting the exercise. Hof recommends sitting or lying down on a couch or bed. He warns to never do the breathing exercises in a situation that could put you in danger if you were to faint—such as in water, in the bath, or while driving. Set your intention before you start, and then take it from there. Last, but most importantly, it is advised you consult with your doctor first if you have any special conditions.

Heres how to achieve Hof's 3 daily pillar's 1 - Breath

  1. While seated or lying down, take 30-40 full conscious breaths. Breathe fully into the belly and chest, then let go without force.

  2. On final exhale, let the air out and hold for as long as you can without discomfort

  3. When you feel the urge to breathe again, take a deep breath in, hold for 10-15 seconds, then release and relax

  4. Repeat the steps two or three times, adjusting your breath as needed

  5. Rest until you are ready to move on with your day

You just influenced key drivers of your health, increased your vitality and focus, busted your stress, reduced inflammation factors, and optimised your immune system.

2 - Mind

  1. Before you get up from your breathing practice, bring up a thought in your mind, like ‘Today I’m going to stay in the cold shower for 15 more seconds,’, or ‘I feel happy, healthy and strong’

  2. Reflect on this thought and notice how your body feels

  3. If you identify any inner resistance to your intention, keep breathing steadily until you feel an alignment between your body and your mind.

With practice, your sense of your inner experience will sharpen, allowing you to more consciously observe and control your body and mind

3 - Cold

  1. At the end of your warm shower, turn the water to cold

  2. Start by first putting in feet and legs, then your arms, then your full torso under the water

  3. Gradually extend your exposure every day until you can handle two minutes in the cold.

You just improved your metabolic efficiency, regulated your hormones, further reduced inflammation and are enjoying the endorphins released in response to the cold.

If you'd like to find out more about this I highly recommend his book, "The Wim Hof Method", or alternatively go to his website for video links and more info Hope you found this blog interesting, if you would like to learn more about mental toughness please visit our website and get in touch. Drop me an email and let me know what you think, I would love to hear from you. Visit our website and check out our other blogs, there's something in there for everyone.


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