The Wim Hof Method Explained

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

The Wim Hof method is a meditation method that allows a person to control his autonomic nervous and immune system through a variety of meditative and breathing techniques.

Dutch daredevil Wim Hof developed this technique. Nicknamed the “Ice Man,” Hof has the ability to withstand extreme cold. He is known for racing through frozen terrain barefoot and almost naked. Hof holds 20 world records, including longest ice bath, reaching 6.7 kilometers altitude at the Mount Everest wearing nothing but shorts and shoes, as well as completing a full marathon at the arctic circle wearing nothing but shorts.

Hof credits all these feats through partial control of his hypothalamus. This is the part of the brain that controls the body temperature. According to researchers at the Radboud University Medical Center, there is evidence that shows Hof can activate his own autonomic nervous system. However, Hof himself emphasized that there is no clear evidence that the Wim Hof Method techniques can treat a wide range of illnesses.

Trying Out the Wim Hof Breathing Technique

Hof himself credits his specialized breathing techniques for allowing him to survive in sub-zero temperatures. To perform the Wim Hof breathing technique, here are some tips:

Get Comfortable

Find the most comfortable spot in your home. Make sure the spot is quiet so you don’t get distracted as you perform your breathing exercises. You can either sit down or lie on your back to conduct your breathing exercises.

Step 1: Power Breaths

After getting comfortable, start inhaling and exhaling about 30 times. Make sure your breathing is neither too shallow nor deep. Imagine blowing a balloon and feeling your whole body being saturated with fresh oxygen. While completing your power breaths, you may feel slightly tingly or lightheaded, which is perfectly normal.

Step 2: Hold Your Breath

After completing at least 30 power breaths, empty your lungs of air and hold your breath as long as you can without force. As you are holding your breath, close your eyes and meditate. You can use a stopwatch to time yourself as you hold your breath.

Step 3: Breathe In

After holding your breath, breathe in for 10 seconds. Take a long, deep breath; hold your breath for 10 to 15 seconds before exhaling. Go back to the first step and repeat.


After completing four rounds of power breathing, follow it up with regular meditation that lasts for at least 5 minutes. Just close your eyes, focus on your breathing, and block distracting thoughts and sounds from your mind.

If you are meditating for the first time, you will probably have a hard time blocking distracting thoughts in your mind. This is normal. Once you start meditating regularly, you will become better at clearing your mind.

Apart from breathing exercises and meditation, the Wim Hof method also includes ice baths and stretching exercises. All these exercises are meant to enhance immunity, control body temperatures, and make the body resistant to environmental stressors. According to practitioners, the Wim Hof technique helped them achieve mental focus, increase pain threshold, and improved mood. The technique builds iron will, allowing one’s self to overcome inner doubt and hurdle any challenges through sheer willpower.

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