Wim Hof, known as the ‘Ice Man’ for his incredible world records held in competing with extreme conditions (amongst other records) has devised a simple 3 part programme in controlling your immune system.
Yeah, you read that correctly.
Amongst an extensive list of benefits are increased fitness, decreased stress and depression, clear mind and an increased immunity against illness.
We’re not going to talk too much because I’m sure you want to check it out!
First, the science behind the method:
Here’s an extract from Wim’s website http://www.icemanwimhof.com/ in which he takes you through a high level step-by-step process in achieving his results:
How to Consciously Control Your Immune System
Warning important message, read carefully: Always do the breathing exercise in a safe environment (e.g. sitting on a couch/floor) and unforced. Never practice it before or during diving, driving, swimming, taking a bath or any other environment/place where it might be dangerous to faint. The breathing exercise has a profound effect and should be practiced in the way it is explained. The cold is a strong force. We strongly advise you to gradually build up exposing yourself to the cold. Always train without force and listen to your body carefully. If not practiced responsible, you risk hypothermia or an after drop. If you have health issues, please always consult a doctor first before practicing.
Step by step explanation breathing exercise.
1) Get comfortable
Sit in a meditation posture, whatever is most comfortable for you. Make sure you can expand your lungs freely without feeling any constriction. It is recommended to do this practice right after waking up since your stomach is still empty or before a meal.
2) 30 Power Breaths
Imagine you’re blowing up a balloon. Inhale through the nose or mouth and exhale through the mouth in short but powerful bursts. Keep a steady pace and use your midriff fully. Close your eyes and do this around 30 times. Symptoms could be light-headedness, tingling sensations in the body.
3) The Hold, retention after exhalation
After the 30 rapid successions of breath cycles, draw the breath in once more and fill the lungs to maximum capacity without using any force. Then let the air out and hold for as long as you can without force. Hold the breath until you experience the gasp reflex.
4) Recovery Breath
Inhale to full capacity. Feel your chest expanding. When you are at full capacity, hold the breath for around 10 seconds and this will be round one. The breathing exercise can be repeated 3 rounds after each other.
5) After having completed the breathing exercise take your time to enjoy the feeling afterward. This feeling will be more and more like a meditation.
When you start doing these exercises we recommend to take your time recovering from the breathing exercise. After doing the breathing exercise and you feel good, you can start with taking the cold shower.
– +-30 times balloon blowing
– Breathe in fully
– Breath out without force and hold until gasp reflex
– Inhale fully and hold for 10 seconds.
– Repeat until finished and recover from the breathing exercise
Add push-ups or yoga poses during the time you are holding your breath until you wait for the gasp reflex. Notice that you are stronger without air than you would normally be if you could breathe!
After the body scan of the previous exercise, you are ready to let your body embrace the cold. It is very important to try to relax as much as you can, really be with the cold, only then can your body process the signals and start thermogenesis. As Wim says, “the cold is your warm friend!”
If you are new to cold exposure, just end your warm shower with 15 – 30 seconds with cold water only. Begin with your feet and then follow with your legs, your stomach, shoulders, neck, and back. An initial shock, shivering and hyperventilation is normal. Try to remain calm and breathe easily. Close your eyes and really try to embrace the cold. Don’t pour the cold water over the head if you are not known with cold exposure. If you feel any strong physical uncomfortableness, like heavy shivering, numbness or pain, get your body warm again as soon as possible. Cold exposure works like weight lifting, you get stronger over time. There are little muscles around your veins that contract when they get into contact with the cold. After some time (only 1-2 weeks according to Wim) these become stronger, making your veins healthier and reducing the force that your heart has to use to pump blood around your body. You can increase exposure over time. At one point the cold will feel just as comfortable as wearing your favorite pajamas and you can skip the warm shower completely. Notice how you feel amazing after a cold shower and sluggish after a warm one.