The Iceman’s breathing technique will give a powerful boost to your energy levels and strengthen your immune system. It will improve concentration, circulation, mood, and take your performance to a higher level. He has climbed Mount Everest and Mount Kilimanjaro in his underwear; he’s run full marathons through high deserts without food or water. He holds twenty Guinness World Records, and his name is Wim Hof. He is known as “the Iceman” because he loves extreme cold: he’s voluntarily been buried up to his neck in ice for almost two hours, which brings his skin temperature down to almost freezing, yet his core temperature remains normal—in fact, he can raise it by one degree.
In addition to his ability to withstand extreme temperatures, under laboratory conditions, he has been injected with endotoxins, flu-type bacteria, with no ill effects whatsoever. In other words, he can influence his immune system and autonomic nervous system, and he teaches others to do the same. How does he do it? With breathwork, of course! Wim meditates and practices yoga, and his method also involves training in gradual cold exposure. By bringing this all together, he has learned to overcome extreme conditions and to supercharge his immune system. His basic method involves alternating between deep breathing and breath holding, a simple yet very powerful practice. With focus and commitment, you too can learn to control your immune system and autonomic nervous system to improve your circulation, boost your energy levels, improve concentration and focus, sleep better, put yourself in a more positive mood, and take your performance to a higher level. Here is one of Wim’s basic breathing techniques:
- Take a few long, slow, deep, gentle breaths to focus, relax, and prepare.
- Take in thirty or forty deep, full breaths and let the exhales out without any force. (Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, or breathe in and out through your mouth.)
- Take in one more long, deep breath, let the exhale go, and hold your breath out (don’t breathe in). When you feel a strong urge to breathe or your diaphragm begins to flutter, take in a full inhale and hold it in for ten or fifteen seconds, then let go, exhale, and relax.
That’s it! Do three rounds of this exercise, two or three times every day. Don’t force it. And you will see that over a few weeks your breathing ease and capacity will increase dramatically, you will be able to comfortably hold your breath for longer periods, and you will begin to notice many health and performance benefits —guaranteed.
As an advanced practice, or as an athletic experiment, you can do push-ups or squats or some other repetitive exercise while holding your breath on the third round. Most people are surprised to learn that they can do more reps than usual during that final breath-holding phase. Another important piece of Wim’s method involves the use of gradual cold exposure, and he has taken his love of the cold to amazing extremes. He advises beginners to start by simply taking a cold shower every morning. Or, if you need to start more slowly, take a warm shower and end it with a cold rinse of about a minute.
Some Facts About Hyperventilation
” Hyperventilation, also called “overbreathing,” can be learned or occur reflexively, and ironically, it can
leave you feeling breathless. “
When hyperventilation occurs reflexively or happens unintentionally and becomes out of control, it can trigger anxiety or panic, The reverse can also happen—anxiety or panic triggers the hyperventilation. When you hyperventilate, you blow off too much carbon dioxide (CO2). In body fluids, such as the blood, carbon dioxide forms carbonic acid, which regulates acid-base balance, literally from breath to breath. Therefore, dysfunctional breathing can very quickly disturb your acid-base balance, resulting in respiratory alkalosis, an undesirable rise in blood plasma pH. This can result in symptoms such as tingling or numbness of the lips, muscle spasms in the hands and feet, belching, and chest pain. Hyperventilation can also radically reduce blood flow to the brain, resulting in symptoms such as headaches, confusion, weakness, dizziness, agitation, palpitations, fainting, and even seizures. Paradoxically, when hyperventilation is learned and intentional in your breathing practice, it can be an effective way to overcome deep fears and transform emotions, especially feelings of limitations, blocks, and old traumas. It is a method of spiritual purification and a powerful healing and creative practice when used properly. Using hyperventilation consciously in breathing training develops your ability to relax through
uncomfortable feelings and to overcome physiological, emotional, and psychological barriers.