Deep breathing & cold showers

Wim Hof is a 61-year-old Dutch extreme athlete. He is known as “The Iceman” for enjoying freezing temperatures. At 48, he climbed Mount Everest wearing nothing but shorts and shoes. He holds Guinness World Records for longest ice bath and fastest half-marathon barefoot on ice and snow.


Hof credits his achievements to the Wim Hof Method (WHM), a combination of deep breathing, meditation, and cold exposure. It’s similar to tummo techniques practiced by Tibetan monks for thousands of years in the Himalayas.


Scientific evidence

In a randomized controlled trial, Hof trained ordinary people to do WHM for 10 days. Then they were injected with bacterial toxin. Trained people had a stronger immune response to fight bacteria. They also had 50% less inflammation and 55% fewer symptoms.


In other studies, researchers investigated Hof himself. When he practiced WHM, his body released pain-relief chemicals and raised core body temperature.


Hof and his instructors have trained thousands of regular people around the world. There are testimonials about preventing illness, relieving stress and pain, and reducing symptoms of autoimmune diseases, such as asthma, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and multiple sclerosis.


I welcome any doubter, any skeptic among the medical establishment to prove me wrong. I’m not afraid of criticism. No. Quite to the contrary, I think criticism polishes the diamond of truth.

-Wim Hof


How to start today

In his book The Wim Hof Method, Hof describes how to deep breathe:


Mouthbreathing is terrible.

-James Nestor

In addition, Hof recommends cold showers to improve vascular tone. Here is his 4-week program:


Cold showers are the gateway to flow and energy and peace. I’m not exaggerating. It’s the entry point from which you will learn the power of the mind over the body...all it takes is 10 days of these showers to regain your optimal vascular tone and achieve this control.

-Wim Hof


Personal notes

As part of my morning workout, I follow Hof’s 11-minute guided video on YouTube (search for “Guided Wim Hof Method Breathing”) followed by a cold shower. I was amazed I could hold my breath for 90 seconds and adapt quickly to icy water. I was even more amazed by the peace and clarity.


When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive—to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.

-Marcus Aurelius


Cromie WJ. (2002, April 18). Meditation changes temperatures: Mind controls body in extreme experiments. Harvard Gazette.


Kox M et al. (2014). Voluntary activation of the sympathetic nervous system and attenuation of the innate immune response in humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 111(20): 7379–7384. 


Muzik O et a. (2018). “Brain over body”–A study on the willful regulation of autonomic function during cold exposure. Neuroimage. 172: 632–641.


Vosselman MJ et al. (2018). Frequent extreme cold exposure and brown fat and cold-induced thermogenesis: a study in a monozygotic twin. PLoS One. 9(7): e101653.

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