Do you even breathe, bro? Learning the Wim Hof Method
*Record scratch - freeze frame*
So you’re probably wondering why I’m sitting in this tub of ice, up to my neck in 2-3 degrees of pure pain. Not gonna lie, I wasn’t sure either but I had been promised a swag of health benefits, an increase in energy which I’d highlighted as the main reason I was there subjecting myself to the torture, and to be challenged like I’ve never been challenged before.
Why the heck!?
This story starts some years ago when I came across a VICE documentary on someone they called ‘The Iceman’. It told the story of Wim Hof, a Dutch guy that had taken himself on an incredible journey of self discovery and personal healing after his wife passed away at a young age. Through his incredible travels around the world he learned the tibetan breathing technique called Tummo, designed to keep the body warm during extreme cold exposure. (Picture a monk walking through the Himalayas, able to avoid hypothermia with nothing but a robe draped around their body.)
I was intrigued. Wim features in videos all across YouTube performing circus like feats, being the subject of numerous scientific studies, and breaking world records for cold exposure and endurance events. I went on to read ‘Becoming The Iceman’, a sort of biography that lays out much of Wim’s life story and details the adventures that makes him the charismatic super human he is today. Wim’s message has always been that anyone can learn to do what he does and survive extreme cold exposure in nothing but their shorts. The journalist in the VICE documentary did it, so surely I could too, right?
Be careful what you wish for...
Enter Glen Lomman, Holistic Personal Trainer and Life Coach. Glen attended one of Wim’s seminars in Melbourne a couple of years ago where he learned the breathing technique, now known as the Wim Hof Method, for keeping the body warm during extreme cold exposure. Glen reached out to CrossFit Mode who already had the ice tubs as part of their recovery program, and a partnership was struck. Glen could run his breath and ice bath workshops on a Sunday once a month, and those crazy enough (like me) could attend to torture themselves for fun.
So, you think you can breathe
On Sunday 4 February, around 15 brave and daring souls attended the workshop ready to learn the inner fire breathing technique and to use the method to sit in the ice bath for as long as possible.
Glen shared with us his story and why he’s passionate about getting the wellness message out into the community and then took us into the actual breathing technique. He absolutely stressed that we needed to be in comfortable position, preferably laying down, so that if we passed out we would not fall and hurt ourselves. This sounded intense but I was loving it! The breathing method was unlike anything I’d read about or experienced before. It was really interactive and required a lot of focus. You can read the instructions here but if you give it a go, ensure you’re laying down and preferably have someone around that can observe you.
States of altered consciousness without the drugs
Many people report different reaction when they practise the Wim Hof Method (WHM), such as tingly limbs, lightheadedness, sharpened vision, more peace and being present. I went through all of these and also felt like I slipped into a trance state. It was by far the most consciousness bending activity I’ve ever taken part in. And the best part, it’s a tool I can use at any time to give me more energy and bring more clarity to my day.
Cool story bro but did the breathing stop your arse getting kicked by the ice bath?
Yeah nah. The breathing technique does not make you immune to the cold. It’s like a frozen burn all over your body, as your skin and body acclimatize, and then a different kind of pain sets in as the cold penetrates further into your body. What the breathing technique does do, is give you something to focus on whilst every ounce of your being is telling you to get out of the bath. I was able to use the WHM to take all the oxygen I had flooded my body with and turn it into heat to protect me from the cold. I still got my arse handed to me but all up I lasted almost 4 minutes. Not bad for a first attempt.
OK, that’s pretty cool. How do I get involved and when is the next workshop?
The Iceman himself is coming to the eastern states in March. Although he won’t be visiting Adelaide, Glen has managed to snag two certified Wim Hof coaches to come across and run a workshop so that we don’t miss out. It’s taking place 18 March and it’s best to grab tickets early so you don’t miss out.
Learning this breathing method and incorporating it into your daily routine WILL optimise your life and performance. It’s a tool that weighs nothing and can be taken with you everywhere, always (think more gains, better athletic performance, sharper focus, etc.).
If you think you’ve got what it takes to become an iceman, get on board and I’ll see you there for an arse kicking.