We all breathe, but we rarely take advantage of the benefits that certain breathing methods can have on our wellbeing.
When done correctly, deep breathing (such as the Wim Hof technique) can increase endorphins, decrease stress hormones in the bloodstream, decrease anxiety, and induce feelings of wellbeing.¹
The simple act of breathing is regulated by the autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for…well, you guessed it…all automatic bodily functions.
Since breathing is automatic, it often goes unnoticed, unappreciated, and its healing potential is rarely tapped.
However, through various breathing techniques, such as Wim Hof’s, we can deliberately turn this unconscious activity into an effective tool for enhancing our wellbeing.
The benefits of the Wim Hof breathing include reduced stress, increased blood circulation, enhanced focus, and a feeling of bliss or “high” after completion. ³
Here are the basics of the Wim Hof breathing technique:
Step 1: Sit or Lie Down
Find a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down. Relax. Try to release any tension from your body. You can close your eyes or keep them open. It’s up to you.
Step 2: Take 30 deep breaths
Inhale deeply through your nose. Fill your lungs with air. Feel your diaphragm expand. Then exhale through your mouth. It is important to simply release the air on the exhale and let the air flow out naturally. Refrain from forcefully pushing the air out. Take 30–40 more breaths. Make sure that your breathing is relatively quick, but not rushed.
Step 3: Hold your breath on the exhale
Once you complete the last exhale of the set, hold your breath. Yes, you read that right… hold after the exhale. At this point, your body is saturated with oxygen, so there is no need to fill your lungs with air. In fact, it actually causes additional pressure.
Hold your breath until you feel the urge to inhale. You will be surprised at how long you are capable of holding your breath with no air in your lungs.
Step 4: Inhale Deeply
When you feel the urge to breathe, inhale fully and hold for 10–15 seconds. You may feel lightheaded or tingling sensations, but this is normal.
Repeat three more times. With each subsequent set, you will be able to hold your breath for a longer period of time as your body becomes supercharged with oxygen.
Upon completion, you will feel an overwhelming sense of calm.
The entirety of the Wim Hof breathing method takes less than 10 minutes, so it is definitely a worthwhile habit to incorporate into your daily routine.
1. Six Dijkstra, M., Soer, R., Bieleman, A., McCraty, R., Oosterveld, F., Gross, D., & Reneman, M. (2019). Exploring a 1-minute paced deep-breathing measurement of heart rate variability as part of a Workers’ Health Assessment. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 44(2), 83–96.
2. Jerath, R., Crawford, M. W., Barnes, V. A., & Harden, K. (2015). Self-
regulation of breathing as a primary treatment for anxiety. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 40(2), 107–115.
3. “The Benefits of Breathing Exercises: Wim Hof Method.” The Benefits of Breathing Exercises | Wim Hof Method