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The Benefits of Breathing Exercise

Updated: May 21, 2021

Wim Hof (born 20 April 1959), also known as The Iceman, is a Dutch extreme athlete noted for his ability to withstand freezing temperatures. He has set Guinness World Records for swimming under ice and prolonged full-body contact with ice, and previously held the record for a barefoot half marathon on ice and snow.


Throughout the years, Wim Hof has developed special breathing exertions that keep his body in optimal condition and in complete control in the most extreme conditions. The breathing technique is first and foremost premised on inhaling deeply and exhaling without any use of force!

Practicing the specific breathing exercises of the Wim Hof Method will release your inner fire. The exercises are focused on deep and rhythmic inhalations and exhalations, described by Wim as ‘controlled hyperventilation or power breathing’ and are followed by a retention time, where you hold your breath for a x amount of time. By practicing the breathing exercises, you are releasing more energy, influencing your nervous system and changing various physiological responses. You are inducing voluntarily a short stress response which ultimately will lead to more resilience towards everyday stress, mentally and physiology and feeling more in control.


These breathing exercises are only one of three pillars that form the Wim Hof Method. The other two pillars are cold therapy and training your mindset. When combined, the three pillars will help you to become stronger and gaining better health. Known benefits of the Wim Hof Method include:

  • Stress reduction

  • Faster recovery from physical exertion

  • Better sleep

  • Improved sports performance

  • Enhanced creativity

  • More focus and mental clarity

The Wim Hof Method is also linked to reducing symptoms of diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, asthma, sarcoidosis, vasculitis, and several autoimmune diseases.



Visit Wim Hof's website for more information about breathing techniques and their health benefits.


Or, try his YouTube Guided Breathing for Beginners. This is a slower paced Wim Hof Method breathing exercise that starts with a 30 seconds hold building up to 90 seconds breath hold. Very suitable for beginners or anyone who prefers a more gentle guidance.


The Basic Breathing Method

Wim Hof Method breathing is simple and easy — everyone can do it!

Step 1: Get Comfortable Assume a meditation posture: sitting, lying down — whichever is most comfortable for you. Make sure you can expand your lungs freely without feeling any constriction.

Step 2: 30-40 Deep Breaths Close your eyes and try to clear your mind. Be conscious of your breath, and try to fully connect with it. Inhale deeply through the nose or mouth, and exhale unforced through the mouth. Fully inhale through the belly, then chest and then let go unforced. Repeat this 30 to 40 times in short, powerful bursts. You may experience light-headedness, and tingling sensations in your fingers and feet. These side effects are completely harmless.

Step 3: The Hold After the last exhalation, inhale one final time, as deeply as you can. Then let the air out and stop breathing. Hold until you feel the urge to breathe again.

Step 4: Recovery Breath When you feel the urge to breathe again, draw one big breath to fill your lungs. Feel your belly and chest expanding. When you are at full capacity, hold the breath for around 15 seconds, then let go. That completes round number one. This cycle can be repeated 3-4 times without interval. After having completed the breathing exercise, take your time to bask in the bliss. This calm state is highly conducive to meditation — don't hesitate to combine the two.

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