wim hof breathing

A comprehensive guide to Wim Hof’s breathing technique

Have you ever heard of Wim Hof, the Dutch guy who seems to have superhuman capacities when it comes to withstanding cold exposure? If not, then you’re about to learn more about this fascinating individual and his method, which has been the subject of scientific scrutiny. The Wim Hof technique is a relatively new addition to the health and wellness scene, gaining popularity among athletes and coaches. Created by a Dutch man named Wim Hof, the technique involves a specific controlled breathing routine that’s supposed to lead to physical and mental health benefits. 

If you’re practicing mindfulness and seeking to deepen your mind-body connection, the Wim Hof Method complements your journey beautifully. Mindfulness is all about being fully present in the moment, and what better way to enhance that presence than by mastering your own breath and physical responses?

In this article, we’ll explore the essence of the Wim Hof Method, exploring the man behind it and the profound impact it may have on your life. 

“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.”

– Thich Nhat Hanh

Who is Wim Hof?

Wim Hof, also known as “The Iceman,” is a Dutch extreme athlete who has gained international recognition for his ability to withstand extreme cold temperatures. He has set multiple world records for feats such as swimming under ice, climbing Mount Everest in shorts, and running a half marathon above the Arctic Circle in bare feet.

He developed the Wim Hof Method, a combination of breathing techniques, cold exposure, and meditation, which he claims can improve physical and mental well-being. The breathing technique involves a system of controlled hyperventilation, followed by periods of holding the breath.

Hof’s achievements have led to scientific studies on his method, which have shown promising results in reducing inflammation, increasing energy, and improving immune function. However, some experts have cautioned against the potential risks of the method, such as hyperventilation-induced fainting and cold exposure injuries.

Wim Hof swimming in icy water

Wim Hof’s three pillar-approach

The Wim Hof Method consists of three key components, each contributing to its overall effectiveness.

Breathing Exercises

The first pillar of the Wim Hof Method involves a series of breathing exercises. These exercises begin with deep breaths and gradually progress to longer breath-holding durations. The primary objectives of this aspect of the method are to increase energy levels, enhance focus, strengthen the immune system, and reduce stress and anxiety. 

Cold Exposure

The second pillar of the method focuses on gradual cold exposure. This component entails exposing the body to cold temperatures in a progressive manner. Cold exposure can be achieved through various means, such as cold showers, ice baths, or engaging in outdoor activities in cold weather conditions. The primary goals here are to improve circulation, boost energy levels, and reduce inflammation.


The third and arguably most crucial pillar of the Wim Hof Method is commitment. Practitioners are encouraged to fully embrace the method and make it an integral part of their daily routine

What is Wim Hof’s breathing method?

Wim Hof Breathing is a powerful breathing technique that has gained popularity in the wellness world. This method, also known as “The Iceman’s Breathing,” aims to help individuals develop mastery over their nervous, immune, and cardiovascular systems. The technique has been reported to provide numerous benefits, including increased energy, reduced stress, and enhanced focus.

The Wim Hof Breathing technique involves a series of controlled breathing exercises that are designed to increase oxygen intake, reduce carbon dioxide levels, and improve circulation. The technique is based on the idea that by controlling your breath, you can control your body’s response to stress and improve your overall health and well-being.

Wim Hof’s breathing technique is a powerful tool that can raise vibrations in the body. If you’re interested in trying the technique for yourself, it’s important to start slowly and work your way up to longer breath retention periods.

Wim Hof meditating in lotus position on a snowy field, performing breathing exercise

Preparation for Wim Hof’s breathing

Before starting the Wim Hof breathing technique, it is important to find a comfortable space where you can lie down in a relaxed position and calm your mind. This will help you focus on your breathing and get the most out of the technique.

Once you have found a comfortable space, it is time to prepare yourself to learn Wim Hof’s breathing technique. Start by becoming aware of your breathing consciously. Begin slowly, inhaling deeper into your belly each time. Gradually increase the depth of your breaths until you are completely filling your lungs. If possible, inhale and exhale through your nose.

It is important to note that all the effort is on the inhale, while the exhale is a passive release. Fully inhale and let go of the exhale. 

Always perform the method in a safe and secluded environment and when using a guided YouTube video or other instructions, remember to listen to your body and never force the process. If at any point you feel uncomfortable or dizzy, stop holding your breath and simply breathe in. The Wim Hof Method involves controlled hyperventilation, which can lead to dizziness, tingling, or lightheadedness. Be aware of these symptoms and stop the practice if they occur. 

A step-by-step guide to Wim Hof breathing for beginners

To perform the Wim Hof breathing technique, follow these steps:

Get comfortable

Find a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down, and wear loose or comfortable clothing. Ensure that your belly can expand freely.

woman in black leggings unrolling a yoga mat

Take 30 deep breaths

Close your eyes and inhale deeply through your nose or mouth. Push your belly outward as you inhale, and exhale fully and relaxedly. Repeat this cycle for 30 breaths.

a man in hoodie sweater meditating over a yoga mat

Hold your breath

After the 30th breath, exhale to 90 percent and hold your breath for as long as you can. 

a man and a woman breathing exercise in meditation

Take 1 final deep breathe

When you feel like you need to take a breath, inhale fully and hold for 15 seconds before releasing.

a man and a woman in lotus position meditating


Repeat the cycle up to three to four times.

a man and a woman meditating

Benefits of Wim Hof breathing

The Wim Hof Breathing method has become increasingly popular due to its potential benefits for both health and wellness. Below are some of the benefits that have been associated with this breathing technique.

Health benefits

According to the Wim Hof Method website, the Wim Hof Breathing method has been linked to numerous health benefits. These include:

  • Improved immune system function
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Increased energy levels
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Reduced symptoms of depression
  • Improved physical performance
  • Reduced symptoms of chronic pain

Wellness benefits

In addition to the health benefits, the Wim Hof Breathing method has also been associated with various wellness benefits. These include:

  • Increased focus and concentration
  • Improved mood and emotional regulation
  • Increased feelings of well-being
  • Increased creativity

Again, while some of these benefits may be anecdotal, there is some scientific evidence to support the claims.

Wim Hof breathing YouTube videos

Here are YouTube videos that provide valuable guidance for individuals interested in mastering the Wim Hof Breathing Technique, offering a range of options suitable for both beginners and those seeking more extended sessions.

1. “Guided Wim Hof Method Breathing” 

In this video, Wim Hof himself provides a detailed explanation of the Wim Hof Breathing Technique. It offers a step-by-step guide, making it suitable for beginners. The video includes an 11-minute guided breathing exercise that viewers can follow along with. With over 74 million views, it’s one of the most popular resources for learning the technique.

2. “Wim Hof Method Guided Breathing for Beginners”

This video is designed for beginners and offers a slower-paced version of the Wim Hof Breathing Exercise. It starts with a 30-second breath hold, gradually building up to a 90-second hold. The video runs for 10 minutes and 24 seconds, making it an accessible resource for those new to the technique.

3. “Breathe Along with Wim Hof”

This 10-minute and 30-second video is an ideal resource for beginners. It features a guided Wim Hof Breathing Exercise that allows viewers to follow along with Wim Hof himself. The video is a valuable tool for individuals looking to learn and practice the technique effectively.

For more videos and all the information about Wim Hof’s method, guided breathing exercises, his adventures with ice baths, and his life journey, you can explore his official YouTube channel.

4. Wim Hof breathing tutorial 

In this video, Hof demonstrates his unique Wim Hof Method, a technique that combines elements of deep breathing, meditation, and body posture. The video, which lasts approximately 10 minutes, is packed with valuable insights and practical exercises. The tutorial begins with Hof explaining the importance of breathing and its role in maintaining overall health and wellness. He then guides viewers through a series of breathing exercises designed to stimulate the body’s natural healing processes and increase energy levels.

For more videos and all the information about Wim Hof’s method, guided breathing exercises, his adventures with ice baths, studies about his methods, and his life journey, you can explore his official YouTube channel.

Study of Wim Hof’s technique

The study titled “The Positive Effects of Combined Breathing Techniques and Cold Exposure on Perceived Stress: a Randomised Trial” was a comprehensive investigation into the effects of Wim Hof’s breathing technique and cold exposure on stress levels.

The methodology

The study followed a randomized trial design. This means that participants were randomly assigned to either a control group or an experimental group. The control group did not use the technique, while the experimental group used Hof’s breathing technique along with cold exposure.

The participants were asked to perform the breathing technique for 10 minutes, three times a week for eight weeks. They also had to expose themselves to cold for 15 minutes, three times a week for the same duration. The control group did not undergo any of these activities.

The participants

The study involved 24 participants, 12 in each group. The participants were healthy adults, with no pre-existing conditions that could influence the results. The researchers took into account factors like age, gender, and physical condition when assigning participants to the groups.

The results

The results of the study were quite promising. Participants who used the breathing technique and cold exposure reported a significant reduction in stress levels compared to those in the control group.

The researchers used various measures to assess the participants’ stress levels, including questionnaires, interviews, and physiological measurements. The results were consistent across all these measures, indicating that the observed effects were not due to any single method.

In addition to stress reduction, the study also found that the technique improved mental clarity, enhanced physical performance, and boosted the immune system. These benefits were observed in all the participants, regardless of their age or gender.

Final thoughts 

Incorporating the Wim Hof Breathing technique into your daily routine, when done safely and correctly, can be a valuable addition to your wellness practices, helping you create a healthier and more balanced life. The technique promises numerous benefits, including increased energy, reduced stress, and enhanced focus. Wim Hof’s technique gives a unique approach to regaining control in today’s fast-paced world, where the demands of daily living can leave us feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and physically fatigued.

While the Wim Hof Breathing Technique may not be suitable for everyone, it is a safe and effective way to improve overall health and well-being. By following the step-by-step guide, individuals can learn how to perform the technique correctly and safely.

It is important to note that the Wim Hof Breathing Technique should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment. Individuals with underlying medical conditions should consult with a healthcare professional before trying the Wim Hof Breathing Technique.

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