Oxygen advantages of the Wim Hof Method
When you think of the Wim Hof Method, you might immediately think of an ice bath. After all, Wim is known as The Iceman, and that is not without reason. By immersing himself in ice water for years, Wim was able to break more than 20 Guinness World Records. However, cold therapy is only one of the three pillars of the Wim Hof Method. Breathing is another essential part of the method. The specially designed breathing exercises provide various oxygen-related advantages, which we will focus on below. But first, let us explain how the method influences your oxygen levels.
How the Wim Hof Method influences your oxygen levels
While breathing, we inhale oxygen (O2) and exhale carbon dioxide (CO2). Contrary to what you might think, the Wim Hof breathing exercises do not provide more oxygen into your body, as our blood is often already fully saturated with oxygen (about 99%). But what does happen? We release a lot of carbon dioxide. The brain stem is sensitive to carbon dioxide, and having too much of it triggers your brain stem to release the breathing signal. By removing carbon dioxide through these exercises, this trigger will weaken, making it easier to hold your breath. And this is exactly what the Wim Hof breathing exercises focus on.
While performing the Wim Hof breathing exercises, find a comfortable and safe place to sit or lie down and take 30-40 deep breaths. After the last breath, let all the air out and begin to hold your breath. This is the retention time. No new oxygen comes back into the blood. As a result, oxygen saturation in the blood lowers as the body uses it up. The body is now experiencing a short-term form of hypoxia, which can be seen as stress at the cellular level. The decreased level of oxygen saturation signals the body to react and strengthen, which means we teach the body to deal more efficiently with oxygen.
The advantages of the breathing exercises
As said, with the Wim Hof breathing technique, we learn how to better deal with stress and oxygen deficiency in the long term. However, there are more advantages related to the exercises:
- Although we used to believe it was impossible, we now know we can control the autonomic nervous system through breathing exercises. The autonomic nervous system consists of the sympathetic nervous system, which activates our fight-or-flight response, and the parasympathetic nervous system, which provides relaxation and recovery. As the name suggests, your body automatically switches between the two. However, when someone experiences persistent stress, switching back to the parasympathetic nervous system does not happen as often as it should. With the Wim Hof breathing exercises, we put our body under stress for a short period as we cut the oxygen supply during the retention time. This teaches the autonomic nervous system to switch better between the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system.
- Also, you reach a deep state of relaxation during the retention. Deep meditation results in a similar state of relaxation as oxygen consumption lowers during this time, which brings advantages such as increased focus, reduced stress, and a happier feeling.
Experience oxygen advantages of the Wim Hof Method yourself
If you are ready to experience the oxygen advantages the Wim Hof Method has to offer yourself, get going with our online video course. Start with our free Mini Class to get a taste, or learn the method through a series of fun and easy instructional videos with our Fundamentals or Classic video course .
The three pillars
As mentioned, the Wim Hof Method is made up of several pillars. Cold therapy and breathing exercises are two of them. The third pillar is commitment. Without this last pillar, the first two are hard to master. Learn more about them by clicking the button below.