Taking a ice-cold shower for 10 minutes? Holding your breath for 3 minutes without air in the lungs? Taking a swim in the cold sea in the morning?
If somebody told me some weeks ago I would do these things and even enjoy them, I would not have believed it. But this is exactly what happened after following this method for more than 6 weeks.
The Wim Hof Method is a training program, that involves a breathing technique, concentration exercises, gradual cold exposure and physical exercise without breathing and was invented by the Dutch “Iceman” Wim Hof, who holds several world records for withstanding extreme cold.
The goal is to gradually get used to the cold yourself through physical and mental training.
The Method can be incorporated perfectly into your Morning Routine, when your willpower is the highest. Therefore, Benjamin Hardy recommends parts of it in his 8 Things Every Person Should Do Before 8 A.M.
The Breathing Technique
It starts of with a few rounds of focused breathing. First, you find a comfortable position, sitting or lying down, close your eyes and relax. Then, breath fully into your lungs and let go again. After doing that 30 times, fully breath in one last time and empty your lungs with a large exhale, before stopping your breathing.
Now there is no air in the lungs, but your body is saturated with oxygen, which can be felt through tingling in your hands and face. There is no need for breathing, just remain calm and enjoy the process. When the urge to breath gets too strong, breath fully in and hold your breath for another 10 seconds. Also, make sure to have a watch or timer close by to measure how long you were able to refrain from breathing.
You will be surprised by your inner power and the progress you achieve during the first days and weeks of continuous practice.
This breathing technique prepares your cardiovascular system for the most intimidating but also most important and most rewarding part of the Wim Hoff Method, the cold exposure through a cold shower.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to directly jump into the freezing water. When starting off you can take things slow and increase cold exposure step by step. That means you start with a warm shower and then gradually let the water become colder, so your body has time to adjust and get used to the cold. After some practice, try to switch the water from warm directly to as cold as possible.
When the cold kicks in, you might feel the urge to gasp and hyperventilate. Here are some things that will help you to remain calm and focused:
- Already before entering the shower/switching to cold, prepare yourself mentally, by anticipating and visualizing the cold entering your body. Wim Hof describes the cold as a “noble force”, which gives you strength and vitality, so look forward to it.
- Focus on deep breaths, just as during the breathing exercise.
- Visualize an inner fire that is inside your body and gives you warmth, it grows and becomes stronger with every deep breath you take. Really focus on this sensation of heat, it will help you through the cold.
After some weeks of steady practice, you will start to enjoy the cold and be able to directly start with the cold water or even enter the shower while holding your breath and controlling any urge to gasp.
You can then set yourself new challenges, such as taking ice baths, running barefoot in the snow or swimming in a cold lake. *
But why would one bother to start this uncomfortable journey of getting used to the cold, especially in the morning when coming out of a nice and warm bed?
Firstly, there are a lot of health benefits. Cold exposure has shown positive effects on the cardiovascular and immune system. It will grant you enhanced concentration and focus, improve your energy levels and boost your mood through the release of endorphins.
However, the most important aspect of taking cold showers regularly is that it builds the willpower and discipline to plough through resistance.
In life in general, there will always be some kind of resistance trying to stop you from stepping outside of your comfort zone. But remember, resistance is the best indicator that something is worth doing and that it will make you grow.
So, if you can overcome the resistance to expose yourself to the cold on a daily basis, you will have built a solid foundation for overcoming even more challenging obstacles.
Call to Action
Start your journey by taking some minutes daily to practice your breathing and gradually let the water during your shower become colder.
You will be amazed by how you feel after your first cold shower, it is a feeling of incredible vitality, of being on top of the world and it will make the whole effort worth it.
Before you go…
Let me know about your experience with cold showers in the comment box below and share with someone who needs to start the journey with the cold.
*Disclaimer: Practice of the breathing technique and cold exposure is at your own risk. Cold exposure exercises can be dangerous if not done with proper care. Make sure to always stay safe and do not force anything.