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BBJ Fitness Corner | Wim Hof method

AS a follow up to breathing exercises, the Wim Hof method is another form to stay healthy.

Wim Hof is famous for being able to trigger changes in his body during experiments by just focusing his mind.

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Jerry performs a pilates movement called hundreds.  Contributed photo

Tremendous effect of the Wim Hof Method is the ability to consciously control the immune system to fight off diseases. Our immune system plays a significant role in almost all devastating diseases plaguing the modern world, and finding a way to improve it can help us discover new paths for medicine.

The Wim Hof Method consists of three “pillars”: cold therapy, breathing and meditation. It has similarities to Tibetan Tummo meditation and pranayama, both of which employ breathing techniques.

There are many variations of the breathing method. The basic version consists of three phases.

First is controlled hyperventilation. The first phase involves 30 cycles of breathing. Each cycle goes as follows: take a powerful breath in, fully filling the lungs. Breathe out by passively releasing the breath, but not actively exhaling. Repeat this cycle at a steady pace thirty times. Hof says that this form of hyperventilation may lead to tingling sensations or light-headedness.

The second pillar is exhalation. After completion of the 30 cycles of controlled hyperventilation, take another deep breath in, and let it out completely. Hold the breath for as long as possible.

Lastly is breath retention: When strong urges to breathe occur, take a full deep breath in. Hold the breath for around 15 - 20 seconds and let it go. The body may experience a normal head-rush sensation.

These three phases may be repeated for three consecutive rounds.

If you learn this method or technique correctly, it will empower you do to take your health into different approach with wellness.

A way to practice this method is to get comfortable and close your eyes. Sit in a meditation posture, whatever is most comfortable for you. Make sure you can expand your lungs freely without feeling any constriction. It is recommended to do this practice right after waking up since your stomach is still empty.

Like most exercises, a warm up is needed. Inhale deeply. Really draw the breath in until you feel a slight pressure from inside your chest on your solar plexus. Hold this for a moment and then exhale completely. Push the air out as much as you can. Hold this for a moment. Repeat this warm up round 15 times.

Another step is 30 power breaths. Imagine you’re blowing up a balloon. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth in short but powerful bursts. The belly is pulled inward when you are breathing out and is pulled outward when you are breathing in. Keep a steady pace. Close your eyes and do this around 30 times or until you feel your body is saturated with oxygen. Symptoms could be light-headedness, tingling sensations in the body, and electrical surges of energy.

While doing the power breaths, scan your body. During the 30 power breaths, explore into your body and become aware of it. Be conscious of your awareness through your entire body. Use your awareness as to what parts lack energy and what parts are overflowing. Try to send energy/warmth to any jams. Then release them deeper and deeper. Tremors, traumas and emotional releases can come up. Feel the whole body fill up with warmth and love. Feel the negativity burn away.

Next step is the hold. After the 30 rapid successions of breath cycles, draw the breath in once more and fill the lungs to maximum capacity without using too much force. Then push all of the air out and hold for as long as you can. Draw the chin in a bit so as to prevent air from coming in again. Really relax and open all energy channels in your body. Notice how all the oxygen is spreading around in your body. Hold the breath until you experience the gasp reflex on the top of your chest.

Recovery breath is followed after. Inhale to full capacity. Feel your chest expanding. Release any tension in the solar plexus. When you are at full capacity, hold the breath once more. Drop the chin to the chest and hold this for around 15 seconds. Notice that you can direct the energy with your awareness. Use this time to scan the body and see where there is no color, tension or blockages. Feel the edges of this tension, go into it, move the energy towards this black hole. Feel the constrictions burning away, the dark places fill with light. Relax the body deeper as you move further inward, let everything go. Your body knows better than you do. After 15 seconds you have completed the first round.

Start this practice with one or two rounds. Try to do it daily and add two more rounds in a few days. After you feel more comfortable with holding your breath you can start to add exercises and stretches. Work up to a minimum of 15 minutes or 6 rounds with exercises. You can do this practice for how long it pleases you.

If you feel dizziness or pain, get out of the posture and lie on your back. Breathe easily again and stop this practice session.

Reserve at least 5 minutes after this practice to relax and scan the body.

As a summery it starts with 30 times balloon blowing, breathe in fully, breath out fully and hold until gasp reflex, inhale fully and hold for 10-15 seconds, repeat until finished and take five minutes to relax and scan your body

Cold showers are also included. If you are new to cold exposure, start with cold showers. Begin with your feet and then follow with your legs, your stomach, shoulders, neck and back and finally your head. An initial shock, shivering and hyperventilation is normal. Try to remain calm and breathe easily. Close your eyes and really try to embrace the cold.

If you feel any strong physical uncomfortableness, like heavy shivering, numbness or pain, get your body warm again as soon as possible. Once you are out of the shower, take a moment to do another slow body scan before you dry yourself. Cold exposure works like weight lifting, you get stronger over time. There are little muscles around your veins that contract when they get into contact with the cold. After some time (only 1-2 weeks according to Wim) these become stronger, making your veins healthier and reducing the force that your heart has to use to pump blood around your body.

You can increase exposure over time. At one point the cold will feel just as comfortable as wearing your favorite pajamas and you can skip the warm shower completely. Notice how you feel amazing after a cold shower and sluggish after a warm one.

Another form of shower is the ice bath. After a few weeks of cold showers you can up the ante to an ice bath. Get 2-3 bags of ice at your local convenience store and put them in a half-full bath tub. Wait until around two thirds is melted or that the water has reached your designated temperature (10 / 12 °C (50 / 59 °F)).

You can throw in a couple of handfuls of salt to speed up this process.

As with the cold showers, try to relax as much as you can. Start out with around 10 minutes and increase exposure over time. If you feel uncomfortable, get out. After this exercise, make sure you do another body scan.

It is normal to feel extra cold after a small period of time after the ice bath. This is called the after-drop. Take a hot glass of raw coca and keep your blood flowing by talking a walk. You’ll feel amazing after!

Please be mindful that you are doing this exercises on your own risk. Using any of these exercises while driving or being immersed under water can be extremely dangerous. When in doubt, talk with your medical caregiver.

Wim Hof Quote: “If you can learn how to use your mind, anything is possible.”