The revolutionary techniques performed by Dutch athlete, Wim Hof have proven so powerful and effective that millions of devoted fans swear by his method. Famed for performing extreme feats, Wim is noted for his seemingly effortless ability to withstand freezing cold temperatures for prolonged periods of time.
Having followed Wim’s guided breathing exercises during lockdown, I appreciated the positive effects they can have on the body and mind, but from a scientific standpoint, I was clueless. Cue an afternoon Zoom chat with the Iceman himself, who at 61 years of age is just getting started.
“Deep breathing techniques make your body alkaline, that is a fact,” says Wim. He’s speaking only to me but it feels as if he’s preaching to the masses and somehow has a duty to convey his message to every living being. With passion and enthusiasm, Wim continues to educate me on the benefits of his findings.
“Our bodies can become increasingly acidic throughout the day due to a build-up of stress, but deep breathing techniques cleanse the lymphatic system, causing pH levels to lower,” he says. “If you don’t intoxicate yourself too much during the day, your pH levels will remain alkaline.
“During clinical trials, volunteers performed these techniques in the morning and sure enough, their bodies tested alkaline. Five hours later they were tested again after going about their normal daily routines. Their pH levels were still alkaline.
“When faced with a stressful or painful situation, if you turn your body alkaline by performing deep breathing exercises, you will have far more control over that pain or fear. Deep breathing exercises cleanse the body of chemical residue caused by stress. This residue is like garbage that blocks up your system. You have to cleanse your body of that trash.
“Doctors have now started implementing these methods, because they appreciate the preventative power of this and they see that when the body is clean, the garbage is not fermenting. If we’re able to directly execute control over incoming stress or danger and neurologically activate the adrenal axis, then when we see something that’s not good, we get rid of it. I have proven now with brain scans that the power of your thoughts alone are able to fend off danger and physical stress- just the power of your own mind. How? Deep breathing techniques promote a spike in adrenaline. This means we can fend off danger more successfully. If we consciously spike that adrenaline, not only can we face extreme things like a bungee jump with less fear, but our bodies are actually able to fend off bacteria, because adrenaline also makes the immune system much more alert.
“Emotional stress, bacterial stress, viral stress, stress because of the heat or the cold- it’s all stress on the body. A spike in adrenaline enables your body to cope far better in any of these stressful situations. The breathing techniques I advocate have shown themselves to activate the deepest part of the brain in which exists a reservoir of opioids, cannabinoids, serotonin; all a magical pharmacy of ours which we previously didn’t know how to access.
“Our bodies can become increasingly acidic throughout the day due to a build-up of stress, but deep breathing techniques cleanse the lymphatic system, causing pH levels to lower”
“We have proven this by injecting people with bacteria, which had no effect on them after performing these breathing techniques- yet thousands of people who didn’t practice the same exercises became sick. Ultimately, when the body becomes alkaline, the pain receptors uncouple and when this happens, the body cannot make pain signals.
“This is the way we are built, but we were never schooled in this and we never exercised or believed this- but now it is science.”
Wim attributes the effectiveness of his methods to their ability to tap into the autonomic nervous system.
“The autonomic nervous system can reduce resting heart rate, improve digestion, reduce blood pressure, improve metabolism, and improve your sex life. Practicing my method on a daily basis will help you to reap all of these benefits and it only takes a few minutes.”
Wim stresses the importance of developing a healthy relationship with your own body and says that energy is not only derived from food sources.
“The breathing techniques I advocate have shown themselves to activate the deepest part of the brain in which exists a reservoir of opioids, cannabinoids, serotonin; all a magical pharmacy of ours which we previously didn’t know how to access”
“Body awareness is so important,” he says. “It enables you to have a positive internal and external relationship with your body and that’s what I’m advocating. Food should be real food without additives. I’m a vegetarian and I eat once a day. I’ve been a vegetarian since the age of twelve and I feel great. If you adopt deeper, conscious breathing, you’re able to create more mitochondrial activity which results in the production of far more molecules. Yes, food equals energy and ATP. But if you practice deep, conscious breathing, this will also influence mitochondrial activity, so you’ll produce more molecules and you’ll need less food- it’s logical.”
I was sold on the practice of deep breathing, but what I really wanted to explore was the benefit of subjecting oneself to a freezing cold shower; the prerequisite of the second pillar to Wim’s happy, strong and healthy campaign.
“We’ve got millions of little muscles in our cardiovascular system that are there to dilate the veins, arteries and capillaries,” says Wim. “If we have clothes on all the time, then our largest organ, the skin, is not exposed to cold, heat or pressure. We were not built to wear clothes all of the time. This modern-day way of dressing creates a de-stimulative behavior wherein the electoral, temperature and pain receptors in the skin are not being sufficiently stimulated through cold, heat, or pressure, because we don’t feel these sensations. We know what happens when we don’t exercise our muscles. They become smaller and smaller. The same goes for the cardiovascular system. If it’s not stimulated, it becomes weaker. Subsequently, the heart needs to beat harder to get the blood flow through the system in order to reach the cells with vital nutrients, vitamins and oxygen.
“When cold water envelops your body, you automatically ‘think’ your body temperature goes down- that is the normal reaction- but if you intervene at that moment and say, ‘I don’t want my temperature to go down’, then it won’t. That is fending off physical stress with the power of your own thoughts and that is the new science. It’s truly amazing.
“Cold showers help train the cardiovascular system to restore it to its natural condition within ten days”
“Cold showers help train the cardiovascular system to restore it to its natural condition within ten days. At that point, your heart rate will go down by 20-30 beats per minute, 24 hours a day. Just a 30-second cold shower after a nice hot one is okay. Once these muscles awaken, your energy levels and blood flow will improve drastically. Vital oxygen, vitamins and nutrients will find their way to your cells far more efficiently. Your heart rate goes down and your energy levels go up. It’s a win-win!
“Think about it logically. The brain controls all of the organs in the body. If we can control our own brains, then in turn we can control what they’re telling our organs to do.”
If we can deter bacteria from entering the body, how about COVID? According to Wim, there is no need for a vaccine if we tackle the inflammation that’s causing so much damage.
“I absolutely believe we can ward off COVID without the vaccine,” says Wim. “The damaging factor of COVID is inflammation- that’s what makes this viral infection so dangerous.
“Your heart rate goes down and your energy levels go up. It’s a win-win!”
“We already proved back in 2014 that we can bring inflammation down by 100%. My method is natural should be independently researched of course, but the proof is already there. We haven’t tested this method specifically on COVID, but on inflammation, yes. I repeat; the damaging factor of COVID- a viral infection- is inflammation. I challenge any scientist to prove me wrong. Look this up! We have proven we are able to tap into the autonomic nervous system and into the autonomic process of the immune system to influence it and to make it more alert. As a result, when a virus enters and wants to begin to inflame the body, we are able to bring it down.”
Prevention is always better than cure, but what if you’ve had the misfortune of having already contracted the virus?
“If you’ve already contracted COVID this method can still work,” says Wim. “But if your body is a house full of flames, of course that’s much harder to extinguish. By exercising breathing techniques and mindset exercises, we are able to reduce the build-up of fluid in the lungs if it’s in the primary stages. But only when the inflammatory markers first present themselves, are we reliably able to bring them down. We’ve shown it’s possible to achieve this within just 15 minutes. So crucially, whenever you feel symptoms, take control immediately with the power of your thoughts by performing the deep breathing exercises. This will deeply influence the biochemistry throughout your entire body, activating the adrenal axis that resets the system. Your immune system will become far more alert as a direct result, and viruses and bacteria will stand no chance.
“If you’re feeling poorly, just do the breathing and when you feel right again, then start the cold showers. A cold shower a day keeps the doctor away. Keep it simple, just do it. It feels great- it’s addictive. But wait until you feel right, because when we have low energy levels, we’re more sensitive to the cold. Wait until you’re 100% right first by doing the deep breathing, which cleanses the system and rids the body of chemical residue. Don’t rush it, but trust me, it works just great.”
With 26 world records under this belt, Wim boasts superior fitness levels. But he insists a lack of physical fitness will not prevent others from reaping the benefits of his method.
“This is something that’s accessible to anybody,” he says. “You don’t have to be fit. Yes, I have many world records, but you don’t have to be athletic to benefit from my methods- absolutely not. This method is about accessibility, effectivity and giving power to everybody.
“No matter who you are or where you come from, once you start practicing my method, you will develop a profound connection with your own body. You will become the captain. What do you want to do with your vessel? Go and live your life the way you want- happy strong and healthy- that’s the way we’re built. I discovered this by doing strange things in extreme conditions. I developed an unstoppable curiosity for the scientific world. Scientists intervened and claimed that what I was doing was physiologically impossible. They began to experiment on me for things which up until then were deemed unachievable for the human race. I proved them wrong. I made my own method. And that method is accessible to everyone.
“A cold shower a day keeps the doctor away.”
“Within just a half an hour, you will have that innate capacity to train your mind and your body to be happy, strong and healthy- that’s natural logic. When shit happens or stress comes to you creating chemical residue, you’ll be able to fend it off and cleanse yourself of that. So when you get fired, or COVID happens, you will not lose your happiness, your strength, or your health. Maybe you’ll lose your money or your car, but you’ll stay fucking happy, strong and healthy. That’s muscular strength at its best- very simple and very accessible to anybody and that’s our work- we bring common sense back to the people. I’m talking to you the reader- you are in control- show some muscle of spirituality inside out- it’s all there.”
Wim first wandered into icy waters over 44 years ago and says life has never been the same since.
“When I felt the attraction to go into cold water, I was quite a philosophical hippy kind of guy- I wanted to know what the purpose of life was,” he says. “At that moment, when I first felt that urge, I was walking past a point where the water was frozen over and I thought to myself, ‘just go in’, and when I did, this deep feeling and connection came directly to me. It was exactly what I had been debating and philosophizing and thinking about and now I had it in the palm of my hand. Ever since that day, over 44 years ago, I’ve done the same thing routinely and I love it!
“I love the heat as well. My first wife was from Spain. I speak fluent Spanish and my first four kids are from that marriage. They’re working with me right now, which is ironic because I used to take them to school in the wintertime in my shorts and my two girls would say, ‘act normal pops’, and now they’re doing it themselves! The cold is beautiful if you take it on in the correct way.
“I’m talking to you the reader- you are in control- show some muscle of spirituality inside out- it’s all there.”
“The biggest killer in our society is cardiovascular related disease, but with this practice we can tackle it. Imagine how many millions of people would be saved annually- probably thousands daily, just by doing this. Not only can my method tackle cardiovascular related diseases, but many other chronic diseases, depression, or causes of inflammation that enter into the brain creating mental disorders, all because we live in a dissimulative environment. I mean really- a cold shower a day keeps the doctor away.”
Mindset is a fundamental part of Wim’s method. I was dying to know what he thinks about when he meditates!
“I could make a joke and say that when I meditate I’m just thinking of sex all day long,” says Wim. “Actually, the only time I’m not thinking about sex is when I paint and create! On a serious note, meditation is the ability to bring blood flow to the deeper parts of the brain. When the blood flow follows the neural activity of our constant thinking, then the blood flow stays within the shallow part of the brain, or the neocortex- the modern brain. As a result, the rest of the brain is deprived of adequate blood flow. It’s by learning to bring that blood flow to the deeper part of the brain that reduces stress. In the deeper part of the brain there are no thoughts- it’s as simple as that.
“This world is crazy- what they are doing is more than crazy. We need to take back control for ourselves. This is our work.”
“In order to once again prove my theories, I attended brain scans and demonstrated how we are able to control the blood flow inside of the brain and bring it deeper into the brain stem. We are living in the shallow part of the human brain. It’s go-go-go all day long and we don’t feel the purpose of life anymore.
“We are now able to tap into the deepest part of our brain, make it alkaline and gain neurological control. We’ve learned to control the part of the brain that gives us purpose, emotion and soul. The part that controls ‘the five Fs’: fight, flight, food, fuck or freeze. We have found this biohacking technique through studies and we can now control things like bacteria and emotions that were previously not able to be consciously controlled by humans.
“So, don’t meditate- go deeper than meditation and deeper than mindfulness. You own your own mind. You are the owner of your own mind. We never got schooled in this and we are serving in a system that got fucked up, through COVID arresting us, lockdown, being told we need vaccinations. Fuck off all I say! Get back into yourself and take ownership of who you are and what you are, the way nature meant it to be.”
The benefits of Wim’s method are both psychological and physiological. He aims to help you improve your mind, body, cardiovascular system and prevent stress.
“I’ve already helped millions, but I am going for billions,” he says. “Through common sense, I want to bring happiness, strength and health to people and enable them to take ownership of their own minds and bodies. It truly is nothing more than natural logic and that should be there every day. This world is crazy- what they are doing is more than crazy. We need to take back control for ourselves. This is our work.”
Whilst his extreme feats alone have been enough to get him noticed, there’s no harm having a bit of fun when Hollywood comes knocking.
“There will be a Hollywood film made of my life,” says Wim. “They begin to film for three months in July. Joseph Fiennes will play me and I’m going to start training him very soon. I met him a couple of times already. I’m distance training him. I tell him to learn to stand on one arm, do the splits, stay for 20 minutes in icy water, do breathing techniques and learn to climb. I have been climbing without gear and he should too- he shouldn’t have a stunt double because it intensifies the spirituality of it. No danger- go with caution- I never felt danger because of that consciousness. If you learn to spike the adrenaline and then control it, you become so alert you can see and feel more and go into these challenges because they’re a part of your life. You have the obstacles, the tools and the adrenaline and then you get over it. That is the message. Everybody is able to tap into that natural ability within ten minutes and balance adrenaline with control. New scientific publications are coming out. I am doing research on depression and bipolar right now. This is not a joke anymore. I’m gonna fucking change the world because it needs to stop this nonsense and bring common sense to the people to be happy, strong and healthy.
“Joseph Fiennes will play me and I’m going to start training him very soon. I met him a couple of times already. I’m distance training him. I tell him to learn to stand on one arm, do the splits, stay for 20 minutes in icy water, do breathing techniques and learn to climb.”
“We will burst the ball of ignorance to bring awareness and awaken the potential for people to bring happiness, strength and health to themselves and their families through mother nature.”
Photography: Innerfire BV