What is Breathwork and Who is the Iceman Wim Hof?

The practice of breathwork involves using the breathing process to access altered states of consciousness. Surprisingly, Wim Hof, 'The Iceman" is helping make breathwork more mainstream.

Image via @wimhof

You may be hearing a lot about breath work right now, as people discover this age old and yet newly embraced holistic therapy. For something so seemingly simple, the effects and results can be dramatic. Breathwork’s popularity has recently grown from entertainment and tech industry circles in Malibu and New York, trying out the latest therapy for mental, physical and spiritual results. People are trying out different types of breathwork, such as shamanic, transformational and clarity. The practice of holotropic breathwork involves using the breathing process to access altered states of consciousness. Proponents of this technique believe that this altered state allows individuals to access parts of the mind that are not usually accessible; this might include re-emerging memories of past events. The overarching theme in all of the practices, is that the breath is a bridge between the conscious and the unconscious. It can enable you to tap into your deepest wisdom and it can heal on all levels.

Breathwork uses your breath in a conscious way to open up energy pathways and to enable oxygen to flood every cell. This clears blockages and stuck energy from the body, freeing up the life-force and creating more vitality. It can also bring into awareness whatever is going on in the subconscious mind.

Old patterns, habits, negative beliefs, memories, traumas and stresses are often brought forward and into the conscious mind, so that you can understand and process them, and release the suppressed emotions and thoughts surrounding them. These patterns are then meant to integrate back into the whole being, but no longer have a negative effect on your life. This often brings about forgiveness, greater self-love and acceptance.

Whichever modality of breathwork you choose, your experience will always be unique.

What about Wim Hof?

Wim Hof is perhaps the best known breathwork expert right now, owing to his ability to also withstand freezing cold temperatures. He has set Guinness world records for swimming under ice and prolonged full-body contact with ice, and still holds the record for a barefoot half-marathon on ice and snow. Hof has climbed to an altitude of 7,200 metres on Mount Everest, and to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro wearing nothing but shorts and shoes. He has also run a full marathon in the Namib Desert without water. He explains these feats were achieved through breathwork.

The Wim Hof Method involves brief periods of hyperventilation followed by brief periods of holding your breath. During the controlled hyperventilation exercise you can expect physical, mental, and emotional sensations including lightheadedness and tingling in the hands and feet. Many people also say their hands clench up, and can’t be opened. Because it’s possible that you may feel faint during breathwork, it is important that you practice in a safe place. It is normal to feel intense emotions and to end up crying or laughing during your practice. Afterwards, people usually say they feel as if their energy has been shifted, and even that they are euphoric.

A second component to Hof’s Method is starting your cold exposure training with cold showers once a day. When you are starting out with ice cold showers, you want to concentrate on taking long, deep breaths to relax your way through it. Once you are feeling brave and comfortable with cold showers, you can move on to ice baths, but making sure to never stay in longer than 8 minutes. This powerful method was developed by Hof, to give people the means to take control over their body and their overall wellbeing.

You can learn more about breathwork or book a session with one of our Guides, email: kahli@kahli.life

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