What is the Wim Hof Method?
A technique to help control your body’s temperature? A powerful form of meditation? A practical tool to help cure disease?
I believe it’s a mix of all of the above, but if I were to sum up what the Wim Hof Method really is — I’d say it’s a way to reclaim your inner power — mentally, physically and spiritually.
Over the summer of 2015, I decided to give the Wim Hof Method a go. Although I haven’t yet hiked up snowy mountains half naked or practised headstands on ice, I did sample one of the most important and revolutionary methods of meditation I’ve ever come across.
The Wim Hof Method is re-writing science as I type these words. This is a meditation technique that has been scientifically proven to influence the autonomic nervous system and the immune system. Up until recently, no one thought this was possible.
Wim Hof is essentially able to control his hypothalamus — the part of the brain that helps to control body temperature. Not only this — Hof is not a freak of nature — anyone who practises his technique can train themselves to do the same.
I will go into more detail about the science behind the Wim Hof Method further on in this article. Before I continue, here’s a short video that gives you a brief overview of what the Wim Hof Method is all about.
Over time, we, as humans have developed a different attitude towards nature around us and we actually forgot one thing, ‘inner power.’ This is the relationship by our physiological mechanisms to adapt and survive within our natural environment, which is direct and effective.
Because we wear clothes and control the temperatures at home and work, we have changed the stimulation on our body, thus the old mechanisms related to survive and function. As these deeper physiological layers are not stimulated anymore we have become alienated from them, thus our bodies have weakened and we are no longer in touch with this inner power. The inner power is a force accumulated by fully awakened physiological processes. It also influences the very core of our DNA. — Wim Hof
Wim Hof’s achievements
- Staying immersed in ice for 1 hour 13 minutes
- Reaching the top of Kilimanjaro barefoot wearing just shorts, in only two days
- Completing a full marathon above the polar circle in Finland where the temperature was as low as -20 degrees, dressed in only shorts
- Hanging on one finger at an altitude of 2000 metres
- Completing a full marathon in Namib desert without drinking any water
The science behind the Wim Hof Method
“I’m absolutely not the first one to do this, but I’m the first one to bring it to science.” — Wim Hof
Researchers from the Radboud University Medical Center provided the first scientific evidence to show that through the Wim Hof Method you can activate the autonomic nervous system and inhibit the response of your immune system.
However, according to the Wim Hof website, researchers have emphasised that it is still unclear whether the Wim Hof Method techniques could be effective in treating patients.
Watch this short video that explains more about the science behind the Wim Hof Method.
Read more about the Wim Hof Method experiments conducted by Radboud University Medical Center.
You can also read about the science behind being able to consciously control your immune system on High Existence.
For a really in depth explanation, check out this 28 page Wim Hof guide that is featured on the Wim Hof Method website. It goes into detail about certain illnesses that might benefit from the Wim Hof Method, ATP, human physiology and much more.
How to practise the Wim Hof Method
Breathe m*therf*cker — Wim Hof
You will find some of the Wim Hof Method exercises available, but you are strongly advised to do the course as some of the exercises should be built up to slowly. If you do decide to practise the method, please do not do any of the breathing exercises whilst driving, standing up or in water. Please also be mindful that practising the Wim Hof Method outside of the course is completely at your own risk.
The Wim Hof Method and brown fat activation
If we activate brown fat, we can eat more and not gain weight. It could be a help in the fight against obesity, diabetes and heart problems. — Prof Sir Stephen Bloom, Imperial College London
I’ve already written an article on this, so I won’t go into a lot of detail here. However, practising the Wim Hof Method could play an important part in tackling obesity.
According to Wim Hof, brown adipose is a type of fat tissue that produces heat and can help to significantly prevent and fight obesity. Hof also explains that brown fat plays an important role in maintaining body temperature in animals and humans, and interestingly, obese people have very little of it.
Read more about the Wim Hof brown fat activation technique
My own experiences
Prior to practising the Wim Hof Method, I gave up all forms of other meditation, so I could focus solely on this technique and give it a fair trial. Because the Wim Hof Method also involved some yoga asanas, it meant that I didn’t have to give up yoga for 10 weeks which was an added bonus.
When you start the Wim Hof course, you’re also given a workbook to fill out so you can see how you’re progressing. Everyone has their own reasons for meditating, and the Wim Hof Method is no different. To begin with, you’re asked to set some personal goals which is important for focus and motivation. Throughout the course, you then document your experiences every day.
I won’t give you a day by day description of what happened to me during the course, but I have selected some excerpts from my workbook to give you an idea of how I felt as I practised.
For a more detailed review of my experiences read Wim Hof Method: review by a yoga teacher
It would be wrong to call this a macho way of meditating, but it resonated with me because there was no fluff. The Wim Hof Method basically combines physical fitness with spirituality and science, which for me, is a good balance.
As I practised, I found the whole process grounding but exhilarating at the same time. The meditations would make my whole body tingle and bring about such a deep state of peace I would look forward to waking up
every morning most mornings to practise.
In addition to feeling my happiness and confidence levels increase, I also became much stronger physically. I went from being able to do ten to over 30 full press ups in one go and I did some yoga asanas I’d never been able to do before. I also discovered that I could hold my breath for 3:30 with no air in my lungs.
It’s important, however, not to forget that the Wim Hof Method is essentially a technique to bring you into a deep state of meditation. There may be side effects of a fitter body and being able to withstand freezing temperatures, but like other forms of meditation — this is also about going deep into the mind, beyond the ego and personality.
Finally, I like that the Wim Hof Method isn’t about accumulating anything outside of yourself or worshiping anything external in order to regain inner power and strength. In a world where we’re not often encouraged to look within, I find this incredibly refreshing and I can truly say I’m grateful for the experience.
Finally, I’m a Wim Hof Method affiliate. This means that if you buy the Wim Hof course through my site I will make a commission which will go towards further yoga teacher trainings.
Wim Hof podcasts
Author of the 4 Hour Work Week, Tim Ferris, interviews Wim Hof on the Tim Ferris Show.
Wim Hof Vice documentary
This is probably the best documentary I’ve watched on Wim Hof — whether you’re interested in meditation or not, I recommend it for inspiration.