Wim Hof

Discussion in 'Everything Else' started by wespom9, Oct 26, 2016.

  1. pet'

    pet' More than 5000 posts


    An option is to start the shower lukewarm (but more on the "cold side") water. And keep reducing the temperature during the shower. It makes the whole process pretty smooth.

    Kind regards,

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  2. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides StrongFirst Director of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Instructor

    Yes, but you'll never get me to give up my hot showers. They are the poor man's massage, spa, sauna, and hot tub.

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  3. Phil12

    Phil12 Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    The guy at the local gas station is convinced I'm a party animal because of all the ice I buy. I just smile and nod. Hopefully the Superbowl people won't clean the whole place out.
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  4. wespom9

    wespom9 More than 500 posts Certified Instructor

    If some of you more enlightened folks would oblige, what would the main differing characterizations be between these methods? Please tell me if I am not following correctly:

    Wim Hof - actively seeks purposeful hyperventilation, followed by the controlled pause. Going by memory of the podcasts I've listened to, Wim says this decreases the acidity of the body, the major factor in terms of chronic disease

    Buteyko - seeks to increase the control pause by practicing maximal pauses, but rather than hyperventilation, actively AVOIDS this and instead promotes "reduced volume breathing", or decreasing tidal volume.

    Systema - I am quite unsure exactly what these practices entail

    So to me, Buteyko and WHM both say hyperventilation is to be avoided, yet WHM purposefully does this before the breath hold? I have spent 2 hours trying to read on all this stuff and my head is spinning
  5. pet'

    pet' More than 5000 posts


    I practiced Systema a little. It is mainly a perfect coordination between breathing (both inhale and exhale) in function of the move you are doing (and then, in function of the move you and the other one do).

    Your breath has to be slow and smooth. You have to try to reduce the "pause" between inhale and exhale. You have to get rid of tension. It uses ab breathing, but focus is more on muscle tension. Here, you do not learn to stop breathing, that is the contrary.

    When you get that easy and smooth breath, you can move with ease, as a fluid.

    You learn how to breath (sharp and powerful and fast mouth exhale and nose inhale) to manage pain (for instance, a punch, or when someone is walking). In everyday life, this aspect is not as useless as it seems.

    Kind regards,

  6. MattM

    MattM SFG1 Certified Instructor

    100% agree with this. I will have to see amazing benefits to cold showering to even consider not hot showering.
  7. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides StrongFirst Director of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Instructor

    @wespom9, I cannot answer your question, but I can suggest you do a little reading on the Bohr and Haldane effects. You'll find Wikis and other things online to read. A short, non-biologist-friendly (since I'm not a scientist) explanation follows here - it pertains both to the science as I understand it, and to my own experiences.

    Our bodies deliver oxygen through our blood but there is a strong bond between our red blood cells and the oxygen they transport, and our cells can't simply grab whatever they need as it goes by. Carbon dioxide, CO2, must be present in order for the blood cells to release their oxygen - this is the Bohr effect and it was discovered in the late 1800's.

    Hyperventilation is caused by insufficient CO2 in the bloodstream - hyperventilation is people breathing in plenty of air but feeling like they can't catch their breath. The classic treatment, breathing into a paper bag, causes an increase in CO2 levels in their bloodstream, allowing them to use the oxygen they have and bringing the episode of hyperventilation to an end in most cases.

    Our breathing system is only partially under our control. We can reprogram the nervous system aspect of our breathing system by practicing the techniques taught by professor Buteyko and others. Through trial and error, Buteyko determined what worked and what didn't. By practicing _easy_ breath holds, called control pauses, and combining those carefully with both longer breath holds _and_ specific techniques, a person can learn to breath less at rest and, for the overwhelming majority of people, this results in good health, and a great improvement of health for those with a long list of chronic conditions. Professor Buteyko theorized that many people hyperventilate at a low level but all the time, and his techniques help to reverse that condition.

    There is a chicken-and-egg relationship between learning to relax and learning to breath better - each helps the other, and Buteyko breathing is very much a soft practice at heart for the general public. There are, indeed, hard aspects to advanced Buteyko practice - you'll find people in online videos walking while holding their noses and mouths closed, and you'll find me _running_ with my nose and mouth closed almost every morning. But these are advanced practices and part of an overall soft approach, IMHO.

    I apologize for any science I may have misstated - there is plenty to read online about this for the more scientifically inclined.

    Do note that the straw breathing in S&S is an example of this - you learn to make do with taking in less air through practice, and the result is good.

    Harald Motz likes this.
  8. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides StrongFirst Director of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Instructor

    Matt, I just turn the water temperature down at the end of my hot showers - the contrast is part of what's important.

  9. wespom9

    wespom9 More than 500 posts Certified Instructor

    Thanks @Steve Freides . I know my basic physiology from university but definitely will dig deeper into it.

    I pulled out a copy of Chaitow's "Breathing Pattern Disorders" book to get more info. I orginally bought it to supplement by knowledge on DNS principles as there are a few chapters written by that school of thought, but Buteyko breathing does have a short chapter. I feel I understand it a little better for sure. Definitely see a difference between it and Wim Hof, but would still love to compare a Systema practice session to both of those others.

    One thing I want to comment on as I ponder all this stuff - it is absolutely amazing how these practices come to be. I feel very blessed to live in a time period not only where thousands (or tens) of years of knowledge can be passed down, and we have the technology to share this with each other from such remote locations.
  10. wespom9

    wespom9 More than 500 posts Certified Instructor

    Do you happen to know the reasoning behind the reduced pause as you mention? Is there physiological benefits to this?
    I work part time within a program for return to work, and we deal with pain symptoms/behaviours etc. daily. How does the "sharp and powerful breathing" relate to the nervous system and pain sensitivity? Is it by attempting to access the parasympathetic nervous system and get out of the sympathetic state?
  11. pet'

    pet' More than 5000 posts


    To add to @Steve Freides's excellent post, related to the Bohr effect: a temperature increase (here, a hot shower) will also increase O2 blood cells sensitivity.

    But, what can I "teach" you ? ;) It is exactly that !

    This type of breathing permits to slow down HR and and relax the muscles. Parasympathetic NS blocks and master some effects of the sympathetic NS, such as pain. In terms of chemestry, Para. NS reduces acetylcholine flow, which is a neurotransmitter. You access to that specificity, only by doing "conscious breathing", using ab breathing, to strongly engage the diaphragm.

    By breathing permanently (meaning reducing the pause between inhale and exhale), you can always maintain the 02 and CO2 balance, as mentiond by @Steve Freides and myself. This means that your muscle can always work at their maximum potential (because there neither O2 or CO2 saturation) while reducing neurotransmitter flow.

    In advance, I apologize for all the biologists here in the Forum who may be offended by my simple explanations.

    Kind regards,

  12. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides StrongFirst Director of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Instructor

    @wespom9, I sometimes practice normal breathing but with a pause at the other end - I exhale and pause a few seconds before inhaling. If you have to sigh or otherwise take in a big breath, you've paused too long, but this practice: exhale relaxedly, stay there for a second or two, then inhale relaxedly and normally, is a great start to better breathing, IMHO.
  13. Kyrinov

    Kyrinov Triple-Digit Post Count

    Steve put it in much more user-friendly terms. There are a host of other factors like a chemical mediator called 2-3 DPG that affects the dissociation between oxygen and hemoglobin and I believe that breath training effects production of it though I can cite no studies to this effect since I doubt they exist. Not enough interest, not enough test subjects. So heuristics it is for us freaks. Anyway, what matters is that it works.

    With respect to cold showers, my feeling is that it is essential to start with pure cold and THEN go to hot. My experience is that the practice helps train the resiliency of the nervous system. Having hot water first makes the cold psychologically and physiologically easier to handle because one is relaxing before introducing the stress. I like to do things "cold", so that I am training to perform in response to sudden changes in events and can go from 0-100 faster since this is the way my job works. I am sleeping and then awake to a terrifyingly loud noise and then I'm racing down the street, making serious decisions with very complex variables while having to deploy both fine and gross motor skills. As a result I like to do "sub-optimal" things like training at 3 AM with no warm up, training when hungry, and cold first. I don't make "gains" like other people because of my lifestyle but I don't know as many people who can maintain as high a level of function with as little rest and nutrition as I can. I rarely get to be 100% so I learn to be "pretty good" at 70%.

    Cold is a shock to the system. It triggers an involuntary hyperventilatory response, this is called quite appropriately the "cold shock" phenomenon. If you are interested in it I recommend watching my countrymate Dr. Norman Giesebrecht, aka "Dr. Popsicle's" videos on the subject of hypothermia and cold response. He is a world expert on hypothermia and does videos how to survive things like falling through the ice. I yearn for the day to see Dr. Popsicle and the Ice Man doing research and/or interviews together. I believe that one of the main, though not only, benefits of the cold training is to give the psyche a training stimulus for dealing with sudden acute stressors. I find that with repeated exposure my ability to be less "reactive" to sudden acute stressors is improved. By shocking the body and then trying to return to homeostasis in the context of the persistence of the offending stimulus, the psyche's ability to retain optimal function in the presence of a threat response is enhanced. I am less "jumpy" and less prone to sympathetic (fight or flight) tone, and when it does come on I can quickly shut it down or moderate it. This has benefits for day to day living in terms of reducing the "death by a thousand cuts" of modern life as well as high-stress situations of first response work. It also helps you understand the breath cycle. Try exhaling completely as you enter the cold. Now try inhaling as you enter the cold. See how your body responds and how your perception of the stimulus changes depending on your breath cycle. Most people instinctively inhale when they are surprised. Training to exhale gives greater psychological purchase on stressful situations.

    That said, there is also a certain amount of common sense. These are stressors. Stressing the body and psyche only make sense if they are done in a way that we can fully recover from. This is ESSENTIAL to Systema work. We don't just beat ourselves up and "tough it out," we are always trying to cause stress but then take the time to properly recover from it so that we are able to fully compensate and return to normal. The notion of self-tyranny to kind of twist or numb this system is antithetical to our training methods. We use stress to stretch and soften the nervous system, not to make it rigid and brittle. Its like kneading dough.

    My feeling, and that of many Systema practitioners, is that the comfort and security of modern society has left our autonomic nervous system hyper-sensitized to threats the same way that our airways are hyper-reactive to allergens (asthma, anaphylaxis.) This is particularly problematic for people who are then doing jobs where we are exposed to repeated acute stressors, but it is also a problem in the long term for chronic disease and inflammation since sympathetic activation produces an inflammatory cascade and we are slowly learning that inflammation is involved in cancer, respiratory problems, heart disease, diabetes, basically every major disease process has inflammation as a major cause.

    I would say that @pet' has provided an incomplete telling of Systema breathing practice. I speak as an Instructor-in-Training who hopes to upgrade to full Instructor in coming months. It is multifaceted. There is a principal of breath continuity and links between breath and movement are shown to be optimal BUT also a recognition of the fact that breath WILL be interrupted at times from stress (like the cold shock) and we therefore train to be effective while holding the breath, keeping the breath OUT of sync with movement, basically developing the familiarity with every breath modulation we can possibly expect. The idea is not to provide a fixed "breathing method" but to give the psyche a chance to understand and "play with" the relationship between breath, movement, perception, tension and emotion. We often intentionally adopt "box breathing" patterns involving variable timing relationships between inhale/exhale cycles and holds at either ends of these cycles. I think it is more or less identical to Buteyko. Steve is bang on with relationship between breath and relaxation. The consequences of this kind of training is that I will suddenly realized I've stopped breathing when I am particularly relaxed. I feel no compulsion to and it is rather pleasant. I suppose the reason is that my cells are being well-oxygenated and yet my chemoreceptors are very tolerant of higher CO2 levels.

    @wespom9 in response to your point about sharing this stuff. Absolutely. I like to rebuke friends who complain that they wish they lived in the "samurai times" or some stupid garbage like that as if they could have been better martial artists if they'd lived in feudal Japan or been in the Japanese Imperial Army with Morihei Ueshiba. There has NEVER been a time like this. There is NO EXCUSE for the kinds of physical frailty we take for granted in this society. The information is out there. The nutrition is available. Our lifestyles are amenable to enormous free time relatively speaking. In China during the past century, one was exceedingly luck to FIND a decent martial arts master. Then came the challenge of convincing him to teach you. This required enormous expenditures of time and resources because these skills were so prized and so were not just given away willy-nilly. Now times have changed and I have had the opportunity to train with some of the best in the world, and to study the movement, writings and lectures of even more of the best. When you learned from an old master back in the day, your "learning" would be getting to watch him perform his "form" 3 times once a week. The rest was up to you. And people still did learn. What is our excuse?
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  14. Kyrinov

    Kyrinov Triple-Digit Post Count

    As a final word I have found, as have others who train this way, that I have developed a degree of conscious control of autonomic processes. During the course of my training as a paramedic I was faced with situations that "freaked me out," I would begin to demonstrate all the classic signs of going into the "red", a loss of fine motor skills, tunnel vision, cold sweats, shakes. What set me apart to some extent from other students was that as soon as I noticed this or had it pointed out by my preceptor, I could then consciously activate my parasympathetic system and down-regulate the sympathetic system....even without breathing, just by consciously relaxing....and then in an instant have my fine motor skills return and my decisionmaking and perception back to normal. It is the reason I started doing this work, because I realized the skills I had developed would make me well suited to these environments and that these environments, in turn would be an ongoing training stimulus.
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  15. Kyrinov

    Kyrinov Triple-Digit Post Count

    With respect to this question, the "burst breathing" (rapid, shallow compensatory breathing) the idea is that we are trying to match breathing to state of the autonomic nervous system. Moderns have a disconnect between the two. By tuning breathing to the state of the nervous system we experience a certain "purchase" on that system, such that we can then bring the nervous system back down to level. I can tell you that it helps immensely. In any situation where I feel overwhelmed burst-breathing helps bring back to normal. Its the same thing they teach expecting mothers to manage contraction pain.
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  16. wespom9

    wespom9 More than 500 posts Certified Instructor

    Very interesting @Kyrinov . It will take me some time to process and ponder these thoughts. It seems to me that all these practices want to decrease hyperventilation, allow the blood to better use the O2 within the system. I understand the need for CO2 to allow these processes optimally. What is endlessly fascinating is that there seems to me to be 3 "same but different" ways to try to achieve this state of decreased sympathetic "tone".
  17. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides StrongFirst Director of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Instructor

    Multiple approaches to the same or similar end do exist in many spheres, and it seems breathing training is one of those. Strength is another.

  18. Harald Motz

    Harald Motz Quadruple-Digit Post Count Certified Instructor

    My interest in practicing and having more attention to breathing got really started, when I began using Pavel's hints in Kettlebell Simple and Sinister: Secrets of breath mastery - When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace -

    Breathing on the one hand is autonomous, on the other hand can be "manipulated", when putting attention to it. A link between body and mind. Cyclical like live itself.

    @Kyrinov: thanks for your detailed insights
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  19. pet'

    pet' More than 5000 posts


    I would add the breathing, beyond the relaxation and Parasympathetic NS mehanisms, also permits to "boost" strength, when we inhale / exhale accordly to the move we do. If I think I read somewhere that the strength bonus due to good breathing technique can be about 20%.

    Kind regards,

  20. ali

    ali Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    @Kyrinov , thanks for sharing your real world application of all this stuff and how it positively impacts your life.

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