Wim Hof

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

  1. Iron Tamer

    Iron Tamer Strongman, Speaker and Seeker of Truth

    I didn't read this whole thread because it's so long, and I know next to nothing about butyeko, but I am a WHM certified instructor and have practiced chi Kung since 1995.

    WHM has 3 pillars, breath, cold, mindset.

    There is a 10 week online course available on Wim's site. It's where i started over 3 years ago. My recommendation is to start there or with an instructor. Trying to listen to a podcast and do it is like trying to learn to swing from a podcast. You might figure it out, but why waste the time and effort when there's faster, more sure ways.
  2. Harald Motz

    Harald Motz Quadruple-Digit Post Count Certified Instructor

    Disclaimer: I am not an expert on this topic, but like to learn upon and having some guidelines to practice with. As Tamer stated, learning is much better with a teacher. Like lifting.

    about half a year ago I read Patrick McKeown's book "the oxygen advantage", which I would highly recommend to get information on the effects of breathing (patterns), the ill effects of (over) breathing, the connection between CO2 and O2 and how CO2 tolerance has big effects on breath. He explains the Buteyko method. @Steve Freides is a teacher of it.

    McKeown recommends a pulse oxymeter, which measures with little delay the oxygen content of arterial blood and heart rate. I got a good one as recommended, and found it quite reliable, as the measurement resonates very well with breath retention time (breath hunger) and the associated sensations.

    Usually O2 satiation at rest is at around 97-99%. With breath retention this can be lowered, more quickly with a bit of walking. A measure of progress when I compare McKeown with "the way of the iceman" by Wim Hof and Koen de Jong is both breath retention time.

    Today I used the oxymeter out of curiosity:
    Deep breathing brings O2 and hr up, retention brings O2 and hr down (CO2 up), breathing after retention brings O2 up and this gets better released from red blood cells because of high CO2 (Bohr effect) content. I have the impression to feel this, as there is a slight tingling sensation.

    I think better breathing e.g. breathing less air volume to positively affect body and mind have both methods in common.

    I personally really like the WHM breathing method as I read upon by the book. The practice feels good and right to me. I started sitting meditation about seven years ago, also on my own which is essentially just sitting without intention on a cushion for a reasonable amount of time. So I have a bit of a glimpse on breath and heartbeating while doing it.

    The last four weeks, I did breathing exercises for 3-4 cycles every morning while sitting after waking up, after some tea. Deep breathing, followed by some retention, followed by just sitting and breathing shallowly. What I can say is, that after such a cycle, breathing for me gets very subtle and my breath likes to have a good pause after exhalation. Currently I have a flex time job at work. When I am sitting on my cushion I am not stressed in any way, that I have to go to work. My mind is very tranquil. In short sitting without much emotion and thoughts is definitely easier for me.

    Just my opinion.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2017
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  3. Pavel Macek

    Pavel Macek More than 2500 posts Master Instructor

  4. Wesker11

    Wesker11 More than 300 posts

    Iron Tamer's endorsement is enough for me. I picked up the 10 week course. I'll be starting officially next week.

    Bottom line, I'm hoping to see better performance in S&S. I found these 2 paragraphs lon another site talking about WHM.

    “By thoroughly inhaling and exhaling while doing the breathing exercises, you will consume a lot of oxygen. In addition to this, the concentration of CO2 lessens almost immediately. While doing so, a shift takes place in the CO2 and O2 ratio in the blood. By systematically and deeply breathing in and out, the pH-value in the blood increases (making the blood more alkali) whereas the acidity lessens. Normally, on average the pH-value is 7.4. By exerting the breathing techniques, this becomes significantly higher. During the E-coli experiment, values have been measured up to 7.75. As such, bodily cells can produce (via aerobic dissimilation) ATP much longer and far more efficiently, while at the same time prevent the production of lactic acids. Having said that, the values in the blood will normalize after some time.”

    So essentially we are talking about producing a bodily environment that facilitates more cellular production of ATP via a greater supply of oxygen to the mitochondria. Interesting and powerful stuff. My curiosity is now; a) the limits of this particular protocol and what kind of improvement trajectory I will experience through physiological adaptations if the acute stimulus remains the same. And, b) how this can be applied to more general athletic performance.
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  5. wespom9

    wespom9 More than 500 posts Certified Instructor

    I recently picked up the Oxygen Advantage book from the library and hope to delve into it this weekend. Also have Scott Carney's new book on Wim Hof on hold as well, hopefully I get that soon too. I still need more time to examine the different physiological explanations behind the method.
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  6. conor78

    conor78 More than 500 posts Certified Instructor

    You will enjoy the oxygen advantage, it's very interesting. Essentially buteyko breathing method adapted for sports.
    wespom9 likes this.
  7. kiwipete

    kiwipete Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Hey mate - I just finished the Scott Carney book - I didn't think much of it.... there is a Wim Hoff book by Justin Rosales, which although is not professionally written, is full of his experiences in quite some detail.
  8. kiwipete

    kiwipete Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    @Wesker11 - can you keep us informed of how your practice goes? :)

    Really curious to hear/see what benefits may come....
  9. Wesker11

    Wesker11 More than 300 posts

    Sure! I'll let you know how it goes.
  10. wespom9

    wespom9 More than 500 posts Certified Instructor

    Update: I finished reading the Oxygen Advantage a little over a week ago. I have incorporated monitoring my BOLT score, as well as the "nose unblocking exercise". I will refer to it as "OA" exercises, althought I understand that many of these practices are based off of Buteyko breathing.

    Upon checking my initial BOLT score - I was extremely poor. 3-4 inital tests (with at least 2-3 hours between) all gave me a score below 13, with the lowest of the tests being 8 seconds. After one week of practicing the "breathe light to breathe right" practice and doing the nose unblocking exercise 1-2 times a day, my BOLT score improved to ~25 seconds, and I achieved over 30 seconds once.

    The science behind the method makes sense to me, and I read the book multiple times to really let it sink in. I believe I have a grip on it now. As far as I can tell, there are definitely similarities to the Wim Hof methond (hereby WHM), with the major differentiation being that WHM there is a period of "hyper oxygenation" prior to the breath hold, where as OA does not do this. Both espouse the benefit of holding breath, which increases CO2 improving ability of muscles/tissues to extract oxygen from the cells.

    Now, I practiced the WHM for about 3 weeks prior to doing the OA exercises. There was approximately a week in between stopping WHM practice and starting OA. During the 3 weeks of WHM, I noticed an immediate decrease in my "sniffling" and general nasal congestion. I have minor allergies that become bad periodically, though less than once a year on average. I do, however, suffer from constant congestion of either nasal cavity. WHM made this better, but did not eradicate my symptoms. Honestly, I found the cold showers cleared up my congestion moreso than the breathing. In addition, I lost about an inch around the waist during these practices. Unsure if this is from the breathing, or the cold showers.

    Upon starting OA, I kept doing cold showers post- morning meditation. The "Breathe light.." exercise I practiced in conjunction with my 5-10 min morning meditation. The nose unblocking exercise I usually did sometime at night after work. I found about a similar decrease in my nasal congestion issues throughout the day as when I practiced the WHM. Of note, is that in OA the author claims that once one is able to have a BOLT score of 40 seconds, as well as being able to walk 80 paces post exhalation without taking another breath, congestion disappears. As mentioned, my BOLT score is about 25 seconds, and I can do about 40 paces now holding my breath during the nose unblocking exercise. At first, I could barely do 15-20. So definite improvement within a week. I haven't done OA as long as WHM, but am seeing similar benefits.

    Perhaps the one factor of note is that doing the WHM prior to learning about and measuring my BOLT score did not seem to have any impact. Although I perceived definite benefit, I still had a very low initial BOLT score after a regular WHM practice. Granted, this was only 3 weeks of practice, and N=1, but I was surprised my score was so low. It was an unintended coincidence that I did WHM first, then OA, but when I first read about the BOLT score I imagined that I would get at least 20 seconds, knowing I had done WHM regularly for 3 weeks. I don't intend this to mean that WHM doesn't work, I just wanted to note this phenomenon.

    Final take: what an interesting vortex I have found myself in. Between FMS and DNS studies, I felt like I knew the importance of the breath. I practice with clients regularly diaphragmatic breathing, "owning" the position with integrity, etc. Not once before delving into these topics did I ever think about the volume of breath as just as important factor as depth of breath. The learning always continues.
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  11. Harald Motz

    Harald Motz Quadruple-Digit Post Count Certified Instructor

    in my not so educated understanding the (hyper)ventilation leads more to a (great) reduction of CO2 levels of the blood.

    Breathing to a great degree is regulated by the CO2 levels of blood. Anyone is accustomed to his personal level of CO2 content. When it rises (just slightly) one takes a breath.

    O2 blood satiation at rest for me is about 97%, take or give one. Sure, with (hyper)ventilation I can get to 100%, but the big difference (in breath retention time) in my understanding comes from different (starting) CO2 levels. A reliable pulse oximeter is a very useful tool, and shows, that the impact of breathing and no breathing is very impactful on blood composition.

    With "OA" you start with your accustomed (normal) CO2 level. Breath in, breath out. Stop. CO2 level, even at resting rises quickly, leading to felt breath hunger quickly too. Breathe.

    When using WHM after the (hyper)breathing CO2 level is low, cause it was expelled by the excess breathing. So mind and body have no urge to breathe for a (relatively) long time, until it gets a bit higher than personally accustomed to. Breath hunger knocks (for me on my stomach/diaphragm literally) at the door then, and I let the breath in.


    Hope I messed not with the topic to much.
  12. pet'

    pet' More than 5000 posts

  13. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides StrongFirst Director of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Instructor

    @wespom9, all that sounds right to me. 13 is a typical American score. I recently started a new student with a CP of 11. The good news is that most people who are willing to practice a lot in the first few weeks can make great progress during that time and then switch to less frequent practices while still maintaining good numbers. The bad news is that adherence to the program isn't always good - I recommend 4 practices per day for the first 4 weeks as a baseline.

    In my discussions with my teacher, we treat a 25-second control pause (your BOLT) as a good baseline - basically not unhealthy but still with room for improvement.

    A 40-second CP was, for me, where I was able to reduce the amount of asthma and allergy medicines I took, but it wasn't sufficient to be able to get off them entirely. Professor Buteyko advocated a 60-second CP/BOLT as the goal for ridding oneself of the symptoms of chronic disease, and that's how it worked for me. My CP was stuck in the 40-50 range for a while, but when I finally got it to 60, I was able to get rid of all my medicines and I've been off them for a couple of years now.

    How to maintain on a reduced practice schedule is going to be highly individual.

    The most common mistake I find is people pushing themselves when testing their CP. There are ways to push yourself when doing these breathing exercises, and I use them regularly, but one must be able to know the difference.

    I keep my CP around 70-75 - I find I need that in order to feel my best. I've had it at or over 80 at times but that starts to feel weird, too - 60-80 is the sweet spot.

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  14. Steve W.

    Steve W. Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    I don't have a strong opinion about either of these breathing practices. I know nothing about Wim Hof, but have used some breathing techniques that I got from Scott Sonnon that I believe are adapted from Buteyko (and that I subjectively find help normalize my breathing after exertion).

    I happened to find the following article that is highly skeptical/critical of Buteyko. I am not making or seeking an argument here, but I did find it interesting:

    Buteyko Breathing Technique – Nothing to Hyperventilate About
  15. wespom9

    wespom9 More than 500 posts Certified Instructor

    @Harald Motz great points on all. I suppose where I seem confused about the WHM is the benefit of the controlled hyperventilation before the pause. It seemed to alleviate symptoms for me, but I haven't seen an explanation of why yet.

    @Steve Freides I've committed myself to doing both exercises at least once a day, ideally two, for 3-4 weeks. After I do that and note my results I'll see moving forward the ideal regime for me.
    I also 100% agree about the "pushing oneself" comment. It probably took me 2-3 days to really understand a control pause vs maximal pause, and a medium compared to high "air hunger".

    @Steve W. I'll have to take some time tonight to read that page!
  16. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides StrongFirst Director of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Instructor

    @Steve W., one of the running jokes of Pavel's earlier writings was that the Evil Empire had lots of time, lots of people to test theories on, and was only secondarily concerned with why things worked. They were focused on empirical knowledge - basically, they tried everything, they noticed what worked, and then sometimes they went about the business of trying to understand why.

    The work of Buteyko strikes me in a similar way. I have experienced its effects first-hand. I encourage you, by way of seeing an alternative to what you read in that article, to go to Advanced Buteyko Institute - ABI and watch the half-hour BBC documentary on Buteyko breathing techniques. I find the source trust-worthy, and the results convincing.

    I still have the symptoms of the herniated disc that made me bed-ridden and kept me from walking normally for over a year - what has changed? In a word, my nervous system has been reprogrammed. I still weigh the same, and I'm still built like I've always been. I believe Buteyko works in the same general way, and if you read about the approach in detail, you'll find that this is what we're trying to do - to reprogram the breathing centers of our body to function, if you will, stronger - to feel less of a need for oxygen.

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  17. Steve W.

    Steve W. Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    @Steve Freides
    I watched the documentary.

    Actually, nothing in your experience or in the documentary is inconsistent with the Science Based Medicine critique, which does not deny that Buteyko breathing techniques may lead to a reduction in asthma symptoms and/or medication use.

    The 1994 Mitchell study cited in the video (which does not appear in a Pubmed search), is not addressed in the article. However, the results of that study, as described in the video, are consistent with the other studies discussed in the article.
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  18. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides StrongFirst Director of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Instructor

    Well, yes and no. The article seems negative to me, quite negative, actually, while the documentary seems positive.

  19. Steve W.

    Steve W. Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    That's fair.

    The tone of the article is definitely critical. Much of the content is critical too, but the author does cite research that shows asthma sufferers using Buteyko techniques reporting a lessening of symptoms and use of medication, and admits the plausibility of these results, despite his other criticisms.

    Edit: Both the research cited in the BBC documentary and the research cited in the Science Based Medicine article show no change in pulmonary function tests, even though patients using Buteyko reported improved symptoms and used less medication.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2017
  20. Tarzan

    Tarzan More than 500 posts

    I just got on board with the Wim Hof breathing yesterday. I had a phone call from my brother the other day & he's been using the WH method for a few months and he loves it. I a real woos when it comes to anything cold but after today I'm willing to give it a go.

    The first time I tried (last night) I held my breath for 56, 1:05 and 1:12 seconds and it was a bit of a battle, I was overthinking it way too much and focusing on the what ifs - what if I pass out what if this is dangerous etc.

    This morning after breakfast I tried again. Apparently it's not ideal after a meal as you can't breathe into the abdomen properly but I went a bit better with 1:18, 1:32 and 1:48. I still had that fear mechanism in play though and I still didn't make the most of it.

    I just tried again just a while ago and tried to switch of any conscious thought and just go with it and I went much, much better. This time I did 1:41, 2:18 and on the last cycle I did 4:13. I couldn't believe it when I looked at the stopwatch. For all these attempts I visualised a water monitor (lizard) that I'd seen hold its breath underwater for over ten minutes on a camping trip a few years ago.

    After the last breath hold I had an experience like I was on drugs, I was seeing colours & patterns and an eye staring at me, it felt like an OOBE experience I had one time when I was pronounced dead in an ambulance after a bike/car accident.

    So, I don't know if I pushed it too far and held my breath for too long but it felt awesome. Maybe I fried a few brain cells through hypoxia but I don't use most of them anyway, so I can spare a few :confused:
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