A Dutch-born world record holder, adventurer, daredevil and human guinea pig, The Iceman is best known for his preternatural ability to withstand extreme cold. Perhaps more significant and compelling is his experimentation and experience with specific and teachable breathing techniques. Rooted in the ancient yogic tradition of pranayama and canonised for a modern audience as The Wim Hof Method, Wim asserts that he can “turn his own thermostat up” and consciously activate his sympathetic nervous system by using his mind through yoga. With over 40,000 people endorsing his method in recent years, reporting that his method has greatly impacted their lives; boosting the immune system, improving mental health (anxiety and depression), relieve stress, more energy, better sleep, improve concentration and workout recovery.
The Wim Hof Method is built on three unbelievably simple pillars; Cold Exposure, Breathing & Commitment. He has been a practitioner of his method for over 15 years and it is gradually starting to gain traction in the scientific community, although it still receives strong opposition from the pharmaceutical industry.
In this captivating episode Wim Hof talks with Rich Roll, exploring his method where he describes the need for us to develop a deeper spiritual connection with our brain. His method is built on the premise that each of us has an innate capacity to create neurological control over our hormonal system, by incorporating regular cold exposure and breathing exercises, enabling us to manifest happiness, strength and health.
Scientific research into his method has found that exposure to the cold (cold showers/ice baths) triggers some major health benefits, including reduced inflammation that facilitates a fortified immune system, balanced hormone levels, improved sleep quality, and the production of endorphins— those feel-good chemicals in the brain that naturally elevate your mood.
The second pillar is breathing. We’re always breathing, yet we’re mostly unaware of its tremendous potential. Heightened oxygen levels hold a array of benefits: more energy, reduced stress levels, and an augmented immune response that swiftly deals with pathogens.
The third pillar is the foundation of the other two: both cold exposure and conscious breathing require patience and dedication in order to be fully mastered. Armed with focus and determination you are ready to explore and eventually master your own body and mind.
The number one reported route killer in the world today are cardiovascular related diseases. Regular exposure to cold water enables the veins in the body, of which there are 3 times the circumference of the earth inside each of us, to contract and dilate and increase their flexibility and therefore increase blood flow throughout the body. By stepping just a little bit outside of our comfort zone and turning the tap to cold at the end of our hot shower, willingly shocking the system and activating that reptilian part of our brain, the fight or flight response helps us to regain control of the reactive part of the brain and better cope under stress. Speaking from personal experience I can appreciate the unwillingness to turn that tap, but facing that fear will cause a ripple effect in your daily life.
An absolutely fascinating guy with charm and charisma for miles, Rich Roll’s conversation with Wim is less about human biology than it is about belief systems. It’s an exploration of dormant biological and mental potential. It’s about yoga, grief, depression, change and the nature of consciousness. And it’s about the ever expanding event horizon of human potential that should push and challenge and nudge you out of your comfort zone to call into question the unnecessary limits we self-impose upon ourselves daily.
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