The Way of the Iceman


  • Intense exercise short circuits the conscious mind, allowing the athlete to attain advanced states of meditational consciousness. The key to routinely accessing this bliss state is to present ourselves with a physical task of such severity that only by unifying body and mind can we succeed.
  • The Wim Hof Method combines breathing exercises, cold training and commitment.
  • The autonomic nervous system regulates things like your body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and determines whether your blood vessels dilate or contract.
  • Wim Hof has demonstrated his control of the autonomic nervous system. Whilst normal people cannot do this, it can be developed.
Cold Training
  • You cannot learn anything from the cold, but you can learn to not do some things.
  • When you expose yourself to the cold, your body automatically closes off blood flow to less vital parts of your body. Your body temperature must not fall below 35°C.
  • Your arms and legs get less blood as their blood vessels contract.
  • By exposing your body to the cold, you can train your blood vessels by closing them forcefully, then making them open again. It's like training your muscles.
  • If you expose yourself to extreme cold for too long without training, you run the risk of suffering cold damage. If your core body temperature falls below 35°C, the cold will get into your bones and tissues will die.
  • When Wim Hof is exposed to ice, his metabolic rate increases by 300% and increases the body's heat production.
  • He stays warm by controlling his autonomic nervous system with breathing exercises just before the cold exposure. Hof's training has given him a lot of brown fat, which means he stays warm more easily.
  • There are two varieties of fat:
    • White Fat mainly stores energy and is a reserve of nutrients. Beneath the skin, it serves as insulation of your body. It protects your organs, and also ensures that they stay in place.
    • Brown Fat is used for warming up your body by burning fatty acids and glucose.
  • It appears that brown fat tissues can be activated by cold.
  • White corpuscles defend the body against infection. People who take a cold shower daily also have more white corpuscles, possibly due to activation of the immune system.
  • Taking cold showers:
    • Take a warm shower
    • Breathe in and breath out slowly and deeply for about a minute
    • Turn the shower to cold
    • You may start breathing quickly and the cold will give you a shock
    • Control your breathing under the cold shower
    • Stay under cold shower for one minute.
  • Collateral smear is the phenomenon of "warm hands when in ice-coldwater", caused by a hormone that makes the walls of your blood vessels strong and elastic. When you immerse parts of your body in cold water, it releases strengthening hormones and an anti-freeze hormone. These hormones ensure that the vascular system continues to work automatically.
  • A resting respiratory rate of between six and ten times a minute is healthy.
  • You breathe oxygen in and carbon dioxide out. Oxygen is transferred to your bloodstream by your lungs and carried around your whole body. Excess carbon dioxide is transported in the opposite direction.
  • The ideal ratio of oxygen to carbon dioxide in the blood is 3:2
  • Oxygen is important for releasing energy from nutrients, while carbon dioxide is important for keeping the blood vessels open. It is essential that your blood vessels stay open so that oxygen can reach everywhere in your body.
  • Your heart and lungs are inextricably linked to each other. If you breathe faster, your heart rate will almost certainly increase.
  • It is important for the intervals between heart beats to vary. A healthy heart will beat faster at rest during inhalation than exhalation.
  • The Sympathetic Nervous System is associated with everything to do with action. If it dominates, your body will be in "fight-or-flight" mode. You will breathe faster, your digestive system will stop working momentarily, and your blood will move from your skin to your muscles, internal organs, and your brain.
  • The Parasympathetic Nervous System regulates everything relating to recovery: a slow heart rate and breathing, a good flow of blood to the skin, and an active digestive system
  • Breathing incorrectly can cause a whole range of health problems:
    • Pain in the shoulders or neck: overtaxed muscles that aid in short periods of rapid breathing
    • Agitation: the production of too much adrenaline
    • Intestinal problems: disruption to balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in blood
    • Tiring quickly: using up too much high-energy glucose reserves
    • Heart palpitations: excessive expulsion of carbon dioxide makes your blood vessels contract and the heart pumps quickly to compensate
  • Burning up your body's fuel incorrectly (by breathing too fast) may mean that you crave sugar and sweet foods more often.
  • Breathing too fast is a sign of stress.
  • The neocortex is the part of the brain that we use to analyze and calculate, as well as worry about the future. The "mammalian" brain processes emotion. The deeper "reptilian" brain regulates functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing.
  • An overstimulated neocortex can make us breathe faster. But you can also use the neocortex to slow down your breathing.
  • Breathing exercises: Breathe in, breathe out, and pause. Don't pause as long as possible, but just until you feel the need to breathe again.
  • The Win Hof breathing exercises are not intended to relax you. They are designed to enable you to control your mind and body so you can influence your autonomic nervous system. Their origins are based on Tummo meditation, with roots in the Indian Vajrayana tradition.
  • Vajrayana works from a cause and effect perspective. The aim is to transform every experience into fearless wisdom, spontaneous joy and energetic love.
  • The Tummo Technique combines breathing with visualization. It involves breathing in deeply and breathing out slowly. While breathing, practioners visualize flames, as a method to help raise their body temperature.
  • Breathe in deeply, without forcing yourself, and then out again slowly. By not fully breathing out, a small amount of air remains behind in the lungs. After doing that 30 times, hold your breath after breathing out, and wait until you feel the need to breathe in again.
  • By breathing in deeply, and out slowly, you expel a lot of carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide concentration in your blood will decrease and your blood vessels will contract. When you hold your breath after breathing out, your body retains a large quantity of carbon dioxide, and your body compensates by releasing more oxygen in the mitochondria. Mitochondria supply the energy for your body's cells. More oxygen in the mitochondria generates more energy. Waste substances are expelled and the oxygen has more room to penetrate deeper into the cell. Holding your breath after exhaling leads to a parasympathetic reaction (relax). This leads to aerobic dissimilation in the cell. By breathing more deeply and consciously, we can therefore generate more energy in the cell.
  • An expanded form of consciousnessis likely from the mitochondrial activity in the brain cells releasing chemicals in the pituitary and pineal glands. The pineal gland produces melatonin, a hormone that plays an important role in our sleep-wake and reproductive rhythms. Our hypothesis is that through the Wim Hof Method breathing exercises, much more oxygen enters the pineal gland, so the body will generate a lot more oxygen.
  • The cold training and breathing exercises are two major components of the Wim Hof Method. But to properly put these two components into practice, you need to make a serious commitment.
  • Walking barefoot strengthens the muscles in the foot - muscles that are hardly sued when you use shoes - and increase your bone mass.
  • The transition to running barefoot needs to be gradual to prevent the risk of foot injury.
  • Proponents of walking barefoot emphasize that "Earthing" - making contact with the Earth's electrical field - has a favourable effect on health.
  • The fast-5 diet Eat during a five-hour period each day, no more.
  • The fast-5 diet trains the body to mainly use fat as fuel instead of glucose.
  • You will gradually find you eat less, so eating high quality food is important.
  • Testing Wim Hof by injecting endotoxin into his body found that his adrenaline level went up prior to injection. Fewer inflammatory proteins were found and the initial increase in his cortisol level decreased much more quickly than among the control group. Adrenaline represses the inflammatory process.
  • Pain stimulus can depend upon the sensitivity of the receptors and degree of acidity of the body. If pH rises pain nearly disappears. Receptors also trigger fear and severe stress responses.
  • The breathing exercises increase pH and reduces pain. The cold receptors send a signal to the body to burn brown fat, quickly releasing large amounts of calories. The circulation in the epidermis is closed off so that less heat is lost from the body.
  • Stress increases NF-kB activity, but meditation and other stress reducing methods bring it back down. Special breathing exercises can increase adrenaline and activate CREB which in turn inhibits NF-kB. High NF-kB activity is generally associated with a large number of diseases.
  • Ice baths are sometimes used by athletes to speed up recovery after training. The restricting of blood vessels followed by the resulting more active circulation, helps remove waste materials faster from the body.

Find out more at Wim Hof Method website.

© 2020 Cedric Joyce