I Took the Wim Hof Plunge! And Here’s What Happened.
The Chilling Experience that brought Warmth to my Heart.
The IceMan, Wim Hof, is a Dutch extremist who uses cold exposure to tap into his inner potential.
He’s convinced that everybody is capable of doing the same.
The Wim Hof Method is a combination of breathing, cold therapy, and mindset.
This guy has like 26 world records where he has exposed himself to cold. He’s done amazing things like climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in shorts and sat in ice for almost 2 full hours.
His training teaches you to control your breathing, heart rate, and blood circulation so you too can withstand nature’s cold elements. He believes you can achieve great things by controlling your mind and body.
My Journey Into Breathwork
I first heard about Wim Hof about two years ago.
My Kundalini teacher had just taken a weekend fundamentals course and was sharing her experience with the class. My initial thought was…
I am cold all the time, I don’t need any of that in my life.
Since then Wim Hof started popping up occasionally in conversation. I knew he had gone Hollywood once he appeared on Gwyneth Paltrow’s Netflix series The Goop.
I have been on a journey with conscious breathwork for a couple years now. My love for breath starting in yoga. Once I found yin yoga I knew I was on the right path for my own internal journey. Then one day it hit me…
I just want to breathe
Still, as my journey into breath continues, I was avoiding the cold exposure methods Wim Hof is so famous for. Yet I found myself testing out a lot of different breathing techniques that were very similar to what I knew about the method.
My Wim Hof Experience
Finally I decided to take a closer look. After all, I am no stranger to cold water. Growing up a swimmer in the Pacific Northwest means lots of rain and cold days at the pool.
I also have a dear friend who I have the pleasure of hiking with. She has a habit of doing cold water dips whenever our hiking adventures lead us to a glacier lake. I have gotten used to this ritual myself and although I dread it, I always feel great after.
Joining a breathwork group on Facebook, I was introduced to a Canadian Wim Hof Level 2 instructor, Dan De Luis. He offers bi-weekly Facebook live breathwork instruction and I was hooked.
Digging in a little deeper I found a fundamentals course happening in Seattle. I signed up immediately and got two of my breathwork sisters to join me.
This four hour intro was led by Reed Joseph Wasser. Also a level two certified Wim Hof Instructor.
My energy was high upon arrival. I was so excited and scared about the ice. I had been taking cold showers leading up to the event but was still curious how it was going to play out.
The workshop took place in a private residence in Seattle. I knew there was a 25 person maximum at this event and I think there were 17 of us total in the class. I haven’t been in a room with this many people in over eight months because of COVID, so I was a little nervous at first.
Most people were respectful about the mask wearing, and Reed did an excellent job of putting us all at ease.
He was informative and engaging, and no doubt a believer in the method. A lot of what he said rang true with the messages I’ve been following about mindset and proper breathing. He also gave more insight into Wim himself and the wild man who created this journey.
Up to the rooftop patio we all headed for some breathwork.
Reed beat on his drum as he guided us through the breathwork. The drum helped set a rhythm and pace. All the while he continued to remind us that we were in control, that we were free to go at our own pace.
A great guide to inward reflection. It was very much in line with the breathing I had been practicing with Dan at home. Both men fell into a deep falsetto while guiding, “breath in”, putting you in a receptive state.
Going through the rounds you begin to feel your body heat up. After roughly 30 rounds of deep rhythmic mouth breathing we held our lungs empty. Holding here for a minute or so, then breathing in deep and holding for 15 more seconds. Flowing right into the next round.
Once we go through the philosophy and mindset we begin some guided breath movement classic to the Wim Hof Method.
Our swimsuits now on, pools of ice in the center, and the 2 minute challenge begins.
Ice Ice Baby!
Two by two we take turns slowly entering the individual ice baths. Guided by locking hands and eyes with Reed.
As my turn approached I was nervous and cold. It’s October in Seattle so roughly 60 degrees out, and here we all are in our swimsuits.
Reed took my hand strong in his. He connected with my eyes, as I lowered into the water he gave me a sturdy nod that said “You got this.” Letting go I lowered my hands into the ice, closed my eyes, and focused completely on long deep breathing. Distracted only by the electrical charges that jetted from my hands and the ice I felt moving around me.
My extremities were very aware of the ice touching my body, but, as instructed, I focused more on my core.
I realized I felt warm.
Once I found that I stayed with it.
I kept repeating in my mind…
Inner Fire, Inner Peace
Inner Fire, Inner Peace
Inner Fire, Inner Peace
I was ready when Reed called our two minute mark, but I didn’t feel anxious to exit either. I took time to dunk my head, embracing the cold fully before getting out.
Everyone clapped and the pleasure of knowing it’s over hits me in the form of a huge smile. Slowly I started back into the movement and did a couple more rounds of breath before reaching for my towel.
At this point I realize how cold I am. I can feel myself trembling as my adrenaline rush subsides.
“Let your body tremble!” Reed says to the group. Reminding us our body is resetting. Asking us to move slow and clear out the noise from past programming.
Once the last of us had conquered the ice I start to layer up.
And just like that it was over.
The whole ride home the car was abuzz with shared experience and the thrill of what the heck we just did.
I was exhilarated! I wanted more.
That night I took a really warm shower and reflected on the day. How good it felt to give in to the ice and how very much alive I was feeling in my body still.
Anxiety High I Go Back for More!
I woke at 4am the next day and began what turned into an 8 hour anxiety attack!
Now I don’t get anxiety attacks, so I was wondering what the heck this Wim Method just did to me.
I was having an internal struggle about returning today to take the advanced course or not.
At this point I hadn’t committed to anything, so why was I a wreck?
I decided to face my anxious attitude and go for day two.
I arrived to a much smaller group and emotionally vomited my anxiety onto the group.
Everyone was understanding and glad I was able to fight through the programing to come back for a deeper understanding.
The funny thing was…
Once I vocalized my fear, it completely went away.
Not only did I have an amazing deep breathing experience that took me to a higher level, but the untimed ice bath we took outside in the pouring rain felt like the exact healing ritual I never knew I always needed.
The wind and rain came down on me like a baptism.
Even as I sat trembling uncontrollably in meditation. Inside I felt safe. At ease. I almost laughed at the absurdity of it all. My mind had let go of its story about the cold and all that was left was this feeling.
A feeling I don’t know I can explain to anyone who hasn’t been on the journey.
Where this journey goes from here I’m not sure. But I do know I shared what I would call a sacred moment with these strangers. Connected through sheer will and embracing the cold as one.
Something very tribal woke up inside myself over the course of the weekend. A rite of passage that we miss in our world of modern conveniences.
A sacred feeling buried within.
The Wim Hof Method might not be for everyone. But after travelling through this journey I have a greater respect and understanding of who Wim Hof is, and why this method works.