“My wife Josie and I discovered Wim Hof when our four children were very young. At the time they were all under four years old and we were kind of struggling with exhaustion, night feeding and all that stuff.
At that time we had some tragedies in the family. Some people very close to us have died and we have struggled with grief, trauma and heartbreak.
It was around this time that I heard Wim Hof speaking on a podcast late one night and what he said sounded incredible. He explained how very gentle breathing and some cold can revolutionize our feelings and improve our health, happiness and strength.
That was it. Me and Josie started practicing a bit of breathing technique along with a gradual exposure to cold at the end of our hot showers and the transformation was so sudden. We immediately began to be more patient with the children. We had more energy. Our health started to improve.
Within weeks we felt completely different. Our energy levels were really high and even though it took a lot longer to deal with the grief, we felt like we had a chance to deal with it. It wasn’t overwhelming anymore.
Back then the only way to learn more about Wim Hof was to become an instructor, so I went off to train as one. The courses attract people from all walks of life. Even though everyone comes from a different background and country, this exploration of the cold, breath and spirit connects people very strongly.
Things have changed a lot since then, but in the old days Wim Hof was
very much part of the training. He’s an incredible character who showed for the first time that we can improve our immune system through breathing. He is shown for
the first time you can climb Mount Everest in just a pair of shorts.
From the outside, he looks like this big giant of a man who does incredible things. But what’s so refreshing about him is that he’s 100 percent himself. He is probably one of the most open and loving people I have ever met.
The training started with an online course and then we flew to Holland and took the train all the way to rural Netherlands to Wim’s house where they had built a sort of hall in the back garden.
My first ice bath was in Wim’s back garden, and I had never done an ice bath before going out there. I’d had cold showers and swam a few times so it was shocking enough to jump into an ice bath for the first time and then Wim jumped in next to me!
After that we came home for more homework and practice and then we spent a week in the depths of the Polish mountains in winter, in the snow, with Wim and the top instructors. Back then we did things like mountaineering in shorts.
The training sounds kind of extreme and from the outside it can look like, ‘Oh my god, people are up to their necks in ice!’ But really, it’s about never forcing or pushing yourself and always listening to your body and not peer pressure or ego. That’s the real skill, and that’s what we’re trying to teach people.
I am now part of the Wim Hof Academy and we teach the new instructors. I also lead workshops and retreats around Ireland. When people come to our events, almost everyone focuses on the ice bath. What they don’t realize, however, is that the real power lies in the breathing exercises.
Some people see colors; Some people hear noises. Sometimes it can be emotional. People can lie down and have these profound experiences just because they’re breathing, and sometimes they’re caught off guard because their minds are on the ice bath.
When we first started offering workshops, they were mostly attended by men and very few women. Maybe people saw Wim and thought it was some kind of macho thing? But that has changed completely over the last few years and we now have a majority of women.
I was trying to figure out why this was happening, so I asked a guy – a really high-level athlete – who used to come to all our events if he told other people about it. And he said, ‘No, no, no. That is my secret. My coaches don’t even know.
On the other hand, women have a great experience and then they come back with four of their friends, and then those four friends come back with four of their friends. It’s interesting to see how it spread in very different ways among different groups.
Do men and women experience the cold differently? Well, women in general often say, “I’m not sure I can handle the cold.” But then when they come in, they’re like ninjas. You have such resilience.
Many of the women who experience the kind of breathing we use to cope with the stress of the cold will compare it to the breathing experience when having a child. Obviously they are completely different experiences, but the common denominator is that by using our breath we can gain a little control and a sense of calm amidst the chaos.
On the other hand, and again, speaking in general terms, I don’t think a man has ever said to me, “I can’t get out in the cold.” But then they get in and sometimes they’re a bit shocked by it, and they might have a bit of stage fright.
I will always remember an amazing woman in her late seventies who came to one of my retreats in Co Clare. She had led a very eventful life, but due to her family situation she was alone a lot and her health deteriorated. She was living on an old-age pension and didn’t have much money.
She got wind of the Wim Hof Method and decided to come to this retreat, but she didn’t know if she belonged there. She worried that everyone would be young or that she couldn’t take the cold.
But she did all the breathing exercises and she was great in the ice baths. I remember looking at her and thinking, ‘My God, I hope I’m that brave and open at her age’.
After that we made a deal. I told her she could come to any of my events for free, so she would drive across the country whenever she needed an ice bath and she was a real inspiration to everyone she met.
Our retreats and shorter half-day workshops tend to sell out fairly quickly, but you can experience the benefits of the Wim Hof Method at home. At the end of your hot shower, simply switch to cold—even if it’s only for five or ten seconds.
And when the cold hits your skin and you feel that shock and chaos, just try to find your breath. And that’s enough – you’ll feel completely different after a brief chill at the end of your hot shower.
The Wim Hof Method balances hormones, improves circulation, and reduces inflammation and pain. But it also shows people that they are capable of more than they think they are.
It could be something like climbing a mountain in shorts, or being a more patient parent, or being a quieter co-worker. The things we can do more of don’t have to be these spectacular things. In fact, it’s often the very small things that have a big impact on our overall quality of life.”
As Katie Byrne was told
https://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/wim-hof-method-within-weeks-we-felt-totally-different-our-levels-of-energy-were-high-and-we-felt-we-had-a-chance-to-deal-with-our-grief-41564279.html Wim Hof Method: “Within weeks we felt totally different. Our energy was high and we felt we had a chance to deal with our grief.