“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts” ~ Thich Nhat Hahn
Breathwork practices are a great tool for improving your health and calming your mind. There are many different techniques but one of my absolute favourites is Wim Hof’s. This powerful technique can also alter your blood pH, decrease systemic inflammation, and tap into your immune system! (And of course this is all backed by research you can verify for yourself. But the best way to understand it is to give it a try.)
The first time I tried Wim Hof’s breathwork technique was in December 2019. It was perfect timing for what was about to happen next in March 2020. But unfortunately, it took me until December 2021 to make it a part of my daily self care routine. Here’s some tips so hopefully it won’t take you 2 years to incorporate this healthy practice into your life.
- Make it a non-negotiable. Commit to doing it every day for yourself, your health, to improve your life. And if that’s not enough to motivate you (like it wasn’t for me), get yourself an accountability partner. It’s a fact that we will disappoint ourselves before others so grab a friend, a colleague, whoever you can and commit to each other to do this practice daily. My friend Sarah and I started this and texted each other every day for the first 5 months of our practice. Then I got my husband involved and it has become a non-negotiable for both of us.
- Use the app or guided videos. This allows you to focus solely on your breath, and not counting in your head. This was huge for me! Back in 2019 when I first started I would try and keep track of my breaths myself. This became so stressful and frustrating that it was almost counterproductive as I would lose count all the time and worry that I was doing it wrong. I even tried having my husband count for me so I could try and relax and enjoy the practice. That was a little bit better but now I love having Wim guide me with his soothing voice and inspirational words.
- Progress, not perfection. As with everything else in life it’s the progress that counts. Be kind with yourself as you’re learning a new skill. And give yourself credit for taking charge of your own health and wellbeing! And if you’re counting and you lose track or fall asleep, don’t worry and just pick up at the last number you remember.
- Reframe the sensations. I said this technique was powerful and I mean it! You’ll start to feel the energy moving thru your body and it can feel like anxiety, especially on the breath holds. For anyone like myself who has lived with a lot of anxiety, this isn’t a welcomed feeling. For me it starts with a warm, rising tingling, kinda like the beginnings of a panic attack. If this happens to you, remind yourself that YOU are in control, you are just breathing and you can take a breath at any time. This sensation is the energy moving and working its way thru your body, let it flow. And when you are ready to push yourself, play with those sensations and see how long you can hold your breath thru them.
Hopefully these tips are helpful in getting you started on your own breathwork journey. Check out the Resources page for a link to a tutorial by Wim Hof. And if you try it, share your experience. I’d love to know how you feel and how you’re incorporating this practice into your self care routine.
~Stay Happy, Healthy, High