13 observations after 5 months and 200+ sessions of Wim Hof Breathing Method

UPDATE  April 2017- Tinnitus seems to be a widespread problem. See point 11 and comments at bottom for discussion.

Disclaimer: I haven’t officially subscribed to any course. I just pieced together the practice from online studies, videos, articles and podcasts. I’m also not a doctor this isn’t medical advice. After 215 breathing sessions ranging from 10 to 120 minutes I have concluded the following points:


  1. Different levels of intensity produce very different effects:


My most intense sessions (30+mins) led to hallucination, fainting and a level of over-oxygenation that made me think I was going to crash my car. I should never have tried it in the car but it was a rude awakening.  At my most relaxed, I was barely holding my breath for long and not breathing too intensely. I found a mild calming effect which allowed me to perform it around ‘normal’ people.


  1.  Never do it in water, driving or even standing up.


As mentioned above, the effect of the rush after holding your breath varies widely. I once fainted and smacked my head off a wall. I woke up screaming for some reason 5 seconds later but quickly recovered.  60 seconds later me and a friend were laughing for 10 minutes at my reaction but safe to say that initially, it really needs to be done in a safe environment.


3. Closing your eyes leads to far greater intensity.


I often do a mild version while watching TV at night leading to some minimal effect. Alone in a dark room leads to much higher concentration and understanding of where my limits are.


4. The hallucinations are a bit of shock.


Having never taken hallucinogens, I have mostly backed out of going deep into the hallucinations which occurred for me during longer or more intense breathing. Maybe it is as strange for those who have but I do feel myself become more relaxed with each ‘deep’ session.


5. The hallucinations keep going after you stop breathing.


These last another 20 minutes at most for me but initially it was a bit of shock that I couldn’t just ‘stop’ the experience when I wanted too. After a few incidences of this I learned to relax into it a bit more.


6. Going for 50 breaths in a less intense way than 30, is less harsh on the throat and produces the same effect


By breathing for longer and less intensely I found I could do the method without really counting or concentrating too much. I stopped when the tingling began.


7.  The best way to be consistent was to use he ‘way of life’ app (no affiliation). It has nothing to do with Wim Hof but is the best habit tracker I have ever used.


8. Doing the breathing after exercising is much more likely to produce dizziness and stronger effects. This was when the above mentioned fainting occurred.

I found that the effect is also enhanced by practicing on an empty stomach.

9. The effect on hangovers is minimal.


On the Joe Rogan podcast Wim claims that 20 mins of it will lead to being almost fully recovered. I tried it 5 or 6 times and didn’t really feel much. Some calming of drink-induced anxiety but nothing more. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Np0jGp6442A


10. It’s addictive.


I have increasingly found myself using it in stressful situations. Like other descriptions of meditation, it doesn’t remove anxiety completely but usually reduces a level 8 to a level 6 for example. Having never really engaged consistently in meditation before I don’t have much of a reference here.


11. Tinnitus – For the first 100 sessions I experience extreme ringing in my ears.


It seems to have mostly passed but will re-occur sometimes during intense sessions. I haven’t found any solution or explanation for this. Anyone?


I went to a hearing specialist who told me that deep meditation can ‘trigger’ a disruption in the inner ear. She didn’t have much more than that and unfortunately had no remedy for reversing it except the usual therapies. http://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/tinnitus-ringing-in-the-ears-and-what-to-do-about-it


12. I still can’t get the heat effect going.


Although I have followed all attempts to do this I can’t keep my heat levels up in the cold. I have increased my tolerance for the cold, but I doubt that I have improved any ability to generate the heat that some others have claimed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QLqqkP9YV0


13. At the beginning of the breath hold, if you really relax, you can start to generate waves of calm/excitement. By subsequently concentrating on these waves they can intensify. 


No real explanation for this one and I could be just imagining it. Anyone else notice this?


14. It needs longer term study.


As others have mentioned, Rhonda Patrick explains it best at 36mins into this interview. https://youtu.be/389c31dD9xg?t=36m39s . Wim will always be known for creating the method but as he has stated, mainstream science will popularise it. I think the biggest factor would be to track a group for a number of years though and see how it affected them. Let’s hope it happens.


All credit goes to http://www.icemanwimhof.com


18 thoughts on “13 observations after 5 months and 200+ sessions of Wim Hof Breathing Method

  1. I learned pretty quick that the breathing should never be done standing, i fainted quick for doing the retention standing. I have no idea how long i was out


  2. Good review, I found this page because I got the Tinnitus too during the sessions but now I have it all day long. I only did a few sessions.
    Now looking into it, how and why this happens,


      1. The ringing is caused by the spike in your blood pressure. It could also be made worse by an ear injury. I had a hole in my right ear drum when I was young, now when ever I do intense WHM routines, (especially the pushups) it rings like crazy.

        Just don’t go so intense, I take it as a sign that I am pushing too hard. Is also a sign that you might be about to black out.

        PS don’t ever do WHM in a car, or standing up. There are 4 confirmed deaths related to WHM so far, don’t add yourself to that list.


  3. So you were only experiencing tinnitus during the breathing exercises, or did it stay with you afterwards (and become permanent)?

    I’m asking because I tried out the method for the first time, and after holding my breath for 2:30 minutes (the max I could do), I also experience an increase in my tinnitus. Plus, it became a hissing/white noise sound. After 5-10 minutes everything returns to normal.


    1. I never had tinnitus before using the Wim Hof method. Then during one session it suddenly came on and gradually went away like you said. But now in times of stress or after a breathing session it returns. I have stopped the practice for the time being because of this.


      1. Hi Buaigh.
        I have experienced the same. Have had tinnitus 24/7 for over 3 months now. This is not a minor issue, and I am quite surprised that WH (as far as I have seen) does not take this seriously, neither responds to comments on You-tube or FB. Take care and all the best. Terje


  4. WARNING!!! I
    still have the tinnitus after doing only five reading sessions for months now and I went to the hospital two times this is probably never going to go away all because I read about a man that could swim in ice and I tried to upgrade my health the breathing exercises definitely gave me something for the rest of my life which I am not pleased with I hope more people experiencing this report it when ever and where ever they again so people can be want not to go about and do these breathing exercises


  5. I did a few sessions of this and I had tinnitus during the third session…It thankfully went away within a few minutes. Mine was a similar hissing sound that others have described. I guess I am going to abandon this approach. It’s a shame as I was really hopeful of the potential of this. More people need to know about this possible side effect. If I had assurance that it would only be there for the breathing session, I would continue. Now that I have seen some who seem to have a permanent condition, I am going to abandon the whole thing. I feel bad for those who were doing this to improve their lives, only to find they are now in worse shape then before they began…


  6. I would like to share with you my experience with the Wim Hof ​​method and the tinnitus I had.
    At the moment I have a stressful everyday life and I am sitting a lot on my laptop. The day I got tinnitus, after such a day, I had a long phone call with a friend. Overall, I felt tense and wanted to find some relaxation with the Wim Hof ​​method. After I arrived on the last lap, I listened to some music to relax. After the music, I noticed the tinnitus. I went to sleep and he was still there, every time I thought he was gone after getting up. But he stayed the whole next day …

    How I got rid of it: After research, I found out that tinnitus has a lot to do with neck tension, so for the first time in my life, I did yoga for the back and neck until I barely noticed tinnitus. After that I did the Wim Hof ​​method, the beeping was omnipresent. After the exercise, I focused on the natural noise in my ear caused by the flow of blood and fell asleep while lying in bed. The next morning the tinnitus was gone. According to my research, it is caused by tension in the neck and behind the earlobes. The tension builds up pressure on the nerves there and disturbs the blood flow. Through yoga and heat you can counteract this and by focusing on the natural noise of the Wim Hof ​​method, the natural blood flow in this region is stimulated and the tinnitus disappears.

    I hope this experience helps others too. Combines WHM with Yoga


  7. Can you please delete my post above? Tinnitus is caused by tension in the neck. Stop practicing the Wim Hof ​​method, go to the physiotherapist and do an Atlas correction on the neck. Then the tinnitus disappears. Here are some links on how to stretch the affected muscles:

    Click to access Flyer_Tinnitus.pdf

    Your doctor can contact this doctor who has found the reason for tinnitus: https://www.mh-hannover.de/reha-sturm.html

    and make yoga for your neck.


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