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:
- 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.
- 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