Breathwork for Anxiety: Wim Hof Tips to Harness Your Power
Natural Ways to Reduce Stress with the Wim Hof Method
Our stress today can come from so many different sources. The fast pace of life, complicated relationships, environmental toxins, financial strain, and others. Stress, whether emotional or physical, can distract us. Over time, it can all take a toll on our health.
Many of us have experienced heightened stress and even anxiety over the past 18 months. Whether the pandemic still has you reeling or you are carrying years of stress, we all need help letting go so healing can begin. This is why we invited Bob Soulliere to share the Wim Hof Method with us during our Safe Haven Fireside Chat series.
About Bob Soulliere, Founder of Breathe Your Power
Bob Soulliere, is the founder of Breathe Your Power and is a Level 2 Wim Hof Method Instructor. His students learn how to control stressors. improve mental and sports performance, address breathing pattern dysfunctions, reduce chronic stress, and more fully experience the beauty in every moment of life.
Bob studied under Wim Hof himself and shared how the Wim Hof Method led him from unhealthy and unhappy to strong and empowered. He taught us ways to access our body’s internal toolkit and feel better. He concluded with a mini Wim Hof breath work session!
“Dutch extreme athlete Wim Hof got his nickname ‘The Iceman’ by breaking a number of records related to cold exposure including: climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in shorts, running a half marathon above the Arctic Circle barefoot, and standing in a container while covered with ice cubes for more than 112 minutes.
Using ‘cold, hard nature’ as his teacher, his extensive training has enabled him to learn to control his breathing, heart rate, and blood circulation and to withstand extreme temperatures.”
Through his work, he helped science discover new ways that the mind is capable of controlling the body’s internal processes. At 17 he chose to always remain spontaneous, and he has remained true to that mission. He continues to teach the Wim Hof Method and experiment with testing the body’s undiscovered power.
Access Your Body’s Internal Toolkit
As Wim Hof proved, the body is able to do a lot to help itself out of the stress response and inflammation cycle, when it knows how. But, you need to know the hacks to help retrain your natural response to stressors. Bob explained it by saying:
“You are your greatest biohack. You have those tools on board.”
If you can learn how to access and use those tools, you can reach new levels of calm and confidence. The more you practice, the longer you will be able to maintain mastery over your body’s response system and handle life’s twists.
Bob gave us a snapshot overview of some of the body’s tools:
Habits for a Healthy Nervous System: Your Body’s Remote Control
The nervous system is the body’s remote control. If you can learn to control it, you will gain the ability to influence many of your internal processes and reactions. Breath work is one of the most powerful ways to pick up that remote and start pushing the buttons.
“Your nervous system is how you experience the world. It’s your thoughts, it’s how you feel things,” Bob explained. “We think we don’t have control. But everything can be a choice. By adding to the things you know a little bit at a time, you can gain control and your comfort zone can expand.”
Bob shared his top list of habits that we can implement to improve the health of our nervous system:
Cortisol, Adrenaline, and Cold Therapy
Cortisol is a necessary hormone, best known for helping the body regulate metabolism and respond to stress. Your body’s cortisol production typically peaks in the mid to late morning, and falls in the late afternoon.
Cortisol is essential for the body. But, with chronic stress, cortisol levels start to increase unnaturally throughout the day and night. So at night, when the body should be calming down, cortisol can start to spike causing restlessness.
Cold therapy is a trick that activates one of your body’s natural tools for stopping cortisol: adrenaline. By taking a cold shower or even sticking your hand in a bucket of cold water, you activate your body’s adrenaline. When adrenaline kicks in, the body shuts down cortisol.
The result can leave you feeling calmer 15-20 minutes after the cold therapy experience. With the cortisol quiet and the adrenaline down after the initial excitement of the temperature change, the body is able to enter a happy state of relaxation.
Is Inflammation Always Bad?
Discussions about cortisol often lead to questions about inflammation. In the chronic illness world, inflammation is another thing that can have a bad reputation. But, inflammation is not always bad.
Inflammation is an essential part of building muscle. It can help the body fight infection. Things take a bad turn when inflammation grows and becomes uncontrolled. Cold therapy can be a great help for chronic inflammation. It can help calm the body down, especially when paired with breathing techniques.
The combination of careful breathing with the intense cold trains your body to reduce inflammation on its own. It also helps your body realize it can handle more than it thinks. This can gradually retrain the body’s initial reaction to the discomforts of illness and other stressors, for the better.
Wim Hof Method Breathing
At the end of the Safe Haven Fireside Chat, Bob led participants through a Wim Hof Method Breath work cycle. He started by reviewing four important safety tips:
If you are pregnant or experience seizures, you should not attempt Wim Hof Method breathing
Do not practice Wim Hof Method breathing in water
Do not practice the Wim Hof Method while driving
It is best to do the Wim Hof Method sitting or laying down
After reviewing those important tips, he guided everyone through a cycle of breathing. It began with conscious breathing, then shifted to a few rounds of deeper breathing. Throughout the breath work he played music from this playlist, which everyone enjoyed!
Participants shared they felt some of the expected results, from tingling in the hands to the urge to yawn. One guest shared that the breath practice gave her greater relief from chronic pain than she has ever experienced in physical therapy. Bob has seen many amazing results from his students over the years and was thrilled to introduce this method of healing to our community.
Connect with Bob and Sign up for the next Safe Haven!
Whether you’re ready to plunge into an ice bath or try a full Wim Hof Method Breathing class, Bob Soulliere will be leading our guests through these and other experiences at our healing retreat this January, Journey Within, in North Carolina. You can also keep up with Bob’s inspiring Instagram account and find information about his upcoming classes @breathe.your.power.
For the chance to sign up for the next Safe Haven, join our email list at www.tbyhguide.com! Each live event is FREE!
We hope this helps you on your journey to take back your health!
We want to remind you that Take Back Your Health™ is not a medical authority! We create spaces for our communities to share health concerns and find resources to aid their health journeys. In the SAFE HAVEN Fireside Chat series, we invite experts to share about their areas of research or experience.
We encourage you to consult with these experts or other professionals before applying the advice to your situation. Additionally, links throughout this article intend to define difficult concepts. They are not explicitly recommended sources for information.