How did you get started with Wim Hof (WH) breathing?
I started by utilizing the Wim Hof app and found an immediate sense of calm and peace in the extended breath holds. At the time I was struggling with lack of energy, brain fog, and poor sleep.
What was the first thing you noticed that changed for you after doing the breathing consistently?
The first thing I noticed was how relaxed I felt during the extended breath holds. I always struggled with feeling calm and meditating. My initial physical response was acceptance and there was a feeling of euphoria through my body. I felt like something was waking me up.
What are some of the symptoms you see in folks who have forgotten or never knew how to breathe fully?
Short shallow breathing is quite common and typically done with the mouth and chest. Often people gasp and sigh to take fuller breaths and it exacerbates a stress response instead of calming stress.
How can this style of breathwork enhance the immune system?
Tapping into the relaxed side of your nervous system and breathing through your nose and diaphragm allows your body to keep cortisol levels in a normal state which enhances your immune system and keeps your body prime to fight off infection. Higher cortisol levels can lead to a compromised immune system and affect sleep/recovery. Stress is not the enemy and short doses of stress can be quite beneficial like with Wim Hof Breathing, exercises, cold and hot exposure.
I exchanged my meditation for this breathing practice once I learned it, do you find many people doing that?
Yes, that’s quite common to shift practices. It’s good to have a number of different options for breathing exercises. It’s like working out. Some days it’s good to go heavy with Wim Hof Breathing and other days it’s better to be light and gentle with calming breathing practices. Having a strong understanding of your body and what it needs is key. Also a breathing coach can help like a personal trainer.
Good point! Is it better to practice in the morning on an empty stomach?
For Wim Hof breathing, yes it’s best to do it on an empty stomach there are other breathing techniques for full stomach to help digest better.
Why is nasal breathing optimal compared to though the mouth?
Nasal breathing is best and the most effective way to breathe. Your body is most efficient when you are breathing through your nose you actually convert more oxygen through your nose. Your body is designed to breathe through your nose and it’s filtered and cleaned for your body and immune system. There is no filter when you breathe with your mouth it’s worse for your teeth and gums. There is a correlation between mouth disease and heart disease it also creates an intolerance for Carbon Dioxide which will lead to over breathing.
Now, tell us about the practice of sitting in an ice bath or taking a cold shower.
This is a practice that has changed my life and relationship to stress. I’ve found my tolerance for day to day stress has increased tremendously by inviting stress as a tool for growth. It’s a practice that continues to evolve and allows me to lower inflammation and improve recovery and sleep. It’s helpful to have a guide when starting with ice baths. In order to relax within the cold you must focus on extending your exhales and take your time to settle down.
What’s the best way to get the benefits if someone has only 6-10 min each day?
Focus on nasal breathing throughout your day when you notice that you’re breathing with your mouth, stop what you’re doing and see if you can switch to nasal breathing. One exercise I always recommend is a 5 second inhale 5 second exhale through the nose for 5 minutes – this is a great first thing in the morning and end of day before bed.
Avi can be reached for group online breathing sessions at www.avigreenberg.com
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