The ‘life changing’ Wim Hof breathing technique: what is it and why is everyone talking about it?

Prepare to become obsessed…

Woman doing wim hof breathing technique and mediation against a sunset
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The world it seems has become focused on self-healing. Ancient practices of meditation are being revived, sound bathing has never been so hip and we’re all trying to become more present and mindful of our daily actions. 

Perhaps it’s in some way related to being locked in our homes for so long, or maybe it’s that we’ve come to realize life is fleeting so we’ve got to enjoy the present moment. Whatever the reason, becoming at one with yourself through meditation, breathing exercises, or sound bathing is pretty relaxing.

One method that’s been gaining in popularity over the past year is the Wim Hof breathing technique. If you’re not familiar with Wim Hof, he’s also known as the Iceman and has curated a set of actions and breathwork that can help improve sleep quality, increase creativity and energy, and reduce stress levels. 

Followers of the Wim Hof breathing technique can’t get enough of its endless benefits with people citing less illness and increased energy.

More from woman&home:
Best air purifiers to cleanse your home
• Get all zen with our pick of the best yoga mats
• Try these best pillows for your dreamiest night's sleep yet

One Wim Hof fan took to Twitter to shout about the benefits, saying, “How not to get sick ever again? Just do the Wim Hof breathing technique everyday. Your life will change.”

While another recommends the Wim Hof breathing technique for anxiety...

But it’s not just us regular folk that are getting on board with the method, the Wim Hof breathing technique has even caught the eye of Harrison Ford, who is said to be a fan, as well as Gwyneth Paltrow. Gwyneth was so impressed with Wim she even invited him to make an appearance on her Netflix show The Goop Lab.

What is the Wim Hof breathing technique?

The Wim Hof breathing technique is a controlled set of breathwork. You sit or lie in a comfortable place and slowly breathe in from your stomach until your breath fills the whole space of your lungs. 

You breathe deeply but without forcing the breath and repeat until fully relaxed for about 30 breaths.

After the last exhale you hold your breath for as long as possible, when you need to take a breath you do so and repeat the process by holding this breath for about 10 seconds.

You then repeat the cycle of gentle breathing and breath-holding four times.

Along with breathing exercises, Wim Hof is an advocate for cold therapy and training your mindset, the three practises sit alongside each other in the Wim Hof Method which he has been practising himself for over 20 years.

Lydia Swinscoe
Travel writer & editor

Lydia is a travel writer and solo travel expert, based mostly in London. Her work has been published in print and online for the likes of Condé Nast Traveler, The Guardian, BBC Travel, Harper's Bazaar, ELLE, Marie Claire, Oh magazine, Town&Country, and woman&home.