Win Hof

Human Beings like to live in what can be termed the Goldilocks zone. Not too hot, not too cold. Not too windy, not too still. Every once in a while, an outlier comes along to break the mould. He or she makes an effort to find our extremities. The human capacity is tested in such endeavours. Sometimes, the outcome is nothing short of a miracle.

Wim Hof is capable of feats that most scientists would classify as impossible. He has climbed to 20,000 feet on Mount Everest in nothing but shorts and shoes. Hof ran a marathon barefoot above the Artic. He has also managed to stay submerged for two hours in an ice bath. He credits his abilities to his breathing exercises; a technique that he developed. The practice requires deep rhythmic inhalation followed by holding your breath for as long as you can. This done right can help strengthen your body, fight diseases, improve circulation, improve your immunity and enhance mindfulness.

Traditionally, most regular Joe’s are unable to regulate their immune functions. They are also incapable of controlling say their blood pressure voluntarily. Hof believes that training your body through breathing, meditation and exposure to extreme cold can change this. Professor Pickers at the Radboud University tested his claims. They found that Hof’s cells had a far more subdued immune response system and low levels of proteins. The was symptomatic of the activation of the immune system. They also found elevated levels of cortisol in his body. Even trainees of the Hof method were able to show elevated adrenaline just lying in bed as compared to that in a person just before a Bungee jump. The trainees were able to control their hormone system.

Several practices world over speak of breathing and meditation. Monks have become famous showcasing their capacity to sit in the extreme cold. My dear friend, Mihir, recently went climbing Everest. Next time in a pair of shoes and shorts, Mihir?

Thank you to my friend Anmol for pointing me to this information.


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.