How to Extend Your Breath Holds During the Wim Hof Method without Extra Practice or Effort
When doing the breathwork, we promote using no force during the breath-hold portion.
Your breath-hold has a few factors. It boils down to the amount of energy used for the gas exchange. Your CO2 tolerance can be improved in the long term, but we’ll focus on immediate changes for this.
1. During the WHM, laying down will use the least amount of energy. If you want to sit up, finding a place to lean back during the retention.
Once you are holding your breath, you want to make the least amount of movement. If you’ve seen David Blain teach his method of breath-holding, he even tells people to reposed to him by only lifting one finger instead of lifting their whole hand to conserve energy.
2. Getting control of your heart rate down by the end of the breathing round. If you are breathing vigorously, you raise your heart rate. When you do any exercise with a heart monitor, you’ll notice if you stop the activity, even after you feel calm and recovered from the action, your HR could still be peaking.
At least the last 30 seconds before the end of the breathing round, I recommend that you start being aware and getting control of your heartbeat and bring it down.
People often talk about how their breath-hold gets shorter after a few months of doing the method. The most common issue is that perhaps their lungs have called stronger, and now they are breathing more intensely and raising their heart rate without knowing.
3. Find the neutral zone. If you breathe all the in, then let go slowly, you will find the amount of air in your lungs where there is no air pressure. Holding here makes the retention quite effortless. Make sure when you take your final breath, your lungs are filled to the neutral zone. If you feel like you are gasping for air at the end of the hold, you are likely below the neutral zone. When Wim famously says, “without air in the lungs,” he means without a full breath of air in the lungs.
Take a vigorous breath and let go quickly. That momentum may drop your capacity below the neutral zone, so take a small sip in and bring your core to a comfortable level of tension where you relieved the negative air pressure inside.
4. Nose vs. Mouth. You should breathe through your nose when you sleep and as much as possible throughout the day. Since the Wim Hof breathwork is a bit like going to the gym for breathing processes, it’s fine to use your mouth. If you can get an energy-efficient gas exchange with your nose, then by all means but not all of us are all built that way. You may also experiment with using your mouth for most of it, then on the last 30 seconds, when you want to calm down, switch to a few nose breaths.
5. Keep the monkey mind busy. We only want to hold our breath to light to the medium-light urge to breathe. You shouldn’t need to use force during the breath-hold. You can do a simple thing when the faint desire arrises, which is to count to any number slowly. I like 20 and see if that mental distraction helps you easily hold on longer.
I hope you liked these tips. If you did, join me for one of the online or California workshops.