This Video Will Train You to Hold Your Breath for an Incredibly Long Time


Illustration for article titled This Video Will Train You to Hold Your Breath for an Incredibly Long Time
Screenshot: Wim Hof/YouTube (Fair Use)

As a lifelong asthmatic, I am the least-likely person to win a breath-holding contest (which is fine because it means I am also the most likely to win the “coolest person you know” contest, because there is nothing more badass than getting winded after a light jog on a cold day). But thanks to a method of breathing meditation I’ve been practicing for the past few weeks, I feel prepared to take on all challengers. (Except for David Blaine; lung capacity aside, he just seems like a dick.)

It comes to us from Dutch “extreme athlete” Wim Hof, who holds world records for swimming underwater in frigid temperatures and running a half-marathon on ice, which pretty much identifies him as my polar opposite, breathing-wise. On his website, Hof promotes his self-styled Wim Hof Method, “based on the foundation of three pillars; Breathing, Cold Therapy and Commitment.” As refreshing as “cold therapy” sounds at the height of this steamy Brooklyn summer, I’m mostly interested in the first of those. (As for commitment, eh, I can take it or leave it.)

Hof’s breathing method is based on alternating cycles of deep, circular breaths with periods of breath-holding to induce a meditative state. It slots in aside a larger group of non-medical therapies often referred to as “breathwork.” Essentially, you’re looking to induce a sort of controlled hyperventilation that will boost the oxygenation of your blood. As Wim Hof puts it, “The amount of oxygen that we inhale through our breathing, influences the amount of energy that is released into our body cells.”

If that sounds a little too fast and loose for you, various breath therapies have actually been studied for their health benefits and shown to possibly “trigger body relaxation responses and benefit both physical and mental health.” And here’s what Wim Hof’s looks like: