While in hotel Isolation because of COVID 19 I decided to try 5 days of breath work with the purpose of increasing my breath hold time. Breath work refers to breathing exercises or techniques. Different breath work methods can be used for different purposes. Some methods are for relaxation, some are to induce hallucination states or altered states of mind. Other methods are to increase oxygen intake or try to work on breath hold times.
Effects of breath work
Breath work has been shown to increase mental focus, boost immune system response and improve cardiovascular function. Other results show breath work can lower stress and help with aiding trauma. So, its purposes are far reaching AND IT COSTS NOTHING. Free diving is a sport in which breath hold techniques are highly implemented to propel the sport further.
I did 5 days of breath work using the Wim Hoff method (link at end of blog). I did this method to try and achieve a 3-minute breath hold. As someone who likes to scuba dive, snorkelling, spearfishing and trail run it was a nice challenge to undertake and I was pleased with the results.
Why the Wim Hof method?
It’s highly regarded. Wim Hof is well established within breath work and even health and well-being circles. He has impressed international practitioners and scientists for his endurance and physical feats. Nicknamed the “Ice-man” Wim Hof has climbed mount Everest in shorts, swam underneath an ice sheet and run a half marathon bare foot. All of which he attributes to mental discipline and breath work.
What is the Wim Hof method?
- Lay flat and get comfortable
- Breath in hard through the nose trying to draw breath into the stomach, then chest and then head.
- Exhale through mouth calmly (Do not force)
- Repeat this breathing cycle 30-40 times
- On the last breath hold, exhale and time.
*Note: Some people experience light headedness and dizziness from breathing. You may also experience a slight warm and tingling sensation.
Results of breath work:
Each day I took an initial breath before the breathing exercises to give me an idea of my “stationary breath hold”. Afterwards I would do 30 breaths and time the last breath hold. I would repeat this cycle 3 times. My times are as follows;
Stationary breath hold: 0:42 seconds
Breath hold one: 1 minute 24 seconds (01:24)
Breath hold two: 1 minute 48 seconds (01:42)
Breath hold three: 2 minutes 13 seconds (02:13)
Total seconds of 3 breath holds: 325 seconds
Max time: 02:13
Stationary breath hold: 0:39 seconds
Breath hold one: 2 minutes 9 seconds (02:09)
Breath hold two: 2 minutes 33 seconds (02:33)
Breath hold three: 2 minutes 26 seconds (02:26)
Total seconds of 3 breath holds: 428 seconds : 32% increase over day 1
Max time: 02:33 : 15% increase over day 1
Stationary breath hold: 0:28 seconds
Breath hold one: 2 minutes 28 seconds (02:28)
Breath hold two: 2 minutes 45 seconds (02:45)
Breath hold three: 3 minutes 01 seconds (03:01)
Total seconds of 3 breath holds: 494 seconds : 15.4% increase over day 2
Max time: 03:01 : 18.3% increase over day 2
Stationary breath hold: 1 minute 17 seconds (01:17)
Breath hold one: 2 minutes 30 seconds (02:30)
Breath hold two: 3 minutes 15 seconds (03:15)
Breath hold three: 3 minutes 20 seconds (03:20)
Total seconds of 3 breath holds: 545 seconds : 10.3% increase over day 3
Max time: 03:20 : 10.94% increase over day 3
Stationary breath hold: 1 minute 20 seconds
Breath hold one: 2 minutes 46 seconds (02:46)
Breath hold two: 3 minutes 33 seconds (03:33)
Breath hold three: 3 minutes 40 seconds (03:40)
Total seconds of 3 breath holds: 599 : 9.9% increase over day 4
Max time: 03:40 : 10% increase over day 4
I was very impressed with the over-all results of a quick 5 day breath work trial. I managed to crack the 3 minute 30 breath-hold which I was very pleased about.
Overall my max breath hold time increased by 1 minute 27 seconds and my total time for the 3 breath holds increased by 274 seconds from the 1st to the 5th cycle.
Max breath holds were increased by 10.84% daily or +17.4 seconds
This to me was honestly incredible. To see results that compound on each other by an average of over 10% daily is impressive. I think consistency is key here. If you continue to do breath work daily and increase the amount of cycles you do, you will see better results.
Breathwork has also been scientifically shown to balance your PH levels creating less salinity and helping with energy levels and even digestion. Science is continuing to find new ways in which breath work aids, assists or alters the human body and state.
Some simple tips and takeaways would be:
- Pick a goal for your breath work. If you want to do longer breath holds, relax, sleep better etc.
- Find a breath work technique that suits your goals. EG Wim Hof technique for longer breath holds.
- Try not to have stimulants or coffee before your breath holds. This will spike your heart rate and make it harder for your to try and relax.
- Get comfortable. Something as small as a pillow under your head may make the difference between how comfortable you feel and at rest you can be.
- Try and distract yourself with music, a podcast or go deep into thought.
- Doing the cycle early in the morning will give you good results as your body is already in a rested slowed down state.
Would I recommend it?
Wim Hof Link >> https://www.wimhofmethod.com/breathing-exercises
As promised here is the Wim Hoff website. Enjoy! This guy has some amazing knowledge to impart, so enjoy exploring this page.