On a Wim - An Introduction to Wim Hof

Unshroud the man driving scientific research on breath.

On a Wim - An Introduction to Wim Hof 

If you’ve been living under a rock and still haven’t heard of the mysterious Iceman from Holland who went from circus performer to internationally-renowned World Record Holder, here’s everything you never wanted to know about Wim Hof. The Man. The Myth. The Legend. 

What makes a man go from a circus performer and handyman to an internationally-acclaimed (and oft criticised) modern scientific marvel? Wim Hof’s story is an interesting one. At just 17 years of age, walking next to a half-frozen canal in Amsterdam, Hof was overcome with the overwhelming urge to jump in. So he did. 

“I felt this attraction to the cold water,” he says. “And then, after I went in, I felt this understanding, an inside connection. It gave me a rush. My mind was free of gibberish.” Hof discovered an almost meditative quality in the experience, and as a budding practitioner of yoga and Hinduism, wanted to explore that further. He returned the next day, and the day after that - every day, in fact, throughout winter. During this time, he was practising a breathing technique similar to that of a centuries-old Tibetan Buddhist meditation known as Tummo; adjusting it and evolving it into what is now recognised the world over as the Wim Hof Method (WHM). 

Hof continued his personal practice every day, noting the benefits to his body and carrying on with his life. He married, had children. Then on a day like any other in 1995, his wife - who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia - jumped from the top of an apartment building, ending her life. Wim Hof continued his practice throughout his grief, eventually developing the belief that it could ‘bring people [like his wife] back to tranquility’.

“My method can give them back control,” he once said. 

From that point on, he sought to advance and scientifically popularise his methods, but it wasn’t until a TV crew happened to film him saving the life of a man trapped beneath the ice and close to death that he garnered the moniker ‘The Iceman’ and became a household name throughout Holland. From there, he went on to break an extraordinary 21 Guinness World Records. These records include climbing Mount Kilimanjaro clad only in shorts and running shoes, running a barefoot half marathon above the Arctic Circle, and standing in a container while covered with ice cubes for more than 112 minutes. 

“I'm not afraid of death,” he says, echoing the sentiments of the great Mae West. “I'm afraid not to have lived fully.” And so he has. Brandishing the maxim 'What I am capable of, everybody can learn,' The Iceman has since travelled the world taking his method to the people. From celebrities such as Jim Carrey through to scientists trying to understand his phenomenal abilities, the Wim Hof Method has been adopted as not only an extreme sport, but as a health and wellbeing method and way of life. It has been proven to reduce inflammation, though Hof’s claim that the autonomous nervous system related to the innate immune response can be willfully influenced is still being investigated. 

We feel really lucky here at Unearthed Retreats to be able to offer an incredible experience in the Snowy Mountains, which utilises some of the Wim Hof Method principles, cultivated by a highly experienced team of Cold Immersion, Breathwork, Yoga and Fitness experts. No matter what your fitness level is, no matter what you’re looking to get out of this time away, you will leave armed with the knowledge and daily practices to enhance your mental, emotional and physical wellness and embrace your true full potential.

Check out our next retreats here, and don’t forget to breathe! 

Unearthed Retreats offers a range of wellness, meditation, and yoga retreats across Australia.

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