The Value of Every Breath

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Sure you take your breath for granted until it’s taken from you. Maybe a sucker punch to the breadbasket, staying underwater for a little too long, or even hitting the cold water and of course from vigorous exercise. That’s a few ways we understand the value of the breath. But what if you could use the breath proactively instead of passively? Perhaps we could high-jack our own body to ease pain, anxiety and improve performance. Maybe you could call it a hack One man seems to believe that our respiratory system has hidden power and potential to change how we breathe and how to apply each breath.

Enter Wim Hof

He has been dubbed “The Ice Man” for his amazing feats of resistance to cold and heat exposure. Not only did this Dutchman resist cold exposure in clinical settings but running through the Namib desert heat to climbing Everest in his shorts. How? Apparently with the breath.


In clinical settings and otherwise, his methods have been reproduced. Although, no one yet has come forward saying they used his methods to climb Everest. It was a ballsy move, to be fair.

Anecdotally I can say I have tried his method with positive but varying results. Truth be told, I couldn’t implement the habit consistently or with 100% accuracy but I did notice an overall feeling of wakefulness and ease. I imagined this process to be relaxing but as soon as I opened my eyes, I shot right up!

The Benefits

What are the benefits of climbing Everest in shorts? Just a Guinness world record. No big deal. But practically speaking, the benefits of practiced breathing reach beyond bragging rights. Some of the most notable benefits are:

  • Boosting the immune system
  • Relieving stress
  • Increasing performance
  • Increasing your energy.

I think I have an idea of what you might be thinking by now. Breathing can boost your immune system? I thought claims like this were wild until I found out that you lose fat through respiration, not just perspiration. Mind blown.

So I tried his method out for a while and it seemed worth keeping an open mind for. Wim Hof has reputable science backing him up but of course, the jury isn’t out. Haters love to hate.

With something so difficult to measure at home, try keeping a journal about your feelings and thoughts prior, during and post-session. Read some documentation on the science here and tell us what you think in the comments section.


Just a heads up, this isn’t just a matter of breathe in- breathe out. You’re going to be breathing abnormally and you don’t want to do it standing, driving, at work or in front of your friends. Your safety and social life matter, so find a quiet, comfortable place to lay on your back or sit. The bed, couch, or the floor will be fine. Load up the link below and follow along to Wim Hof’s instructions. Limit your expectations to three dedicated sessions if you’re the skeptical type. I have done sessions with another person, by myself, sitting, laying down and in different moods. Each session was it’s own but the effect was consistent yet with varying levels of magnitude. Some days would be intensely energetic, some less so.

If you’re into trying new things, improving yourself, or testing things to scrutinize them, this will be for you. Before you reduce this to granola, healing crystals, and frankincense stuff, you’re not losing anything. Remember that health has a huge experimentation factor so try it

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