How to do The Wim Hof Breathing Technique


What is the Wim Hof Method?

The Wim Hof technique has become increasingly well known in the self development and wellness circles. Thanks to the a number of scientific tests on Wim and subjects that Wim trained for several days, his technique and system have gained robust scientific backing that is rarely witnessed within holistic health systems or theories.

The system involves breathing techniques, meditation and cold exposure.

The breathing techniques are said to be incorporated in order to increase blood oxygen levels (I’ve tested this with a monitor and it does indeed work), and increase the alkaline ‘levels’ of the blood/body too. I’ve seen this disputed a number of times, with people saying that it’s not possible to make the body more alkaline, but who knows, it certainly doesn’t seem to do people any harm.

Wim Hof Breathing Technique

1 Round of Breathing =
30 Deep breaths in, with 30 ‘small’ breaths out. Breath in using the stomach muscles and then the chest muscles, taking in as much air as possible, then breath out ‘normally’ to reset your stomach to breath in again.

After the 30 breaths, hold the final breath in for as long as possible.
Finally, when you can’t hold your breath any longer, breathe out, then one last time, take a big deep breath in and hold for 15 seconds.

Repeat this for 3 to 4 rounds:
30 Breaths with emphasis on the inhale
Hold-breath
1 Breath
Hold for 15 seconds.

Wim Hof Cold Showers

So, the other main part of the WIm Hof Method is gradual cold exposure.
Start off by having your normal morning shower, then for 30 seconds at the end, turn the shower to the coldest setting.

In week 2, increase this to 1 minute.
In week 3, go to 3 minutes.
Then by week 8 you want to be jumping straight into a cold shower for 10 minutes.

By week 10, you should add some ice baths.

Health Benefits of Cold Showers and Ice Baths

Cold exposure has anti-inflammatory benefits, it aactivatesthe autonomic nervous system and is said to increase the functioning of the immune system. It also increases brown fat cells, helping you to cope with the cold in general, and also boosting your metabolism.

There is also limited research to show that cold showers can actually lower stress and fight depression – study here:

Exposure to cold is known to activate the sympathetic nervous system and increase the blood level of beta-endorphin and noradrenaline and to increase synaptic release of noradrenaline in the brain as well. Additionally, due to the high density of cold receptors in the skin, a cold shower is expected to send an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain, which could result in an anti-depressive effect.

There are lots of studies showing that cold exposure influences the nervous system, which has led to the hypothesis that it could work as a treatment for chronic fatigue.

Cold stress has also been shown to reduce the level of serotonin in most regions of the brain (except brainstem), which would be consistent with reduced fatigue according to animal models of exercise-related fatigue. Finally, exposure to cold increases metabolic rate and transiently activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis as evidenced by a temporary increase in the plasma levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone, beta-endorphin and a modest increase in cortisol. The increased opioid tone and high metabolic rate could diminish fatigue by reducing muscle pain and accelerating recovery of fatigued muscle, respectively.

source

Wim Hof Meditation

This is ‘third eye’ meditation. Once you have finished your rounds of ‘power-breathing’, focus on the space in between your eyes and meditate on this for 5-10 minutes.

 

On a final note, as a pansy office worker, I think the cold showers alone are of benefit – I need some physical stress and ‘hardship’ and it’s also good for mental toughness to voluntarily jump into a freezing shower. I’ve also bought an o2 monitor that you place on your finger and can see the o2 levels of my blood going up during the power-breaths – good stuff!

I imagine that the breathing techniques are also good for asthma – and the strength of the respiratory muscles. (on a side-note, I had bad asthma until I gave up dairy).

Don’t do the power-breaths in the shower, in case you pass out! Do the power-breaths and meditation together, but keep the cold exposure separate.

You can do the course here, or you could just write down a plan in your diary of when you’re going to do your power-breathing and cold exposure and build it up to 10 minute showers by week 10.

 

WimHofInfographic2

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The Benefits of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu


 

I must admit that I have been a little cynical of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) in recent years but realise that I’ve been a bit of a bellend – projecting my own insecurities onto it. For example, blaming the cost of gis, tournaments, memberships etc. for my lack of interest & progression, is just me playing the victim – you can easily do BJJ on a budget if you wanted to – get a second hand gi and just pay for your membership, you don’t have to buy all the top stuff and go on all the training holidays etc.

To make amends, I thought I would write a blog post about the benefits of BJJ, as there are truly a truck-load, especially in terms of mental health and personal growth.

Nate Diaz Vape Pen

Nate enjoys all of the benefits of BJJ!

  1. Be Humbled, Dissolve the Ego

When was the last time you learnt a completely new skill? Something you had to start as a complete beginner, something that made you feel a bit hopeless because it was so difficult and you were amongst experts?  There’s not many times as an adult that the average person will put themselves in this vulnerable position, but you should.

As a beginner in BJJ, you should expect to get choked out (well, if you don’t tap/submit you will), submitted with various armbars and locks, and generally thrown about a bit. A good BJJ club will take it a little easy on you and try and make your first few lessons constructive as well as hard. The feeling of hopelessness will either make or break you. Maybe it’s just not for you – that’s fine, but maybe your ego can’t handle it? If it’s not for you then find another hobby that you’ll be a beginner at, but avoid just giving up and going back to the couch in the evenings.

Being humbled has many benefits, an increase in empathy and compassion being one of them. If you’ve never taken up a new sport or hobby as an adult, then you may well forget the struggle and the anxiety that can come with being a newbie. So, for example, say somebody new starts in you department in work, are you going to be one of those guys that expects him or her to know everything from the onset and gets angry and frustrated when this is not the case? Or will you show some compassion and empathy and help the person out? If you’ve been a BJJ white belt in the last few years, I’d say you’re much more likely to show compassion. If you can lose the fear or ‘looking stupid’ then this can help it other walks of life too – for example, getting out of your comfort zone and getting a new job instead of complaining about it for another 20 years!

This isn’t a fool proof outcome unfortunately, I’ve known 1 or 2 guys go from BJJ white belt to arrogant and impatient idiot too. I’m not sure why this is – just don’t be that guy! Also, as a BJJ practitioner don’t be one of those brainwashed guys that dismisses other styles, BJJ is amazing but so are many other styles of martial art. Stay humble about yourself and your martial art and accept that other styles have a lot to offer too – Muay Thai, Judo and wrestling being obvious examples.

  1. The Obstacle is the Way

Life is full of struggles and sport is the best way to simulate this. BJJ is a physical and mental sport, all about dexterity, timing, technical proficiency, flexibility, and a ‘chess-like’ mindset of anticipation and the ability to set up and trap your opponent. Strength, admittedly helps too, but in the gi especially, its impact is limited.

So, after your first few sessions of getting pulled apart and choked out –will you feel anger and frustration? Yep, you almost definitely will! but you must either use these emotions to motivate yourself or dissociate from them and be objective – failure is to be expected, but failure is an important experience that we must all share, in order to be able to truly appreciate victory. To continue you must overcome or embrace your ego, but don’t let it get in the way of your progression, as this is a terrible habit that will hinder you in all aspects of life.

After a couple of sessions of BJJ, if you are feeling demotivated, you should take the challenging situation you find yourself in and pretend it is happening to someone else – what would you advise? Give up or rise to the challenge and carry on?

  1. Fear of Conflict & Anger Management

We live in a very sterile, passive-aggressive society (office workers do any way). True, direct conflict and aggression is rarely experienced on a day to day basis by your average purchase-ledger or accountant (although I appreciate it is different for customer-facing job-roles!). When someone does confront us, even if it’s in a verbal fashion as opposed to a physical one, it is easy to lose your sh!t and become aggressive, which is often unnecessary and can lead to a trip to HR.

The best fighter is never angry

The best fighter is never angry

The beauty of BJJ being so technical, is that losing your temper and experiencing a giant adrenaline surge is the last thing that you want to happen! You’ll be completely exhausted after 30 seconds and end up getting choked unconscious. Moreover, in such a technical sport, going ape-shit against anyone with the skill of a good blue belt, is just going to lead to a quicker demise than normal – driving forwards will get you sweeped, gripping a gi with all your might will either get you armbarred or you’ll ‘blow out’ your grip rendering you virtually helpless afterwards! Keep calm, choose specific moments to use explosive power or strength, but stay relaxed when you can!

 

  1. BJJ is a Community

We all need a sense of belonging. Being part of a community is extremely important – we’ve evolved as tribal animals and many of us experience the  lonely groundhog day existence of driving back and to-to work for 2 hours a day and sitting in a metal box/office, with artificial light, staring at a computer for another 8 hours. Community is important for mental health and BJJ is certainly one of those. It’s also great for promoting health because sparring or ‘rolling’ gets you in ‘flow’ state, whereby you’re not thinking of the bills, the ingrate colleague you have to deal with tomorrow in work, or anything else for that matter, you’re just thinking about surviving! The simulated sense of danger and the intensity, demands all your attention, which puts you in ‘the zone’ or ‘flow state’.

IPC Wrexham

The Brady Bunch

The great thing about competing in BJJ, is not only do you overcome that aforementioned fear of confrontation once again, you strengthen the sense of community that you have developed with your team mates. The guys that were choking you out on the mats last week, are now supporting you. I guess it’s a (relatively mild) simulation of going into battle that helps form band-of-brother-esk friendships.

  1. BJJ Motivates you to make Workouts Functional

This has been one of the huge benefits for me – MMA and BJJ has shown that being a massive meathead does not help you to become a better fighter. Strength helps, a lot in MMA, but it does not make up for technique, fitness, flexibility of MMA-functional strength. So bench press and leg press are somewhat out of the window – in come an array of yoga based movements, core strengthening exercises, kettlebells and even some Olympic Lifts. Unfortunately bicep curls have gone too. By sparring in MMA or BJJ once a week, or even every now and then, you experience  the benefits of specific types of training, and bodybuilding type-weight-training, doesn’t seem to help at all.  Functional workouts are better for general health and you lose the ambition to become a massive bodybuilder – which is a pretty unhealthy pursuit (I think anyway).

  1. The BJJ Lifestyle of Human Optimisation

Yea, sorry to use the term ‘human optimisation’ but it’s the best way to describe the approach that many have to improving their BJJ game. What you do off the mat is almost as important as what you do on it, so many will choose to meditate, visualise, take up yoga and eat clean organic foods in an attempt to gain an advantage in BJJ. This obviously has countless health benefits that carry over into ‘normal life’ too. being around people who take their health seriously, will make you do the same.

 

Although acute injuries are relatively uncommon in BJJ, you do have to look out for the long term ones. If you are going to start training and you’re over 40, then you may wish to speak to/email the instructor first. I’m rarely training at the moment as I’m prioritising other things but in a year or so my aim is to do yoga twice a week and BJJ once per week. Many people will say that this isn’t enough, but it all depends on your goals – if you want to have fun, stay part of the community and maintain your skill levels, then I’d say once a week is fine – however, if you want to keep up with the youngsters and work your way through the belts, then you need to be looking at three times a week at least. Don’t let this put you off though, you can make huge strides and reap lots of benefits training twice a week, you will just have to drill a lot and work on specific movements and fitness whenever you can fit it in. You’ll still progress, just a little slower than those hitting the mats more often.

Many of the benefits of BJJ can be attributed to any martial art, or sport. BJJ is popular however as you can compete and train with a relatively low risk of injury and it’s a bit like football/soccer, in that you don’t need to be a specific body type to be good – everyone finds their own style.

FBLikePls

BJJ

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Joe Rogan Experience #968 – Kelly Brogan – Summary


 

The overall theme is that Kelly Brogan, a qualified medical doctor, used to prescribe drugs to treat mental health problems with little success, but now uses lifestyle changes including personalised dietary guidelines (organic red meat is a must, no dairy though) and coffee enemas – which are said to be extremely good for your liver. She has a book, which she thought would be criticised heavily, (but hasn’t been) called A Mind of Your Own.

Coffee Enemas

In terms of coffee enemas, well, the reasons behind it are beyond my understanding, but it is said to stimulate the liver. Here’s a DIY guide if you fancy giving it a crack (get it?).

Doctors are Slaves to Pharmaceutical Industry

In the sense that everything that they are taught in university is from their point of view and that when they graduate from university, that are in so much debt that they have no real choice but to go down the standard route of prescribing this, that and the other.

Lifestyle Changes for Mental Health

Kelly Brogan cites a number of examples of pharma-meds failing those with mental health issues. Her approach is to treat the cause not the symptoms, Joe (the little legend) harps on as usual about how we lack a physical-struggle – it’s a fair point…as an office worker I feel like my body (and mind) lacks stimulation in general in terms of fear, struggle, physical movement etc. Being in a seated/modified fetal position all day in a dark box with artificial air, is quite shit.

Made in Chelsea

I’m lucky though, as I do get to use the onsite gym at work, and I don’t have to work shifts and rarely get stuck it traffic (give gratitude whenever you can!).

We also lack a sense of community and this is why CrossFit is so popular. They talk about the rat studies, whereby rats given a choice between cocaine-water and normal water will drink the cocaine-laden water until they kill themselves. However, a follow up study showed that if they were in a large cage, with other rats and stuff to do, they don’t bother with the cocaine. This (may) suggest that we need stimulation and community to be happy.

There are also a number of physical issues that cause phycological problems, including, for example, thyroid problems. Kelly says that thyroid issues can literally make you suicidal.

Kelly Brogan also ‘prescribed’ meditating daily. Here’s a good 10 minute guided meditation:

I’m not 100% sure if yoga is part of her programme, but she does say that Kundalini Yoga changed her life. Joe and Kelly Brogan talk about how hard yoga is and how it can be the struggle we’re in need of.

They finish by saying that fear is the most powerful of all marketing devices!

I work in marketing and agree, envy and comparisons are equally powerful I’d say.

e.g. how do you get someone to save money on their energy bills?

Tell them it saves the planet? Doesn’t work

Tell them how much money they could save? Doesn’t work

Tell them how much less their neighbours are paying – works a treat!

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Let it Be – Herbal Tea Review


Let it Be Tea contains:

lemon balm, blackberry leaves, green oat, elderflowers, marigold, sunflowers, cornflowers and roseflowers.

If you are stressed out then Lemon Balm has long been established as a highly effective, natural remedy to help you relax.  Also known by the slightly less catchy name of “Melissa officinalis”, there is now a plethora of research backing it’s ability to induce physical and mental relaxation. Interestingly, studies also show that it enhances memory but reduces alertness.

Green oat may also have some potential in terms of increasing cognitive function (study here), whilst elderflower is often used for hayfever, sinusitis and flu symptoms

The tea is definitely relaxing, I’d say it’s certainly one for the evening when you are chilling out; I sleep like a log after a cup.

You can buy from the Pixie Nook

LetitbeTea2

Recommended for recovery and sleep

Not great for a pre-workout or anything like that!

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Protected: Wrexham Fitness Blogger Says Wild Swimming Cures Everything from Man Flu to Back Pain


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Lion’s Mane Mushroom Review


I’m quite into ‘nootropics’ – as in, supplements that clear brain fog and make you think quicker and focus more easily.

mushroom

I don’t like to take anything unnatural where possible – or at least I’m trying to cut back, I already take anti-histamines before bed and decongestants most days due to terrible sinusitis issues (which I’m trying to sort out via diet and my ‘microbiome’); so when it comes to nootropics, I want to stay away from all the racetams if possible and this time opted for Mushroom Wisdon – Lion’s Mane Mushroom – as there is so much research to support its use for the treatment of digestive complaints, as well as it’s ‘brain protective’ properties, such as the development of new brain cells, perhaps something to consider if you compete in a sport which involves head trauma?

There’s a lot of research and a lot of antidontal evidence too.
One forum member on longecity.com reports:

In my own experience, anywhere from 2-5 grams per day, split into 2 doses, seems ideal. I have not experimented with higher doses due to cost. At this dose, I get acute effects, including:

– Improvement in vision (higher contrast between distinct objects, greater colour saturation, and enhanced depth perception).

– Improvement in short-term memory (excellent for information rich jobs or activities).

– Greater equanimity (more stable mood, mild anxiolysis)

– Reduced stomach distress (can reduce the unpleasant effects of acidosis or bad digestion)

Examine.com also reports that:

An analogue of the Hericenones, called 3-hydroxyhericenone, has been implicated in preserving neurons from death induced by endoplasmic reticulum stress.[6] This mechanism of action is also seen with various benzene compounds in Yamabushitake.[21]

It has also been shown, in vitro, to enhance myelination (production of myelin sheath) of neurons, which may be downstream of NGF.[22]

Review of Lion’s Mane Mushroom by Mushroom Wisdom

There is so much research behind this mushroom, everything from anti-cancer properties to the ability to generate new brain cells. See the studies here.

I’ve been taking 1.5g per day and do feel a lot more energetic and focused. I’ve only been taking it for 10 days, so I’m not 100% sure that it’s not a placebo effect but there is lots of antidotal evidence over on my favourite website, Reddit too:

If you are suffering with brain fog and/or general fatigue, it’s definitely worth a try. I’ve read that in some people it makes them tired, so they take the supplement before bed, others report some kind of visual enhancement, for example an increase in motion perception and an increase in colour ‘vibrancy’. There is quite a good forum discussion here.

Lion’s Man Mushroom Dosage

Most studies have used around 3g per day to elicit benefits it terms of the brain and cognitive enhancement. The dose is normally split so that 1g is taken thrice daily. I currently take 1.5g per day, I still feel pretty knackered (I’m the proud father to a teething baby), but I do have a ‘wide eyed’ feeling and a decent amount of alertness, although my body still aches like mad!

FBLikePls

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Best Plants for O2, Air Quality & Air Purification


I love a Ted Talk, it’s in my ‘happiness quadrant’ (an activity that has present and future benefits)

I have more allergies than you could shake a stick at, ever since primary school I was always the wheezy kid that passed out every time someone used glue or air freshener.

I’ve made some big progress by changing my diet – dairy, wheat and sugar free, to reduce mucus and inflammation but I still struggle, especially in the mornings.

I’m going to give these three plants a go, as recommended by Kamal Meattle in his great Ted Talk:

For Oxygen Production:

MotherinLaw’s Tongue

Areca Palm

For Air Purification:

The Money Plant

plants for air purification

 

How does this relate to MMA?

Hopefully, sports nutrition has moved away from pre and post training drinks now, and focuses on a base of wellbeing, including low inflammation and good general health. These plants actually improved Kamal’s lung function, improved employees energy levels and productivity and reduced the incidence of headaches and eye irritation. All good stuff for recovery and general energy and alertness.

Kamal used these plants to improve conditions in an office environment in Delhi, but I’m hoping that they’ll help me in North Wales with asthma and allergies…I will update soon!

 

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