13 things I learnt after doing the 10-week wim-hof method

Do you get a migraine or sinus and loose a full days’ worth of productivity? You think yoga is for old people or it is too boring to do it? You tried meditation, and think you are better off going to sleep than sitting like a fool? Or even the thought of cold showers frightens you, why would anyone do it?     

Let me tell you a little about myself. I have lived with headaches like a migraine and sinus all my life. It strikes me once or twice a month and sometimes even more. Generally, the trigger is having heavy lunch, or bright sunshine, running, trekking and swimming. Sometimes it depends on the food I eat. Meditating too can be the cause. There are so many variables that it is hard to pin-point what exactly causes a migraine or sinus. Since I am so used to it, I did not bother trying to find a cure. I sleep it off or I take a painkiller.   

When it comes to yoga, I am thinking gymnastics. I rather train for the Olympics than yoga.  All those weird poses, I certainly am not built with pristine genes. I never even tried attempting yoga. I know it will be beneficial if I practised it a little day by day, but I don’t have the patience and flexibility to do so.

What is with meditation?  It seems to be this new cult, “you need to meditate”. Have you ever noticed that the people who tell you to meditate look as if they are under some medication?  I generally feel socially anxious, so I get this from people, 'you need to meditate'. Thanks, but no thanks. 

And now the new hype of cold showers. All I know is, the thought of “cold water bath” is enough to send a shiver down my spine. 

But all of a sudden, my views on yoga, meditation and cold showers have changed. This guy from Netherlands Wim-Hof, a.ka. ‘The Ice Man’ comes up with this theory of using your autonomous system to regulate your heart rate. A lot of voodoo stuff. I did not buy into this idea for a while. Being an avid MMA follower, one of my top fighters, mentioned he trained with the Ice Man to improve his endurance. If an MMA fighter is using this method, I need to investigate more into this guy. MMA fighters are arguably the fittest and strongest people on earth. Every novelty in their training has to work or it makes no sense for them to waste time on it.  

This is what sold me on the idea. I need to give this guy a try. He has a 10-week course on teaching you how to regulate your autonomous system. Again voodoo. So I start the 1st week. It is breathing exercise, followed by yoga, meditation and cold showers. While I was doing it, I was feeling like wtf is this. This seems to be another Sai Baba scam. But I made sure I will commit to 10 weeks no matter what. I will follow the process and leave the result to happen organically. 

To keep myself accountable, I made “don’t break the chain” rule. Every day, after I complete the Wim-Hof training, I circle that date. Over time, this will form a chain and as a result, you would not want to break it. It is like a small game you play with yourself, but it also keeps you accountable. 


So week two starts, I continue with the breathing, the yoga gets a bit intense, meditating for longer periods and longer cold showers. After week 3 or four, he states your body will start to detox. And yes, I felt like going to the toilet 2-3 times a day. Was it detoxing, or I just ate some garbage. Was it coincidence or was it due to the training. I don’t know. But I will give the benefit of the doubt to the training.   I also noticed, not getting a headache for a whole month. That is a bit rare. Something in this method is actually working. 

I am starting to feel more productive, less drowsy during noon times, able to have stronger focus, little to no headaches, calmer, being more accountable. This feels a bit weird. How the heck can some breathing, meditation, yoga and cold showers have such a profound impact. For me, not getting headaches is a game changer. 

So what exactly does this Wim-Hof method entail? 

A. Breathing
This is the core of what makes the Wim-Hof method work. The idea behind the breathing is to do 30-40 reps of inhaling fully and exhaling partially. At the end of the 30-40 reps, you need to hold your breath. Do this cycle 3-4 times. On the 5th cycle, you continue with the breathing. This time, not only do you have to hold your breath, you also need to do push-ups. The breathing exercise fuels your body with oxygen. I would think sinus and migraine is somehow related to not having enough oxygen in your veins or blood vessels. This exercise trains you to breathe properly, as a result, you feel your body being a bit oxygenated. You can get a tingling sensation. If all this sounds a bit voodoo, try it for yourself, and see what it feels. 

B. Yoga
In the Wim-Hof method, yoga is a combination of stretching and strange poses. Well, that is generally the definition of yoga. The more you do it, the more you can stretch. The more you practice it, you will be training yourself to even do the complicated pose. While doing the yoga, you still need to continue with the breathing. Breathe deeply, hold the breath for a few seconds and then exhale. Focus on the point where the pain is while you are stretching and breathing. Somehow the breath helps alleviate the pain helping you stretch a bit further. 

C. Meditation
I don’t think I got this even after 10 weeks. He suggests you should see some white light during the 4-5th week. I did not see anything. I tried to focus on seeing something, but nothing. Meditation, I am not sure if it helps me or not, but trying to be patient for a few minutes, sitting still while focusing your mind on the forehead might have some impact. I just do not know what it is. 

D. Cold Showers
When it is snowing outside and you have to take cold showers, that require some willpower. There are medical benefits of having cold showers. For me, it was more of building the mental strength to withstand the cold for a few minutes.  My tolerance to stay in the cold did increase a bit. I still have a long way to go. 

So what have I learnt after completing the 10 weeks of the Wim-hof method? Was it some scam or it does help improve your nervous system? Am I different after the 10 weeks or it made no difference? 

These are my top 13 things I learnt. And no, it is not a scam. Me being quite a skeptic, I would be the 1st to judge. This product sure delivers at a deep level if you follow it thoroughly. 

1. No more shallow breathing. Start taking deep breaths. 
You start to utilise the full capacity of your lungs.  Just by breathing deeply, you will be fuelling your body with more oxygen. The more oxygen you have, the more alert, the more energetic, and you feel good. 

2. No more headaches and I can wear contact lens
I have not had any headaches ever since starting the Wim-Hof method. This is a big one for me. Now, I can wear contact lens and feel at ease. My eyes hurt, but that is due to the contacts and my squint. Atleast this pain is not flowing all the way to my brain. It stops at the eyes. 

3. I can do complex yoga poses. Who would have ever thought
I am the most un-athletic person you will ever meet. When it comes to sports, yoga, endurance, I suck. So for me, going from some below average Joe to now executing yoga poses like GI I Joe’s is shocking. 


4. Cold shower
I would have never expected myself to dip in the cold. Especially when the temperature is 0degress and it is snowing outside. And yet, with focus, will-power and ‘just do it’ mentality I stuck to having cold showers for 7 weeks. I do switch between hot and cold when I feel uncomfortable. I also know that my tolerance for pain is improved. At least the tolerance of withstanding the cold. 

Note: The last 3 weeks I stopped having cold showers

5. Discipline and accountability
For you to stick with this program for 10 weeks, requires some level of accountability. Requires a bit of will-power and tolerance of pain. There will be days where you do not feel like getting up, you do not feel like doing anything, leave alone the Wim-Hof method. And yet you do it. After which you feel amazing; but in the moment it is painful to be disciplined. This is definitely a great way to train your mind to be consistent and disciplined. 

6. More focus 
After the Wim-Hof method, I am able to concentrate for longer periods of time. I can software program for longer periods, get less distracted and get more work done. Sure the Wim-Hof method has trained my mind to have more focus. As a result, I can get more work done faster. With no headaches, more energy, more focus, I feel a bit limitless. Well, that is an exaggeration, but definitely, have improved on my focus. 

7. Calmer and at ease
Now, when I feel a bit anxious, I just do the breathing exercise. The breathing exercise is so simple; you can do it anywhere. The deeper your breath, the calmer you get. Being calm is not bad. It makes you think more clearly. 

8. More motivated 
After being disciplined and having better focus, you automatically will feel more motivated. This just seems to be a side effect of the above results

9. Feel sharper and somehow my grasping power is improved. 
I am quite a dumb guy. Like quite dumb. If I feel I am learning something a bit quicker, I can FEEL IT. The other day, I was travelling to Miami. Every time you travel by air you are given a boarding pass which has your seat# and flight #. I rarely pay attention to those numbers. I tend to look at my boarding pass a million times to find my gate and to fill the immigration form. This time it was different. I was able to remember the numbers. I was paying attention to something I never would. That felt good but strange. I credit my increased grasping power to the Wim-Hof method. 

 Not to mention the things I am programming now. What I felt before as, “I don’t feel like learning or programming”, I am starting to think, what is it that I need to do now to get shit done. Leaving all my personal bias and preferences aside. As a result, I am able to do things what I previously thought was not my cup of tea. Like this template in which you are reading this blog. Programmed and designed in 2-3 days. Our new service that we are providing. Thought about it, designed and implemented in a week. More on how I am designing, go check out this blog. There are many other examples, only to name a few.  

10. Increase speed of implementation, visualisation and thinking 
By just being more focused, sharper and increased grasping power, my speed of implementation is better than what it used to be. I can do things 3-4x times faster than before. I tend to take time visualizing what I am going to do before I execute on it. The more you visualise, the more vivid the information or task is, the easier it is to execute. 
The proof of my speed is in the work I am able to produce in the last few weeks. I now plan to up it up even more and get a lot more done quicker. Either be it programming, networking, blogging. 

11. Powerful morning routine
I have been doing the Wim-Hof method 1st thing in the morning. As a result, my day starts with a breathing exercise, yoga, meditation and cold showers. I then make my bed and start software programming or writing. This routine helps me get organised quickly. It builds my discipline muscle and what better way to start the day than by feeling more energetic. 

12. Habit of recording your progress 
This is one of the most underestimated skills in personal development. Keeping track of your progress using pen and paper. In the Wim-Hof method, everything is tracked.  How long is your retention, how many push-ups you can do, and you even need to record what and how you feel. As a result, this becomes a habit. I keep a stopwatch to record how long I have held my breath. I track how long I do push-ups and how many I do. I even track how long I do a particular yoga pose. What benefit does this have? 
There are a couple of benefits in my opinion. 
1. You take the task more seriously. 
2. You know where you were, and where you need to go. You are able to measure your progress. 
3. The habit you cultivate can apply to other aspects of your life. You start to take feedback and reflect on how to improve your current situation.  
These are micro-habits, but in the long run, they have profound effects. 

13. Cultivating keystone habits
If there is one thing this program has taught me, it is the ability to cultivate keystone habits. Think of keystone habits like dominos. You want to change a habit such that it affects all areas of your life, not just one thing. To fix my headache issue, I could be, don’t go under the sun, don’t run, don’t eat oily food, exercise more indoors. All of this are random habits to work on. With breathing, yoga meditation and cold showers, all of a sudden I can now run, walk in the sun, eat anything and not get headaches. Because the Wim-Hof method focuses on keystone habits. As a result, it impacts all other areas of your life profoundly. 



What’s next?
The last 3 weeks of the Wim-hof method, I did slack a bit. Because there was no instructional video for yoga. I did not know what to do. There is a 4min exercise and a 10-minute exercise. I will continue to do the 10-minute exercise. Now that I have completed the Wim-hof course, good chances I may do it again in the future, but now, I plan to focus on building more muscles. Next, I will be following the Tacfit Commando and Mass-Assault program. This is a completely different program and seems to fit well into what I need to do next. 

I will also be attending the workshop in Vancouver. I will get to see him live in person and ask more about how to do the meditation properly. 

Do these benefits seems promising? Would you consider doing the Wim-Hof method? I cannot tell you if it will work for you or not. For me, I got immense value from it. Share your comments if you have done the program or would like to do the program. No, I am not affiliated with Wim-Hof by any means. 

3 Comments

Avatar
May 06, 2017 External
Thanks for your writeup. I've been following WHM for about 4 months now and stay pretty devoted to it. Have even gone as far as doing some seriously cold ice baths. Been doing everything except the yoga but have still registered a number of tangible benefits for me.
- no sickness
- greatly reduced jetlag flying back from US to UK which normally messes me up for about a week
- no sickness after transatlantic flight; again I often will catch something on the plane ride back from America
- marked improvement in weightlifting reaching new personal bests across several categories
- improved sleep which seems particularly connected to the breathing exercises
- reduced anxiety (and hence improved productivity) which seems connected to the breathing
Avatar
Apr 05, 2017 External
Anthony! Your article on Wim hof method is very encouraging n motivating and you made it happen! A little bit of dedication, disciple and enthusiasm is what we require ,I can do yoga but cold water bath? I will try..lol..Your video on Yoga poses am very impressed within a short time you have achieved it!
Thanks you!
This is a very well-written article by Anthony Shivakumar as hes mentioning how Push-ups incorporated with breathing exercises works well for us. We youngsters are so carried away with "Gymming" and going for brisk walks with a Walkman on, that we forget simple techniques which we could follow at home early in the morning. I think the Wim-Hof method which Anthony is using is very good in keeping up with our body's Circadian Rhytm.
Exercise is a science called Exercise Physiology. If we do it correctly and systematically like how Anthony circled everyday after he completed the Wim-Hof method you will see the results gradually. Exercise is like Mathematics if we follow the steps corectly we will benefit.
There is no magic formulae or drugs that will help us in regulating our body's vital functions..Its just plain yoga, Wim-Hof method and exercise like push-ups,pull-ups, cat and camel exercise.We have to work closely with our Musculo-skeletal sytem in order to maintain our posture and body position while performing exercise and yoga.

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